My amazing friend Tawny (she has a blog and IG and is crazy fast with the best tips, so follow her!) did a post about all of her marathons and the lessons that she learned at each one and I loved reading it. I asked her if I could copy her idea and she said to go for it!
Here are the 11 marathons I have run and lessons that I have learned from each one.
1. Salt Lake City Marathon 2010. 3:20
-This was my very first marathon and the first race that I had ever trained for (I had done one half marathon before this but didn’t train for it and paid for that by being sore for 3 weeks straight). I learned that day how much I love the marathon. I went into the marathon thinking that it was going to be a one and done experience and left the race course craving more and more. My goal was to complete the race and I ended up finishing 5th woman overall. I had never really felt like I excelled in a lot of things at this point in my life (more I just got by whether it was schooling/sports/hobbies and I was never very consistent) and I realized I had uncovered a big passion of mine and that was extremely exciting. It changed my life because ever since that day I have dreamed about what marathon is next!
-My first three marathons were before I started blogging and I really didn’t know much about the sport at all so I WORE RACING FLATS for the first time EVER for my first 26.2 miles. My feet hurt so bad and I learned a lot that day about not trying anything new on race day.
-To eat. I saw people around me eating while running the marathon which confused me at first and I learned the hard way when the wall hit me like a train. I learned that you NEED to be eating throughout the race because a few sips of Gatorade isn’t going to cut it. It took about 7 more marathons to learn how much and how often to eat but this was the first time I had any idea that people ate while running.
2. Utah Valley Marathon 2010. 3:08. The only picture I could find from this race… it’s a little one.
-I don’t remember this race that well but I do remember being at the starting line in a tank top and shorts and it was SNOWING. I remember thinking… I probably should have done a little research about what to wear.
-Don’t run a race that passes right in front of your house at mile 23… the mental test of not just running straight inside to my couch instead of finishing the race is not a test I want to take again.
-Don’t be disappointed in the steps along the way to get to your big goals (even though this took me a few marathons to learn). After my first marathon I told myself that my next marathon would be sub 3… so while I had a 12 minute PR, I was mad I didn’t get 2:59. Little did I know it was going to take me 8 years and that these big goals of ours take so much time and work. Life is a lot more fun if we celebrate all of the small victories along the way.
3. Top of Utah Marathon 2010. 3:04.
-I found out that I was going to run this race 3 days before the race. I remember it being a fabulous day because I had zero pressure on myself (because it was such a last second thing) and that made all of the difference. I cheered for myself and talked positively so while the taper/training wasn’t great for this race… my mental game gave me another PR and I learned how nice it is to not put so much pressure on ourselves. We perform a lot better if we are positive and enjoy the experience a lot more too.
-I completely remember during this marathon learning about how much things change. I remember hurting half-way through the race big time and wondering how I was going to hold on but then reminding myself that the pain comes in waves. I just told myself to get through the mile I was in and that I was going to feel better afterwards. It’s crazy to me how much things change over the course of a marathon and that day I kept reminding myself to just hold on until the next wave of feelings.
-This lesson was more of a result of this marathon so afterwards: My big injuries started right after this race… from knee problems to stress fractures to you name it, my body was not happy. I learned through these first marathons that you cannot under fuel your body and expect it to run. It might work for a season but after that you are toast. I was dealing with amenorrhea and not giving my body what it needed for the amount of activity that I was doing. My body broke down after this marathon and I’m running MUCH faster now… 25ish lbs heavier. I didn’t run another marathon after this one until I was having a regular menstrual cycle again.
4. New York City Marathon 2011. 3:35.
-How much better bagels are in New York compared to Utah. I remember taking full advantage of all of the bagels and other free food in the village before the race and having some cramping issues because of that. While I love free food, it’s so important to eat the things you have trained with on race day.
-Running with people is fun. Skinny Runner and I ran into each other in the corrals at the beginning and then ran the entire race together. I think the only other person I had ever run with before this was my sister and I realized during this race how much I LOVE the social aspect that we can gain from running.
