Friday, May 10, 2013

What 12 months do to a runner

The biggest thing that hit me while running the Pittsburgh Marathon, and afterwards, on Sunday was how different it was than last year.  The thoughts, the emotions, the physical feeling of running was such a striking change.

Then... I had only started running 4 months prior.
Now... running has been a part of my life for more than a year.

Then... I was able to remain relaxed with no expectations.
Now... my nerves were going crazy for the days leading up to the race.

Then... my only goal was to finish on my own two feet, not knowing if I could finish at all
Now... I had goals, and I was hell-bent on improving

Then... I had only a vague idea on how to pace or fuel over 26.2 miles; I just did whatever felt right
Now... I have room to improve but I had an actual plan this time!

Then... I hit the halfway point in 2:30 and I had no idea how I'd run 13.1 more miles.
Now... I hit the halfway point in 2:15, and I was excited for the second half.
*Side note: My first half-marathon, last October, was slower than 2:15!!!

Then... I ran much of the race with a sparse crowd of runners and spectators that were ready to pack it in for the day
Now... I had company the whole way (including a PT classmate!) and I was early enough for the gummi worms and for the beer, of which I only took the former

Then... I was convinced from mile 18 on that I was perhaps dying a slow, hot death and questioned repeatedly whether I could finish or not
Now... I was running mental calculations at mile 18 trying to figure out how hard I would have to push to hit my goal.  Only in the last .2 miles did I feel like I was going to not make it!

Then... 5:36:17
Now... 5:03:47.  Not my goal time but a huge 32:30 PR!

Then... I entered the finish chute hyperventilating and begging for water to be poured over my head
Now... I was all smiles and happy tears in the finish chute this year... even though there was no food.

Then... I hobbled back to the parking garage as if I had a stick up my bum; my legs felt broken
Now... I couldn't stop talking  about how I felt 100x better than the year before

Then... I lost 4 toenails total.
Now... Just ONE!

Then... I could barely move the next day, and I was overwhelmingly sore from head to toe for a few days
Now... I was certainly sore but all but my quads and hamstrings had recovered in 48 hours

Then... I was researching more races as soon as I was rested enough to keep my eyes open
Now... Ok, so I guess this is the point where things stopped changing.  Fall 26.2 maybe?

Then... mile 4.5 in 2012
Now... same mile mark 12 months later
Let's have a shout out for what running does for your legs...

What differences did you notice between your first race or marathon and any or all that came after that?

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