It’s hard to put in to words the emotions I felt while crossing the finish line at Grandma’s Marathon two weeks ago. It was a mix of exhaustion, gratitude, humility, joy, and pain. I wasn’t quite sure the full extent of what you experience while running 26.2 miles, but if I charted my emotions on a graph, it would certainly be a roller coaster. Not only is a marathon demanding on your body (cue major muscle cramps the following day…) but it’s tough on you emotionally, and in the end, so very, very worth it!
Before the race, I had run two other half marathons and a handful of 10K’s and 5K’s, but none of those quite compared to the physical demands of a whole.
There were several things that surprised me while running Grandma’s this month, a few things I was not expecting whatsoever (like a woman handing out bacon and ibuprofen on the racecourse at mile 22-no joke!), as well as some things that I was prepared for and stunned by, like the spectacular views.
Here’s a few things you can count on in a Marathon…
1 // You Sweat A lot
If you are preparing for a marathon, just know that sweat is inevitable and a great deal of it. This makes it important to wear something light and comfortable that won’t make you realize the sweat even more. I opted for a tank top (This one is seriously one of my favorites, and it’s $8! I wore it last year for the half marathon as well) and shorts as well as cotton socks (I might change the cotton socks decision if I run another marathon). Because you are sweating a great deal, it is ever-important to replenish the salts in your body, so be sure to utilize the water stations!
2 // You Eat and Drink ALOT
I was shocked at the amount of liquid and food I consumed during the race. Seriously! It was at least 8-10 cups of water or Powerade as well as bananas, fruit, granola bars, and Cliff Bar Energy Shots. Because you are burning so many calories your body is craving energy and nutrients. I originally had set a goal of not stopping at hardly any water stations since I had hardly had any liquids or food on my long 20 mile run during training, I quickly changed that when I realized my body needed more energy throughout the run.
3 // It’s OK to Stop and Stretch
Prior to the race, I had been mentally preparing myself that I wanted to run as far as possible before stopping. I did end up running the first half the entire way which gave me a good energy boost. However, when I stopped, my knees were in so much pain it hurt to even walk. I think it was because I had been pushing myself so much. I wish I had began running slower to start, then picked up my pace. It’s crucial to learn to stop and stretch. I was surprised when I saw so many other runners stopping to take a quick stretch break.
4 // You will not be bored
Often on my long runs, I would longingly think of other things I could be doing instead of training. While on the race course, I was overwhelmed by the number of people cheering for the runners the whole way! The funny signs and costumes bystanders dressed in made me excited to run and to keep reading what they had written for their friends and family. I also looked forward to seeing my family and my friends’ families who had all come to watch and were cheering at various points along the way. Besides seeing friends and family, the views were spectacular. I couldn’t get over the view of Lake Superior and of Duluth! I didn’t realize how big of a deal Grandma’s Marathon is in Duluth, until you see how many people are cheering you on and standing on the side of the road handing out water, pickles and bacon (no joke!) to runners. The town is buzzing with supporters, and quite honestly, this is one of the biggest parts that I liked about this marathon.
5 // Adrenaline will take you far
Like I said before, the amount of supporters who come out to cheer on the runners is amazing. Because of all the cheers and crazy fans, you find a great deal more adrenaline to actually run. I was so nervous before the marathon since we were shuttled to the start an hour before the actual race time, I had a great deal of time for my nerves to get anxious. In the end, that was so beneficial to making me run faster!
6 // Mile 16 and 17 hit you quick
I laugh because who’da thought that I could be recalling a 26.2 mile race in terms of events that happen at each mile marker?! Kind of crazy. But no kidding, miles 16 and 17 hit me hard. For some reason it was at that point that I realized just how long this run was. I was pretty annoyed at how tired I was at that point in time and happened to complain a bit too much to my friend, (Sorry Sarah!), but in the end, pushing through those tough miles on the race course just help you to learn just how far your strength can take you.
7 // You May just want to run another marathon
Typing this post up I am truly feeling a bit nostalgic. Crossing the finish line of Grandma’s right on Canal Park on the Southern tip of Lake Superior was a feeling I will truly never forget. As Grandma’s is named after a restaurant by the same name in Canal Park right at the finish line, many people run the marathon for their Grandmothers. It was a great joy to run it for my own grandmothers who I could only wish were still here to see this day. The amount of signs and t-shirts people were wearing in honor of someone they were running for only toughened my resolve and helped me to find strength to complete the race. Running for someone or something other than yourself is an experience that makes your journey all the more worthwhile. Tears at the end are not only for the pain of the marathon, but the reality that you have pushed yourself harder than ever expected in honor of others, and that in itself is so incredibly humbling.
The final song I listened to from my running playlist coming down the hill towards the finish line was “In the Dust” by Brandon Heath. The song talks about how we as humans can do so much in God’s hands. Our time here is fleeting, and God has so many plans ahead. It’s beautifully written and sung and gave me goosebumps as I crossed the finish line, knowing that faith has helped me get through the race.
Pretty amazing what can be done with God, right??
In all seriousness, running a marathon has definitely pushed me more. Whether you’re feeling up to running one or are considering one, or maybe you’re even on your sixth or seventh or fifteenth marathon (which seriously, major props for that-I’m in awe), I hope that some of this advice comes in handy!
I’d love to hear about your running experiences as well!