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My First Marathon

I thought I was going to have a huge marathon post waiting to be published on marathon Monday but between my inability to walk after running 26.2 miles and the election, I'm just getting to this. I went home after the marathon so I could vote and I rushed back to NYC on Tuesday morning. Then I had a bunch of work to do including getting ready for my yoga class last night. And now I'm here. I still can't believe I ran my first marathon on Sunday!

Let me say first that my appetite greatly increased after the run and with the stress of the election, my eating turned into binge eating and stress eating the past couple days. Is it possible to gain weight over 3 days because I may have? It took me two days to fully be able to walk normally again and today I'm still dealing with muscle aches and tight legs. I'm so proud of myself! That marathon was THE hardest thing I've done in so long. I'm writing this out here to take you through my journey and to kind of relive it myself.

Let me say I'm such a dreamer. When I first signed up for this marathon, I had all these thoughts as to how it would all look like. Usually my daydreams never come true as it was in this case. I take this as a sign to stop planning so much and just let things happen the way they happen. I thought I was going to lose 20 pounds, I thought I was going to run the race in 4.5 hours, I thought was going to jump on a city bike after the race and furiously pedal home. None of that happened! I have always struggled with weight loss and stress eating and nothing was different this time. But no matter what I think it's going to look like, even if it doesn't go the way it goes in my mind, I always accomplish my goals or go through with what I planned to do.

My training:
I struggled with an achilles injury early this year and then an IT band/back issue later this year so I felt like I was always juggling those two issues around my training. Therefore, I only ran three times a week because anymore would have meant injury. I tore my achilles in March, a week before the NYC half, and had to defer to 2017. Injuries are devastating, they are such a buzzkill, and this particular injury meant I could't run for almost two months. It was crazy and frustrating and I started up running again in May feeling completely out of shape. And thus started my marathon training. May and June were getting back to running, trying to beat the heat, trying to avoid injury, meeting my Team for Kids team members and attending some practices. I also ended my part time nanny job and was looking for something else to supplement my income and trying to visit my family as much as possible so I wouldn't miss out on my niece.

After June, something clicked and my runs became high quality, fun times and I felt fit and healthy. I started building up my miles, got new running shoes and was killin it. It feels great when you have a few weekends in a row of good high quality runs. Then after mile 15, around August, I started peetering out. I missed a few runs due to feeling tired or stressing out my calf/achilles. My IT band started hurting me and my training dipped a little. By the time the 18 miles run in Central Park rolled around, I felt out of sync with my training and my aches and pains started really bothering me. I did an 18 mile run and then backed down my miles, did another 18 mile run and just maxed out there. I was very nervous about my training and began feeling under-prepared. I worried and freaked out and was feeling overwhelmed by training. My coaches told me that 18 miles was enough and not to worry. I bought a foam roller, amped up the stretching, bought new shoes and just tried to chill. I completed a marathon with a 3 day a week running schedule and a max run of 18 miles. You can run a marathon without overdoing it. Some runners can't run often because of recurring injuries and as long as you are getting to the root of the injury and cross-training as much as possible, you will be fine. My takeaway? Cross-training (biking, in my case, yoga, elliptical, swimming) is just as important as the actual running. Rest and recovery is just as important as running. Don't skimp on cross-training or rest.

My diet:
It was always vegan of course but it wasn't always clean. I wouldn't say I went nuts over the summer but I definitely did not follow a strict eating schedule or calorie count. I went through phases of raw vegan then healthy cooked food, crappy junk food, vegan donuts, eating out at vegan restaurants with fried appetizers. I had a drink or two of alcohol when I wanted to let loose with my friends. I increased my water intake and ate my greens. So I can't tell you how to eat when you're training because I don't even know what the hell I'm doing. Find the foods that fuel your runs, that make you feel great and keep your energy up and that is what you should fuel your body with. In my case, chia seed pudding fueled alot of my long runs. Clif bars and giant salads. Recovery foods: a smoothie, a donut or 6, avocado pudding, ice cream. Try to keep the junk to a minimum because it will eventually catch up to you. I did a post about all the foods that help fuel my long runs.

The marathon:
I was so so incredibly nervous before the marathon. Because I ran with Team for Kids, we had our own heated tent with food and drinks and a place to chill out (and our own bathrooms!). I was in Wave 4 so I had a long wait and by 10AM, it was getting ridiculous. I wanted to keep a positive attitude but my hip and leg were hurting and I forgot to take Ibuprofen with me (I know, it's not a super safe med but it helps ALOT). Anyway, by the time we stretched and made our way to the corrals, I was still nervous but starting to feel kinda pumped. We took off to Frank Sinatra's New York, New York and I took it slow over the Verazzano bridge. I broke up the marathon into boroughs in my mind and also before family time and after family time. I started out fast, which is what they warned us not to do. I stayed with the 4:50 pacers until about Mile 9 then I had to start slowing down. I slayed Brooklyn, though, I ran through Brooklyn pretty fast and before I knew it we were in Queens. Where I kind of tanked alot. My leg was super hurting and I was starting to get tired. The Queensboro Bridge was difficult but after that we were in Manhattan! It was so amazing seeing my family at Mile 17 and I was able to stop and talk to them, eat a banana and go. After I saw my family, I started walking a little bit and running in between. East Harlem and the Bronx were super difficult but my mind kind of cleared when I reached 5th Ave

5th Ave started an AMAZING stretch to the race. I saw my friend Nicole and she ran up the dreaded 5th Ave hill with me. We just talked about stuff other than the race and she helped take my mind off my pain and exhaustion. It was epic. It helped me so so much. And the Park kind of went quickly. I actually started sprinting in the park because I kind of got a second wind and was ready to see my last group of friends and to cross the finish line. As we dipped back out of the park and onto 59th St, heading west, I saw my three friends, my last supporters of the day. It was AMAZING. I hugged them and we got pictures and my friend Annie took a video.  And then they started RUNNING with me. They ran up 59th St until they couldn't go any further because of the barricades. Their support and shot of love helped me run pretty quickly to the finish. It was such an epic ending. If you run a marathon, ask your family and friends to be there. If they can't, wear your name on your shirt and take in all the cheers. It will indeed carry you to the finish!

I was in immense pain post marathon. My right leg that had the IT band pain was not working properly. My quad was on fire and the next morning, my right knee was not bending properly so I limped everywhere. It felt like the ligament connecting my calf to my knee was involved so I just took it easy. I'm lazy and did not ice anything but I took Ibuprofen and tried to stretch. I went home to vote and my mom treated me to a massage which was great. Two more days passed and I was walking normally. Yesterday I biked and stressed out my quads again so lots of foam rolling and stretching are happening now. Do not run the week after the marathon even if you feel alot better. Your body will be recovering for a few weeks. I plan on running again in December. I'm going to bike in the meantime and do alot of yoga and eat lots of kale. Kale is my jam lately!

Will I do a marathon again? Yes but maybe not next year. I want to get my injuries under control and keep running shorter distances. I have a 6 mile run in January lined up along with a 4 mile run in February and the NYC half marathon in March. Will I clean up my diet totally? That's the story of my life. Yes I will but I'm going to do it in easy, realistic ways. Patience during the holiday season will be in order and I want to get my yoga and meditation practice back up and running. Too often I neglect that and I don't take time to breathe and stretch, which is what I'm ALWAYS telling my students to do.

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  1. Wow. I am sincerely impressed as this is something I have always wanted to do but never thought that I could!!!!!

  2. Great energy and a great achievement! Good job Nicole!

  3. Thank you both so much!!! Heather, you should definitely do a marathon!


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