-That there is always another race. Always. Earlier that year I had to drop out of Boston right before the race because of femoral stress fractures. I was DEVASTATED. I thought my running life was over and just so sad about the situation. I was able to instead do New York that year and it was an unforgettable day. I really want to get back to this race again because there is nothing like it. I also learned that day that not every race is going to be a PR and for me personally, I need those races too… where I am just there to sit back and relax (which will only make sense to us crazy runners;) and take in the scenery.
5. Utah Valley Marathon 2014. 3:29.
-I learned from this marathon that pool running is fabulous for our cardio but it doesn’t prepare us for any hills. Oh and pool running really softens your feet which resulted in terrible blood blisters on your feet during the race. Leading up to this marathon I had an injury and spent 5 weeks in the pool leading up to the race (I think with just one run in those 5 weeks a few days before the race ((like a 3 miler)). Pool running really helped me to hold onto a lot of my cardio fitness but not so much the muscular strength that I needed for a marathon. Long story short, it’s doable to only pool run for 5 weeks leading up to a marathon but it isn’t enjoyable.
-Emotional pain will drain your running. This was my first marathon after my divorce and Brooke was actually being picked up that morning ON the course. No matter how fit we are… some things hurt so bad emotionally and drain us. It wasn’t the time for me to be shooting for race goals… I should have been spending more time on healing and processing what I had been through.
– I learned how incredibly painful it is to go out WAY to fast in a race for your current fitness level. I went out at a pace that I used to be able to handle and wasn’t fit enough to do it at that point. That 3rd segment hurt really really bad and luckily I had my sister there to tell me stories the entire time.
6. St. George Marathon 2014. 3:12.
-I learned that day that the St. George Marathon is my absolute favorite marathon and my opinion has not swayed from that:). I grew up in St. George and just love that place with all of my heart. The red rock, the gorgeous scenery all along the way, the whole city being out to cheer on the runners and the course just made me fall so deeply in love with this course.
-My first negative split race ever. I’m sure the St. George course had something to do with that but it was my first experience pacing a course well and how nice it felt to speed up as the race went on rather than slow down which is what has happened in the majority of my marathons:)
-It was my first marathon ever with Brooke at the finish line and I learned that day how much that meant to me and how much having my people at the finish line got me through some of the tough miles.
7. Boston 2015. 3:12.
-TO ADJUST YOUR TIME GOALS TO THE WEATHER. This was a year of major headwind (I think it was 30 mph most of the way) and a lot of rain and cold. I was stubborn and went out for my time goal of 3:00 and then starting at mile 17ish I slowed down more and more with each mile. If the weather is bad, there will always be another race where you can go for your time goal. Focus on your effort and doing your best but if you don’t adjust your paces a bit… the weather WILL catch up to you.
-Red eyes + Janae = disaster. I learned for that race to never take a red eye again on my way to a race. I felt wrecked and it wasn’t worth the $50 I saved on the redeye ha. Our sleep leading up to a race is SO important so prioritize that if you are shooting for a PR.
-SAVE IT FOR THE HILLS! This course is so easy to get lost in speed during the first half but you really just have to save some of your gas for the hills and miles 18-22ish.
8. Tucson 2015. 3:10.
-To stay in my own lane. I went out too fast for many reasons but one of them was because I wanted to catch the girl ahead of me. That kind of thing works great at the end of the race, but not the beginning. At about mile 13 or so I saw her peel off the course and a different runner jumped on and I realized then that THEY WERE DOING A RELAY… My competitiveness caused me to go out faster than I was ready for and then crash and burn the last 10k as I was racing against someone in a different race. The marathon can really bite you if you don’t pace wisely so this one taught me to run the paces I know I need to run regardless of what everyone is doing around me.
-To give your body a break when it needs it. I had been in marathon training pretty much the entire year until this point with some health problem thrown in forcing me to miss St. George that year. We have SO many years of racing and just one body… I really should have let my body recover a bit better and heal before trying another marathon so shortly after being so sick!
