the marseille marathon, a sweet PR, and a lesson in knowing if your race has over 1000 feet of inclines…

man i have a really hard time going back to real life after completing marathons…you focus all of your mental and physical energy on one event for months, and then it’s over in a few hours.

i knew i could break 4 hours, i ran the whole race knowing i could and would.

this was marathon #4 for me. just about exactly a year ago, i ran my first 26.2, in Paris. it was pretty treacherous, a combination of it being my first marathon, jet lag, wine, unfamiliar food and heat had me miserably crossing the finish line at 5:03. it took me months to shake the feeling of failure off. i had trained pretty hard for that race, but wasn’t mentally strong enough. so coming in at 3:57:11 feels pretty great. i worked really hard.

now here are the mistakes i made on the marseille course-

1- i knew NOTHING about the course! for some reason i thought this would be a relatively flat marathon. and had i known it would be harder than any course i’ve ever run, i probably wouldn’t of signed up. for reference…the New York Marathon, which i’d run this past November has about 640 feet of inclines…I thought this was the hardest marathon i’d ever run…the Marseille course had 1016 feet of incline. I was pretty shocked!

2-I went out WAY too fast! pretty 101 marathon ‘don’t’…the gun went off and i just felt GREAT, and so lucky to be there, and so happy, and so fit. i was just running, barely looking at my watch. it had been my plan to keep a steady 8:45 pace…but my first few miles were 8:05, 8:08, 8:30…all over the place! I was ahead of the 3:45 pace group til about mile 13, and the reality of my fast start hit.

3- I dumped a bunch of water over my head- which was great! what wasn’t great was missing my head and soaking the back of my shorts…miles 10-14 were run with heavy wet shorts…not the best feeling!

4- I did no research on the race til the week before…so…this marathon had not only a half marathon but also a 10k happening at the same time! that is insane. so many paces to throw you off, and signage that was very easy to miss directing all three races. i also only learned on race week that there were ZERO porta potty’s along the course. THIS IS INSANE. but luckily my body was on my side, and i had no emergencies…

and now for the things i did right-

1- i had a great time. so much of marathon running for me is mental. i was in such a happy and positive mindset, and the tough moments were fleeting- and marathons are supposed to be hard, that’s what makes finishers so damn badass.

2- i ate the day before. and i ate carbs. and i didn’t overthink it. as someone who lives in perpetual fear of putting on weight- this was sort of a big deal. but i think it paid off. simple foods. happy stomach.

3- i drank a gallon of water daily on race week. this was a HOT day. the temperature was around 70, and the sun was relentless. and even though wind is not a runner’s friend, it felt so good when it hit.

4- i took my race day outfit and gels for a trial run. a few days before the race i went out midday in similar heat and ran a few miles in my race outfit, gels and all. it was good mental prep to know that everything was working.

5- i hit my goal!

i will write a more thoughtful recap and review soon, but my mind is a little all over the place. i almost signed up for another marathon to run this weekend, since i know i have a faster time in me on a flatter course. but i’ve decided that’s not wise. i need to be proud of this, and live in the moment a bit.

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things got a bit intense at mile 22!

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