Chasing The Dream: My First Marathon
As a pandemic runner and three years into running, I never saw myself running long distance races, especially a full marathon. In those three years, I’ve only managed to join virtual races and just two actual races which are the PF SUB1 10K in 2022 and VIDA RUN to ZERO 2022’s 21K half marathon which was officially my first ever long run and I managed to finish at a time of 2:12.
Accepting The Marathon Challenge
It was around the middle of the year 2022 when Pinoy Fitness asked us, writers/contributors if we’d like to represent them for TBR Dream Marathon 2023. Without hesitating, I immediately said yes. I thought to myself, to become a marathoner is every runner’s dream. But then my heart skipped a beat after agreeing to join my first marathon. I was doubting myself. Was I really ready to do a full marathon? I wasn’t fully confident with myself given that the longest run I’ve done up to this point was only 10K. But I agreed to join to prove to myself that I could go the distance. To prove to everyone that running has become a way of life for me. To prove to myself that this marathon will help me become a better person. I believe I will be stronger and I will be more confident about myself.
The Training Process
Training for my first marathon was not as easy as a piece of cake. I had no idea how to prepare for my first marathon. Thankfully, TBR was made for those who have no experience with running a full marathon. They gave out a 20-week training plan for beginners which made training easier for me. TBR also had some online talks to give us an idea of our first marathon experience as well as training sessions for every participant to gather and train together. But this was only like 4 or 5 group training sessions. Outside those sessions, I was running alone. This made training a struggle for me. Running alone was giving me self doubts. I had no one by my side during my runs. My mind was going places. I was having negative thoughts that I would not be fully prepared for my first marathon. Luckily, I managed to find a running group that organizes weekly long runs that follows the TBR training module, the UPDreamers. I am so thankful for this group. They were the reason why I got up so early in the morning. The UPDreamers pushed me to run longer distances weekly.
During one training session, I managed to hurt my knee while running down a steep hill. I wasn’t able to fully bend my left knee. My fellow runners were pushing me to rest and recover. But during long runs, my knee would just give up after 18-19 kilometers.
I got so scared, frustrated, and embarrassed that I thought of withdrawing my entry from the race. I thought that it was over for me. I wasn’t able to run for less than 2 weeks. Thankfully, after resting and doing some strength and conditioning exercises, my knee was able to recover enough and just in time before race week. I found hope again. I regained confidence that I would be able to complete my first marathon.
Anxious. That was how I felt while waiting for the gun start at the starting line. I wasn’t fully confident that I would finish the race. Thinking that it would take a miracle for me to cross the finish line. The route was 4 loops of around 10.5 kms per loop. Things were going smooth for the first 2 loops. I was running with three of my running mates from training and we were pacing each other since the start of the race. On the third loop, I started to feel some pain in my left knee. The same knee that I injured during training. But I shook off the negative thoughts and reminded myself of the reasons why I was doing the marathon. Thank God for the dream chasers as well. They gave us runners the extra push that we needed. The muscle sprays that our body needed to recover even just for a tiny bit. After all of these, we pushed through pains, muscle soreness, cramps and went on to finish the race. I was holding back tears as soon as I was approaching the finish line. I made it! I chased the dream! I’m officially a marathoner! Tears almost burst when I saw and hugged my friends, my loved ones, and my girlfriend. You guys were one of the main reasons why I pushed through and finished the race. Thank you for coming with me without even asking you guys to do so.
Running a marathon requires discipline, dedication and patience. It’s gonna be a very long journey, thus you have to be committed in the process. Also, our body isn’t used to running long distances. Know that the journey is going to be painful. Which is why rest and recovery plays a major role in preparing for a marathon.
A training group really helps. Go out and find a group that will push and motivate you through training. Running alone is good, but running with someone is a whole lot better. You won’t even recognize how far you’ve gone or how long you’ve been running with a group by your side.
Proper nutrition will play a major role. Plan what nutrition that would suit you best. Experiment which energy gels to use during training. Know when to hydrate with water or sports drinks. Try salt sticks. I wasn’t fond of using salt sticks at first, but I realized they really help prevent cramps and sometimes energy gels and water aren’t enough to keep you hydrated.
Lastly, remember your whys. When you’ve hit your walls during training or even the race, go back to why you started in the first place. It will give you that extra push and energy that you need to finish what you’ve started.
The TBR Dream Marathon 2023 was definitely something that I will cherish for the rest of my life. It helped me become a stronger person not just in running, but in other aspects of life as well. So, thank you TBR for making my first marathon the best race of my life so far. I’m definitely looking forward to training with future first timers with their first marathon.