I want everyone to picture a giant green tank. This tank makes a lot of noise when it moves -the ground shakes as it plods on its way. There is nothing finesse or delicate about the way it operates. Now, replace the tank with me, and you now have a good approximation of what I felt like (and probably looked like) while running the Disney World Marathon earlier this month. Yes, I finished the race – but it was not easy, any my feet felt like someone took a sledgehammer to them for almost the entire duration of the race!
Let’s back up for a second. For those of you who missed my earlier declaration of marathon glory, I signed up for the Walt Disney Marathon in Orlando Florida weeks after having hip surgery. You may have doubted my sanity when I said I was going to do it, but *I* doubted my sanity even more during the race! Why would I do such a cruel thing to my own body? Well, I wanted to challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone and I also wanted to try something new, yes. But the main reason was because I, along with some friends and family, were running as a team to raise money for childhood cancer, inspired by our little buddy Summer! And boy, did we succeed at that! We ended up raised $31,732 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand, our charity of choice! Thank you to anyone who donated to our cause, the outpouring of support was truly amazing.
Ok, so the race. Some of my takeaways:
This was absolutely a one and done for me. I just don’t like running enough to put my body through hell for 6+ hours.
I picked the right marathon
The Disney Marathon is probably the only marathon in the world I would have completed. You actually do run through all 4 theme parks, as well as the Wide World of Sports. There are plenty of cool photo opportunities and dare I say, *magic* all throughout the race. If my body didn’t pull a rebellion on me, I might have actually had some fun!
I am too heavy for this
I found out the hard way why distance runners are usually very, very thin and not very muscular. Having extra mass (and bodyfat) is a serious impediment to success. Every step I took after a certain point felt like I was carrying a piano on my back. My joints were trashed. My muscles, lungs and heart were all fine and could have gone harder, but the pains in my ankles and feet were my limiting factor and it wasn’t close.
Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and marathon running is not among my natural strengths
I have wide hips, broad shoulders and flat feet. I gain weight easily. I also am the type of person who has 50 tabs open in my web browser because I want to read ALL of the things. I don’t do well with boredom. So it is with little shock that I didn’t enjoy my race prep, and openly hoped that race day would come sooner so I didn’t have to keep running! Can everyone improve to a degree at running? Of course. Running is one of the most accessible forms of exercise in existence. But there comes a point when you can’t continue to fit a round peg into a square hole, and for me, running isn’t something that I enjoy, nor is it something I excel at. Exercise should be fun, and I frankly would rather be lifting or swinging kettlebells than going out for a 2 hour long run.
You get a cool medal
Getting the medal was my second favorite part of the day, right behind actually finishing the race and putting myself out of my misery. The pain and suffering is temporary, I will have the medal as a reminder of my brief lapse of sanity.
So, as I outlined in this post, I had a plan going into the race. I wanted to train for the marathon, while also getting stronger post-op. I definitely progressed with my strength. Whether the gains were due to the manner in which I trained, or just a rebound from not lifting heavy after surgery (or a combo of both) is unclear. I was running 4 days a week – at first. But some weeks I didn’t run outside that many times. My running dwindled due to me being cautious with my hip and (sometimes) due to boredom. I sometimes would swap a bike ride or some jump rope for a run. There was one thing I did not compromise on. Each week, Val and I would go for a long timed run. We added time each week, so by Christmas time, we were running for hours at a time non-stop. The long runs were a huge plus. It taught mental strength to keep pushing, a skill that was under developed due to my previous athletic background in stop and go sports.
My main goal during training and the race was really to finish, without any injury setbacks. I am proud to report that I successfully accomplished this.
My next training focus is as far way from marathon training as I can get. I am solely focused on weightlifting. I am lifting 5 days a week, with little to no aerobic conditioning for the short term. I also am looking to drop some weight – running the marathon heavier than I wanted was not an experience I would like to repeat again.
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