Being Honest

Since I started this blog back in November I’ve grown it on honesty. I’ve talked about the good, the bad, and the ugly of running. I mostly try to stick to a positive note because that’s more fun for me to write about and is probably more fun for you to read. That’s what makes this so tough. As most of you know I had my first marathon yesterday. Unfortunately, it was far from a positive experience. Very far.

Everything had been going perfectly leading up to the race. I was healthy, my legs felt fresh, and I was in racing mode. The first few miles went great – the pace was so easy it felt like I was just out for a jog. Then things took a turn for the worse. I ate my first GU as planned at 45 minutes in and soon after my stomach got queasy. After drinking some water at the next aid station things only got worse. I ended up puking soon after. I gritted out a few more painful miles before stopping around halfway.

I’ve replayed the whole scenario over in my head so many times trying to figure out what went wrong. My best guess is that it was a combination of pretty bad nerves and maybe drinking too much water in the race. I often joke with my running friends telling them that I have a stomach of steel. It’s not easily upset. I can eat food fairly close to running and be perfectly fine. Through this entire training cycle I have not had any stomach issues. I’ve fueled on my long runs (mostly with GU’s) and was just fine. That’s why this whole thing doesn’t make sense. The only other time I’ve puked in/during a race was one of my first 5k’s in middle school where I went out way too hard.

I know my stomach was a little upset before I started running. However, that’s the way my stomach always is before a race. I get nervous, my stomach gets a little jumpy, but that’s normal for me. I’m trying to learn from my mistakes, but it’s hard to when I don’t really know what caused this to happen.

I feel awful about dropping out of a race. I’ve NEVER done that before and I’ve been running in races since I was 7 years old. To have a DNF now is just plain embarrassing. The whole thing just seems surreal. It doesn’t feel like it really happened, but is just a horrible nightmare.

Logically, I do believe that stopping was the smartest thing to do. If I couldn’t keep down my fuel during the race then I would’ve hit the wall REALLY early. Plus, I don’t know if I could’ve kept down any more water, which would mean I would get very dehydrated. I’m also the type of runner that wouldn’t just be happy finishing a marathon. I want to finish somewhat well. I understand that making it to the finish line of a 26.2-mile race is a huge accomplishment in and of itself, but I know myself and I know I wouldn’t be happy finishing with a bad time.

As of right now, I’m pretty bummed. To think about all of the time and effort I put into this race is crazy. I never thought it would end this way. I spent most of yesterday in a horrible mood, but am ready to be done with that. After all, I’ve got some plans to redeem myself in a couple weeks, but I’m not quite ready to talk about that with people yet.

When I was younger I think the “runner” part of me was too much of my identity. I got too caught up in being an athlete and running well that I used it to define me. I would connect a bad performance with being a “bad person”, which is a horrible thing to do. Talk about killing your self-esteem. Yes, I am a runner and that is a big part of my identity, but that’s not all of my identity. There is so much more to me than just being a runner and I need to remember that.

I wanted to run well mostly for myself, but also for my family, and lastly for you guys. It’s been so awesome connecting with people through my blog. It would’ve been so great if I could tell everyone about how awesome my first marathon went, but that’s just not the way things turned out.

It’s been painful writing this post, but everyone who’s been supporting me deserves to know what happened. I had a few hours after my race yesterday where I was avoiding my texts and Facebook messages, but now I just have to pull off the Band-Aid and get it over with.

The honest truth is that there are ups and downs in running. Things don’t always go as planned. That would be impossible. I’ve had many a time over where I’ve had bad races, but I’ve also had a bunch of good races that make everything worth it. We gain strength from our failures and that’s what makes us better runners.

Thoughts on the Race

I thought that the Maine Coast Marathon was put together really well. It was an absolutely beautiful course. It went by the ocean a few times and we got a nice breeze. The temperature was rising throughout the day, so it was nice to feel the wind.

There were aid stations every mile or two and each one was a different charity. All of the runners would get to vote at the end as to which one was their favorite, and the winning aid station would win some money. I thought that was a great idea and I’ve never seen that at a race before.

I wish I could give a full race write-up, but I unfortunately only ran half of the race. I would love to be able to come back and run the race again. We have unfinished business together.

