How I Prepared for My First Full Marathon

On November 30th I ran my first full Marathon, the Seattle Marathon. And it was awesome. And meaningful. And hard. And perfect.

Why I Registered for 26.2:

Running a full marathon has been on my bucket list for quite some time. But it was an item on the list far off, in the distance, perhaps in a different life. After running my third half marathon, the 13.1 race was beginning to lose some of the novelty. It was of course, still challenging- but it wasn’t a new challenge. I kept feeling like life was too short to wait. If not now, when? I can thank some liquid courage for actually registering for the race online. I had been eyeing the race for a few weeks. The race was 12 weeks out- almost enough time to train starting where I was, albeit a little behind schedule. My sister would be visiting the NW from Boston and I knew I wanted to have her there.

I can’t explain exactly why, but I knew this was the race I was meant to run. It was a decision made with my intuition and my heart; my logical mind had little to do with the choice. I didn’t have a specific goal time. My only goals were to finish, not die, and not get injured. Not necessarily in that order.

Training (or lack there of) & Injury:

I will say right off the bat that I didn’t get the famous “20 mile training run” in before the marathon, even though I planned to do so. If you want a second opinion about the merits of the Long Training run, I highly suggest reading this article. Disclaimer: I DID NOT FOLLOW MY TRAINING “PLAN” AND I DO NOT RECOMMEND MY LACK OF PREPARATION. I am sharing this not as an example to follow, but only to provide the honest account of my experience.

The longest distance I ran before the race was 16 miles. 8 weeks into the training I went on a 15 mile run and the next day I had a lot of pain in my left knee (the outer part of the knee- likely IT-band related, a common malady known as Runner’s Knee) and in the sole of my right foot. My foot healed in about 5 days, but my knee took almost 2 weeks to get back to 100 percent.

Those two lost weeks of recovery were crucial in my training plan- I was supposed to be logging some major miles. I made the decision that it was more important to heal than to rigidly stick to my plan. I never pushed it and the longest run I did in those 2 weeks was about 6 miles. I think this was the absolute best decision I made throughout the process. Throughout the 12 weeks of training I listened to my body rather than following my schedule. I think this is somewhat unorthodox. Most of what I have heard and read is about how important it is to follow your training schedule to a T. I have always been in the camp of listening to my body over anything else. It is true that I did not follow the 10% rule and that is what likely led to my week 8 injury. But you know what? Life happened. I was miserably sick week 4 of training, so weeks 3-5 were pretty much worthless as I came down with and recovered from whatever bug I had. I was working crazy hours and it was hard to find the time to log the miles. I was tired and lazy. It was football season. A billion excuses and more. Would I train differently if I could do it over? The responsible-runner voice in me says yes, obviously. But the truer, imperfect, real Becca says probably not. At this point in time I don’t want running to be something I schedule my life around. Maybe that will someday change, but I kinda doubt it.


The Week before the Race:

The week before the race I was busy preparing to host my first Thanksgiving. I was also extremely nervous because come Sunday I was going to attempt to run 10 miles longer than I ever had. Not to mention everything I had heard about the Seattle Course was “It’s extremely hilly.” I was pretty much terrified and doubting myself. My game plan was to eat lots of healthy carbs (not a problem given the heaps of vegan mashed potatoes, stuffing, and brussel sprouts I made for the holiday), and stay hydrated (this one was a little harder but I managed alright).

The Day Before the Race:

Husband Jon, friend Dontae, sister Alicia, and I drove up to Seattle, and checked into the hotel just 3 blocks away from the Space Needle and the start line. My sis and I made a last minute decision to get an extra hotel room so the 4 of us wouldn’t have to share a room (the boys snore), and I took my sister with me to the health expo to pick up my packet. It was her first expo and she got a kick out of it. The full marathon was the last event to start, beginning at 8:15 am, so I wasn’t too concerned about getting to bed early, especially since I knew I would have trouble sleeping anyways. We decided the logical thing to do would be to stroll the aisles of Walgreens. We ended up buying facials and lotion and basically converted the hotel room into a mini spa. I tried on my race outfit for her, laid out all of my clothes, and paced around the room a lot while chugging water. It was so fun to spend quality time with my sister. The only thing left to do was wake up and run.

Next post will be a recap of the race itself!

2 thoughts on “How I Prepared for My First Full Marathon

  1. Aha.! That’s what I want to have.!! A sort of “feeling” about when and what race I should run. I want it to be special and just right. I already know I can run it.. I’ve run several 20 milers.. but I just can’t seem to dedicate myself to the full.. I like how in depth and long your posts are 🙂

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