Why I Loved My First Marathon

Last Sunday, I ran my very first marathon at the Melbourne Marathon, such a huge buzz! And honestly, with the proper preparation and a positive mindset, if I can do it, you can too! Wondering what the fuss is all about? Here’s why I loved it:

Why I Loved My First Marathon

 

But first, to put it all into context, here’s my race rundown:

Melbourne Marathon race recap

I was so excited to run the race! I set out with the mindset to really try and take in and enjoy the whole experience. Eager and ready, I started off with one of the pace groups. Within the first few kms though, I quickly realised they were pacing at gun time. I was targeting the net time. So I pulled back slightly to run my own race. Looking back, this was definitely a good plan! I ran pretty relaxed and in the moment, high fiving as many spectators along the way as I could. I’m so happy I took the time to absorb the excitement of it all!

With the first half of the race over pretty comfortably, the heat did start to kick in as the run progressed. Moving toward 30km I started to slow, feeling way overheated. I’m not great running in warmer weather, and training over Melbourne winter in temperatures averaging 2-10 degrees didn’t set me up for the day’s hot and windy conditions. By then I knew my target time was not going to be realistic. So I just focused on running consistently through the rest of the race. Again, being aware and present, with no stopping, just aiming to run at a steady pace.

I did prep well though with electrolytes carried in my hydration vest. I also had my husband pass me more along the way once I ran out. In fact, I had frozen these extra drinks with wet paper towels attached, so they provided much needed cooling in addition to hydration. This planning was really the key to me staying strong in the back end of the race.

Why I Loved My First Marathon

 

After eventually cooling down a little with some icy drinks and with this new mindset, I settled into a more relaxed state. Maybe I had also taken a little pressure off myself by letting go of my target time.

I really didn’t know what to expect of my body, especially in these conditions. This race was still going to be my longest run ever, having only previously run 34km in training. And I was aware of the increasing amount of runners stopping, piling up at the drink stations, sitting on the side of the road and so many walking those last 7kms so I was a bit weary. I guess in hindsight though, I probably slowed a little too much. First timer’s lack of confidence I guess. I really just wanted to enjoy the race and finish it smiling and in one piece.

In the end though, I wasn’t too far off my target time and I was super happy with my race overall! Surprisingly I ran with no pain or injury, and even managed a sprint to the finish as I hit the red carpet entering the amazing MCG!

Why I Loved My First Marathon

 

Thank you to all the amazing volunteers, cheers from spectators, and thanks to all of you who sent beautiful messages of good luck and congratulations, so greatly appreciated! A very special mention to my beautiful husband who rode around the course all morning to keep me cool and hydrated during Melbourne’s sudden heat, and support and encourage me all the way! It was also extra special to have my girls there at the end and share the excitement of the finish!

What did I love about my first marathon experience?

The “Runner’s High!”

Running a marathon was such an amazing experience!

Crossing the finish line came with a huge sense of relief. To be honest, that was my first and foremost feeling. I was expecting a much greater wave of emotion. But last Sunday was a hot day with blustery northerly winds, so I think my mind was just trying to keep my body under control and focusing so hard on the physical aspect of getting over the finish line.

But now, a week after the event, I can reflect on what it all really means. Put simply, it has made me feel so happy. I feel happy and also so relaxed too. In fact, I’ve been on a happy cloud and ever since the race!

Yes, it’s a lot of hard work and a huge physical and mental challenge, but I can honestly say, it’s definitely worth the RUNNER’S HIGH!

Happy to join the 1% Marathon Club

The marathon training process is long, hard and takes a huge commitment if you want to be well prepared. So to finally reach your goal after months of training, then enduring hours of physical and mental stress on race day, it really is a hugely satisfying milestone.

They say only 1% of the population will run a marathon in their lifetime. Completing my first marathon is a badge of honour that I will now always have. I am a MARATHON RUNNER and I’m so happy to join this very special club!

Why I Loved My First Marathon

A huge confidence booster

Setting out to achieve a goal, and one that took me way beyond my comfort zone, then actually achieving it, is a totally amazing feeling!

And with this massive goal done and dusted, there is a massive lift in confidence that comes with it. Huge confidence in fact, that I feel like I can chase down any next new dream…A new race? Another marathon but even faster? A totally new sport?…who knows, stay tuned!

I now love running even more!

Still on my runner’s high, I can honestly say that I love to run! Sounds silly I know because I must have loved to run before this marathon. Otherwise, why would I run so much? But the feeling I have is a bit different. Maybe I just feel more excited to run. To see what I can do next. I’m also excited at the prospects of chasing a new adventure!

First time marathon training also brought a new type of running experience for me. Training was really different from previous races, with less focus on speed, and much more time on long slow runs. These runs were also much longer, with many of them being my longest runs ever. I’d only ever run a maximum distance of 23km prior to starting this program. And with these longer runs, I found that I was able to find running quite therapeutic. Not sure if you would quite call it meditation, but I found myself regularly “in the zone”. And even though physically exhausted after these longest runs ever, I actually also felt relaxed and calm. I discovered another side to running, a tuning out space, and one that I really enjoyed.

I also loved sharing long runs with friends. As these sessions were supposed to be easy runs, we could chat and catch up all the way. And with the increased distances, I loved exploring new trails and routes. The power of peer support and encouragement is so amazing. Run buddies played a huge part in enjoying my training!

I feel fitter than ever

With the longer runs each week also came improved endurance fitness. I am so happy to say that I feel fitter than I have ever been. Yes, even at a mature age!

I only started running in my 40’s. As a total beginner, I couldn’t even run 1km without stopping at least 5 times. It took me quite a while to then knock over Parkrun without stopping all the time. And now that I am much closer to 50, I have just run my first marathon and feel healthier and fitter than ever! Honestly, it’s never too late to start running!

I learnt so much

I love to be prepared, especially when trying something new. So when I signed up for this marathon, I also set about researching what I needed to do to get over that finish line in one piece!

I learned about race nutrition and hydration, and how important it is to separate the two, endurance training, the importance of recovery, and the list goes on. Particularly in such tough conditions on race day, I really feel this knowledge and race preparation played a huge part in the success of my overall race and how I was able to also keep injury free. More details about what I learnt in a coming blog post.

Why I Loved My First Marathon

It’s opened up a whole new world of races that I can now try

Now that I’ve run my first marathon and my endurance fitness has also improved, it has opened up a whole new suite of events. There are now so many more races that  I would never have considered before, only ever running a half marathon previously.

So I’m excited to plan new runs and be confident of actually being able to finish. Whether they be more marathons, longer road races or adventurous trail runs, I can’t wait to get out and explore. And who knows, an ultra run may even be on the cards!

I’m so excited because I really feel that THE FUN HAS ONLY JUST BEGUN!

Are you tempted to now run your first marathon?

I can honestly say, it’s worth all the effort!

I’ll soon be sharing my process of how I prepared for this race in the next blog post.

And if I can do it, so can you!

 

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2 Replies to “Why I Loved My First Marathon”

    1. Thanks John! Appreciate your feedback!
      And thank you so much for all your support, advice and friendship throughout the whole experience. It really made a huge difference to the completion of my marathon!

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