Reflections: First Marathon

In Life After College, Running, Uncategorized by jfree0072 Comments

What kind of crazy person signs up to run 26.2 miles? What’s the point? So you finished now what? Keep reading for the answers to these questions and more! My New River Marathon story! Let’s see if I can convince you to run a marathon with me!!!

The Decision to Run My First Marathon

I just wanted to know if I could do it! I’ve always wanted to know if I had it in me, mentally and physically, to knock out a marathon. If you already know me then you know that I think very highly of myself. To the point where I think there is very little that I cannot do if I am given a reasonable amount of time to practice it. That’s just who I am and how I was raised.

Throughout my life I have gone through difficult things before, who hasn’t right?

However, I had never truly tested myself physically before. The marathon seemed like a perfect blend of the mental challenges that I know and love, as well as the physical challenges that are somewhat new to me.


Things to do After College: Run a Marathon

The Training (Approx. 18 weeks before the Finish Line)

Training started for me Not gonna lie as far as marathon training goes I took it kinda casually. I didn’t change my diet too drastically, because I already eat pretty healthy most days. I moved runs around to fit my schedule so that I didn’t miss too many thing with friends and family. Did zero speed work.

I’m sure some of you are appalled by this, but I wasn’t concerned with being first…this time. For me, running is first and foremost for fun! If it stops being fun I’m not gonna do it anymore!

My goal for this marathon was to finish. I didn’t care about time or anything else, I just wanted to finish to prove to myself that I could!

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4 Benefits of Working Part-Time After College

Weekend of the Race

Did my best impression of a calm person all weekend. My mom and I drove up the day before the race because Fleetwood is about 2hrs from Charlotte.

We stayed at a pretty decent resort and it was a lot of fun hanging out before we had to run the next day. (She ran the 4 miler!!!)

Around 6pm, I think it started to hit us. Tomorrow we are gonna have to be on our A Game! It is a little disconcerting!

Going to sleep was no easy task. I read inspirational quotes, watched last minute race tip videos, did some meditating…literally anything to make myself go to sleep! Finally I watched some My Hero Academia, I did this a lot during training for motivation and for some reason it helped me fall asleep.

Running the Race (Break Down by Miles)

Start Line: I think I have everything. Let me look at the checklist one more time. Headband, Body Glide, Electrolyte pills, Energy Chews, 2nd Headband, Headphones, Phone…

I think I’m good and they are about to start! Last chance to back out! (Horn blows) Nevermind, we’re doing it!

  • Miles 1-6: Feeling good everything is going well. The mountains look beautiful and the sun is shining!Reflections: First Marathon
  • Miles 7-12: Realized I was going a little fast at the beginning, gotta slow the pace down a little. Also found a friend to run with!
  • Mile 13: Half way there! Feeling decent not dying yet. Changed up a few things cause the last hill was a little hard… not drinking a lot of water but hydration feels decent.
  • Miles 14-18: Dammit…I should have drank more water! Feeling some muscle cramps so slowing the pace and eating more of my nutrition gels. Why is it so hot??? Where did all the trees go?
  • Mile 19: Kill me! This is so stupid! Why would anyone want to do something like this? I hate EVERYTHING!!!
  • Miles 20-21: Am I still running? Yes and no basically limp running to the next aid station. Oh wow passing the 20 mi sign? This just became my longest workout ever!
  • Miles 22-25: Time to dig deep! I am going to finish this! There is no way in hell I did all those other miles to drop out now! Mantra: If I couldn’t I wouldn’t, I can so I will!!!
  • Mile 26: Who put this mountain here? Am I doing switch backs right now? Why is this so steep??? Ugh…if I stop I bet I’ll just roll back down. Wait a second is that Mommy standing at the top of the hill??? I bet I can run to her!
  • Mile 26.2: I know its not a full mile but at this point I am so exhausted it might as well be. My right leg is barely moving because my muscles are so tight!!! But, I can kinda see the finish line and Mom is here… I guess we can jog this out!

Finish Line: I am sooo tired and happy and hurting and it was worth it to get here! I know I started here but I feel very different than I did when I stood here this morning.

I’m a marathoner now.

Months of training and dedication. Blood, sweat, and tears (definitely cried after some of the hard days of training). Sheesh never realized how much weight that holds, and the craziness you put yourself through to get that title.

Questions I’ve Been Asked (+Answers)

  • Why would you ever want to do something like that?

The main reason was to prove to myself that I could, as I already mentioned. But, I often thought to myself, “Hey why not?” I had no reason not to do it. I had the time, I had a healthy body that could take the strain, I had the support of the people who matter. It was almost a no-brainer!

  • Why would you pay for it when you could just run outside?

I don’t pay for the running. Of course I know that I can run outside for free. In the 18+ weeks of training I did a lot of outside running and I get it.

I pay for the support and the experience.

All my runners know that once you start breaking into the double digits you need to carry a variety of things with you. It is great to have volunteers along the way that have some of these things so you have less to consider during the race.

Also, the experience of getting to run with other passionate people and getting to cross that finish line is well worth the money to me.

But yes, it is free to just go run outside.

  • What’s the point?

    The New River!!!

The point was to prove to myself that I could. I love challenges and other people telling me I couldn’t do it was just icing on the cake!

To be honest it felt like a video game. Having to grind out miles to make myself stronger before going against the final boss. I know I’m a nerd, but it was a fantastic journey. It proved to me that I can go beyond other people’s expectations, fear of failure, and the screaming protests of my own body!

  • Did it hurt?

Hell yeah it hurt!!! I had the worst cramps of my life coming up the crazy hill at the end. My thigh felt like someone was squeezing a vice around it. My feet were on fire. My quads were basically shot from all the downhills. Like I said, I can’t wait to do it again!

  • How do you run so far?

Training, Training, Training… I used a training program created by Hal Higdon.

I thought it was great for a beginning long distance runner like myself. The program would be great for someone getting ready to run their first marathon. You can find that training program here, Novice 1.

  • Did you have a mantra?

If I couldn’t, I wouldn’t, I can, so I will! (I said this to myself a bunch after mile 18)


It was crazy out there, but I am so glad I did it! Super thankful and blessed to have a body that can do things like this. What about you? Am I crazy or will I see you out there at my next race!? Let me know in the comments below!


  1. Very interesting reading. “You could and you did!” Despite the obstacles, you hung in there and reached the finish line. Hmm, I saw life lessons in your account of this experience. Great job!

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