-To double knot your shoes for a marathon and I have ever since.
9. St. George 2016. 3:15.
-I learned at this race that I had married the most supportive person on the planet. Andrew and I had just gotten married a few months before this marathon and he had Brooke and Knox (3 at the time) all over the course to cheer me on as many times as possible. I had craved having a partner to support and be supported by for SO SO SO long and it was finally happening. No better feeling in the world.
-I learned that day that visors are the absolute best when you are running a sunny/hot race. They keep the sun out of your eyes while allowing the heat to escape out of your head still.
-Always put bags of ice in your sports bra when you are hot during a marathon and then thank me later for the tip. It cools you down SO fast.
10. St. George 2018. 2:59.
-I’m not going to cry, I’m not going to cry, I’m not going to cry <— just something I have to remind myself when I think deeply about this race because it was such an incredible experience. I learned how valuable it is to focus on your present. Focusing on the miles up ahead is a waste of energy and time. If I can just be present and focus on doing the best I can in that moment… that is all I can do. Putting my thoughts on the future just brings me anxiety and a stomachache ha.
-Deena Kastor is the best marathon teacher. I read her book before this race and it made all the difference on race day for me. I focused on gratitude throughout the miles and especially when things hurt. I MADE my own joy when I wanted to focus on my cramping. I decided to be stubborn about my goals rather than letting them fall through my fingers again because of quitting and slowing down. I chose to feel like I BELONGED and that I had control over the outcome that day.
-I learned how much sweeter accomplishing the goal feels when you’ve really put in the work, failed over and over again and dreamed about something for a long time. If my goal of a sub 3 marathon was met on my 2nd marathon like I wanted it to, I don’t think I would have felt as amazing as I did after the marathon 8 years ago. God’s plan is the best plan and celebrating that sub 3 with Andrew and my kids was just the best of the best and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
-Okay, 4 for this one. You can fool yourself into thinking that your legs aren’t that tired during a race. You can fool yourself into hitting your dream paces even if your brain is telling you to slow down…. BUT you CANNOT fool poor racing nutrition. I remember in 2011 I ate candy on the way to the start of a half marathon and felt like death during the race. I had a few marathons where I started fueling at mile 15 and pretty much had to crawl the last 6 miles. BUT what I really remember is the races where I fueled properly and while I was tired at the end, I never felt that depleted/zero glycogen/want to die feeling during the race. I now go into half-marathons and marathons eating 600+ calories in the morning and fueling regularly throughout the race (every 30-40 minutes). Fueling properly has been a game changer for my running and I’m so glad I now know how much more enjoyable long runs/marathons are now that I’m eating enough. We don’t expect our cars to run without gas so why in the world would we expect our bodies to run without calories during a race?!
11. Boston 2019. 3:28.
-I did this marathon just a few weeks after my 50 miler so I definitely did not go into it with any time goals. I took every step of the experience in and enjoyed it. I smiled, I waved, I ate everything people passed out to me and I have the best memories from that day. This race taught me how much fun it is to just do a race for fun every now and then. Why not just enjoy it and soak it all in?!
-If you smile pretty much for an entire marathon… your cheeks will in fact be sore the next day.
-Runners are some of the absolute best people out there. That’s the thing about Boston… the actual race is incredible (and it’s so fun to talk to so many different runners along the way) but the whole weekend—> People are just the best. Everyone is excited to hear about each other, supportive and so so friendly!
12. St. George 2019….
Just guessing here but I think the biggest lesson will be to KEEP dreaming big and that I’m stronger than I could have ever imagined (aka a lesson we ALL need to realize:)!
Who has run any of the races that I mentioned? How did it go for you?
Give me some of your biggest lessons that you’ve learned during some of your races?
What are 4 running accessories you can’t live without? (ie visor, watch, compression socks etc)?
Ever had a HUGE positive split during a race… tell me about it!