Hard Lessons from My First Marathon

It took me a few weeks to fully recover from my first marathon. I think I needed the time not only for my physical muscle repair but also mentally as well. I felt lousy that I did not give 100%, and totally missed the mark of 3:40 goal. (I came in at 4:02.) Even going back and analyzing the run took me a while to do.

Past week or two, I finally felt ready to face the result. So I went back to take a look at the my pace chart.


The slowdown really happened around mile 19. That was right around 2:35. That’s when I let go of the race mentally, and started to mix walking and running. And that’s also when I started to get cramps on my calves and toes.

Looking at this chart, it looked really familiar to lot of my previous long runs.

Here are a few for the reference:


For some reason, my pace falters at about 60-70% into the run, and I had to start walking. I remember having muscle cramps on these training runs as well, and that must have been the reason why I decided to slow down.

On all these runs, I maintained about 8:15 pace, which was just about my pace for the marathon as well.

Why am I always falling apart in the mid run?

Here’s my thought:

  1. I was not eating early and regularly enough during the run. During my training runs, I consumed 2 gels during the run. But during my marathon, I ate 2 gels, 1 mini-Clif Bar, 1 banana, and 3 small cups of Gatorade. That must have helped me delay the first onset of muscle cramps. But even that was not enough to replenish my glycogen. Must eat more early on and east more regularly.
  2. I didn’t have enough aerobic running training. I am finding that there are specific reasons why I need easy runs. I need them because I need to increase aerobic efficiency, maintain my optimal running mechanics, reduce my recovery time to get more training miles, and avoid getting injuries. My training runs were too fast to be easy.
  3. I didn’t have mental preparation of running for 3+ hours. Going into the marathon, my longest run was 20 miler, and I had to start walking about 65% into the run. I never had the mental readiness to endure 3+ hour of continuous running.

Let’s see how these lessons can make me a better runner.

It’s time to execute.