First Sighting

Like I said before, it’s been awesome connecting with people through my blog. I know it’s mostly my friends on Facebook that see my posts along with a handful of other bloggers. However, on Sunday I met the first person I didn’t know who had heard about my blog. I ran by my family along the course and they were all cheering, “Go Laurel!” when I went by. Another runner heard my name and recognized me from my blog. How cool is that!?!? He was very nice. I hope he had a good race! That was awesome!

Wrapping Up

At the moment I’m hanging with my awesome friend from Maine. She’s showed me all around her town and has taken me to some pretty cool places. What I need most right now are distractions. When I’m by myself I start reliving everything that happened on Sunday, but if I’m with people or doing stuff I can be perfectly happy because I forget what happened. My friend understands that and is being so supportive of me. I really do have some amazing people in my life. After all, it’s hard to be in a bad mood when you see this;

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25 thoughts on “Being Honest

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  4. laurel when the sun came out it got hot
    Fast. I hit the wall around mile 21. I had to walk and run. It was a very tough day. By the way I was the one that recognized you as we ran through Kennebunkport. What were the odds of that happening!!!

    • Hi Gary! That was so awesome seeing you in the race! It made a pretty awful day a little bit better. Yes, it definitely did get hot. I was feeling it even at halfway through. Sorry to hear that you hit the wall, but I guess that’s to be expected in the marathon. Do you have any more races coming up?

      • Hi Laurel! I have a few races I am focusing but the major ones for the year for me are the Beach2Beacon in August and the Maine Marathon in October. I took this week nice and easy to recover. Are you going to run the Maine Coast Marathon next year?

        • My friend is also doing the Beach2Beacon – it sounds like a very popular race! Good luck with that one and your fall marathon. I’m considering running the Maine Coast Marathon again. It’ll depend on where it falls in comparison to my final exams probably. I might just end up doing the Vermont City Marathon since it’s closer.

  5. I’m sorry your first marathon didn’t go well but I really appreciate the honesty of your post. I think sometimes we put such big expectations on ourselves as runners but please don’t feel as if you’ve let yourself or anyone else down. I was talking to my Mom (multi-marathoner) this weekend and our discussion centered around how your training can go so well but race day can still just suck for some random and unforeseen reason. Better luck with marathon number 2!

    • Thanks so much. I really appreciate it. I agree – race day holds way more unforeseen challenges than are expected. Training can go great, but there’s always a possibility of something random happening on race day.

  6. You are amazing, Laurel, and I know you will bounce back and be stronger than ever after this! Just keep smiling and keep running and it will all come together 🙂 Good luck!

  7. Amazing post. You made the right choice on Sunday – there’s no way you could have done the race the way you wanted if you weren’t able to keep fuel and water down! Sometimes our bodies seem to revolt on us at the worse times. This was just the first of many marathons for you and the next one will be a success. If you need any distractions – you’re welcome to come on over and do yard work! 😉 hehe You’re an inspiration, Laurel, and I truly admire you!!

    • Thanks, Jus. I’m pretty sure I actually got some sort of stomach bug as my stomach is still feeling jumpy. Much better than Sunday, but my appetite is way off. Yeah, I might come over and do some yard work soon! Love you!

  8. ah so sorry about your first marathon experience… mine was marked by major stomach problems as well, probably something to do with nerves and I, too, felt disappointed at the end. Don’t beat yourself up about it though, if you are strong enough to make it to the start line once you will certainly make it there again : ) remember DNF also means “did nothing fatal”!

  9. Laurel, this may have been your first marathon attempt but it won’t be your last and I’m sure your next one will have a finishing time and a good one. You know your body better than anyone so although seeing that DNF hurts, it was the right thing to do.

  10. OMG Laurel! So sorry. But hang in there. In the long run, many of us will get tons of inspiration out of this post and so will you someday. I know it hurts now, but BELIEVE ME, this will be a stepping stone to future successes. Very brave. In the words of Steve Jobs “some day you will connect the dots.” You’re in all of our thoughts and prayers, and good luck next time!

  11. I love the honesty in this post, congratulations for doing your best on the day in the circumstances you were handed, in the end that’s all you can ever do. Good Luck on the next marathon!

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