A lesson from the Bend Marathon: prepare, prepare, prepare

by Kim on October 12, 2011 · 21 comments

I skipped the Boston Marathon and the New York City Marathon this year in order to save money for our trip around the world. As consolation, I signed up for a race closer to home: the first annual Bend Marathon in central Oregon.

Bend is a magical place for me.  It’s an adorable, outdoorsy, mountain town.  Escaping Portland’s hipster scene for Bend’s climbing-hiking-bluegrass scene makes me undeniably happy.  Brian and I got married in Bend, and when we’re there we walk around dreaming up ways to move there some day (seriously, how do people make money in that city?).

Anyway, showing up in Bend always transports me directly into vacation mode.  That’s fine, most of the time, except when I’ve come to run a marathon.  If you’re a runner you know that running is as mental as it is physical.  Here’s a marathon tip: Drinking two beers and eating tater tots the night before the race is not the best way to mentally (or physically) prepare for it.

But even my pre-race preparations could have been overlooked if I had, indeed, trained for the race in the first place.  But this was my fifth marathon and I’d grown a little cocky.  This time around my marathon training consisted of eating nachos, drinking margaritas, sitting at happy hour and saying things like: I’m running a marathon next month, I should really start training. Oh, excuse me, I’ll take another IPA please!, and all but growing right out of my jeans.  It’s hard work, training for a marathon.

Marathon training in June, with my sister

Here’s another marathon tip: It’s a good idea to be familiar with the course before you show up at the starting line.  I’d prudently noted where the starting line was but had neglected to pay much attention to anything that came after that.

Unfortunately I didn’t see this article until after the race

What came after that was a brutal 26.2 miles at elevation and a hill for the last seven miles.  To top it off the marathon was really small.  There were only about 100 runners and a mere 75 actually finished.  That meant no crowds of cheering supporters, no bands, no cowbells (more cowbell!), no people watching opportunities.  It was just open road and hill after hill after f*@#ing hill.

 The lonely, open road

Luckily I was running with friends.  Without them I might have quit.  It was that bad.

 Running with friends.  Hey!  Recognize those shorts?  

Anyway, I did finish the race, but I was not feeling good afterwards.  I’d started feeling pretty bad at mile 15, and by the time I crossed the finish line I was done.  

But we had strategically booked a room at an awesome little hotel with an open-air Turkish soaking pool, and I’ve never quite learned the definition of moderation.  So instead of listening to my body which said rest, for the love of god, rest!, I instead drank a beer, turned down food, changed into a bathing suit and headed out for a little 102 degree soak in the pool.

And that was nice, until it wasn’t.  By the time I realized I was in real trouble it was already too late.  I got out of the pool, took a few steps, then leaned against the wall and fainted.  In my bathing suit.    

I eventually recovered after a few hours of rest, hydration and food, but I’m sure I scared the shit out of my friends and Brian who witnessed the whole episode.  And overall the experience just kicked my butt.  I got sick later in the week and continued to feel crappy.  Even after I physically rebounded my ego just felt defeated.  

I told Brian that I was working on a blog post about the Bend Marathon but that I couldn’t quite nail down my point.  There was a lesson in it all, but I couldn’t articulate it.  

He thought about it for a second and said: The point is to not take what you’re able to do for granted, to respect it.  To remember that no matter how many times you’ve done something, if you want to do your best, you always need to work at it.  

And so it is.  

 The runners and proof of our survival

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Lily October 12, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Hi Kim,

Congratulations on finishing another marathon! Hope you feel better soon. You’re a trooper. If you can complete a marathon, world travel will be a piece of cake for you I’m sure ;)

– Lily

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Kim October 12, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Hi Lily,

That is nice to hear and I sure hope you’re right.

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Tricia(Geeky Explorers) October 12, 2011 at 4:53 pm

The fact that you FINISHED not one marathon but FIVE is awesome, even if your training diet was a tad more…tasty this time around. My first 5k is this Saturday and I can barely wrap my head around that, much less looking at the snapshot of 7 miles of incline – at the end of the race! And that Brian sounds very, very wise.

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Kim October 12, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Tricia,

Good luck!!! No matter how long your race is there is no better feeling than crossing that finish line. It’s why I continue to pay out TOO MUCH money to run in races. Good luck, and enjoy the glory when you’re done.

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Gillian @OneGiantStep October 12, 2011 at 5:28 pm

See…that’s why I love you…because that’s EXACTLY how I would train for a marathon! PS…I think I have a crush on your husband – he’s pretty amazing eh?

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Kim October 12, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Hehe. I wish we could train together!!

You know, I might just have a crush on Jason… he fixed all of my blog problems and speaks calmly while I freak out! We are both lucky :)

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Tracy October 12, 2011 at 6:06 pm

I’m glad you survived the marathon! A few notes on this blog post:
1. Brian is smart, keep him around
2. Including a link to more cow bell is always a good idea, not matter what the post is about

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Kim October 12, 2011 at 7:22 pm

I should have named this blog “More Cowbell!” So Many Places just isn’t as fun.

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Sara October 12, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Timely advice as I have just begun training for my 4th half marathon. I’ll try to stick to more miles than pints :)

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Kim October 12, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Yes, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that is the way to do it.

Are you running the holiday half?? Because I am too!

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Torre – Fearful Adventurer October 12, 2011 at 7:30 pm

And so it is. Or, as I like to say: so is it.

Brian is so wise.

Glad you’re okay! (Did you faint with your legs splayed, or did you have a flicker or good sense to pull your legs in to a lady-like fold before you flopped?)

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Kim October 12, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Torre, you had to ask, didn’t you? Let’s just say I didn’t faint like a lady, I fell like a brick wall. Let’s also just say that my bikini line wasn’t in tip-top shape. Very embarrassing, for many reasons.

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Carmel October 12, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Oh Kim…you make me laugh and crazy all at the same time. You know why? Because you and I are SO. MUCH. ALIKE. It’s ridiculous. I do stuff like this all the time and do I learn from it? Um…a little bit, but not enough. Just be happy that you finished, you have some awesome friends, and an amazing husband. We are definitely blessed to have these down-to-earth men in our lives to balance out our little bit’o’crazy. I love it, though. There’s probably a lesson of learning to let it go, realize that’s just who you are and love yourself anyway.

Congrats on finishing! That course looks BRUTAL.

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Kim October 12, 2011 at 7:41 pm

That course was so brutal.

Hehe. I have been called crazy more than once in my lifetime, that’s for sure. I couldn’t imagine if Brian was crazy too, I don’t know what I’d do. I’m glad he can keep his feet on the ground and pull me back in when I go running around like a nutcase. But I like us, Carmel. We keep life interesting ;)

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Miel October 13, 2011 at 10:54 am

This is a good lesson going into world globe trotting! From my experience, having traveled to 69 countries, it is very easy to become a confident (i.e. cocky) traveler.

Once you have that been there, done that attitude is just when trouble strikes. Modesty goes a long ways in traveling.

Another good lesson here is that you can get through anything with someone by your side. You are very lucky to have Brian to climb the hills of travel together with.

Cheers,

Miel

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Kim October 13, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Hi Miel,

I can absolutely see how this lesson can relate to travel. Hopefully I will remember it (I think I will, as fainting was a scary experience!).

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Deborah October 13, 2011 at 11:04 am

Confession: I fainted after my last HALF marathon. And not after a soak in a hot tub, but over the best pancakes available in NYC. Why? Because I had not TRAINED properly. I walk 5 or 6 miles a day and I thought 13 miles? I could do that in my sleep. I don’t need no stinkin’ training!! Ummmm . . . yeah. I REALLY do!!

Comment: Brian’s succinct summation is flawless stated!! You should marry that man!! (Oh . . . wait. You already did that. Okay . . . well, then, for the love of God KEEP him!!) xoxo

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Kim October 13, 2011 at 7:28 pm

You did!??!! I’m sorry it happened but your story makes me feel a little better :) Did you still get to eat the pancakes? (P.S. At least you weren’t in a bathing suit!)

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Lisa October 20, 2011 at 7:04 am

Great Honesty! You make me smile. I just signed up this week for my first 26.2 and I’m scared to death. It is not until June (Seattle Rock N Roll) so I have plenty of time but the largest race I’ve ever done was a 10K several years ago. My running average is once a month. Ouch! I’ve kicked it up this week. This has been on my bucket list for the last 17 years-four kids later its still there. Time to get ‘er done! Thanks for the inspiration and reminder to not be lazy about my approach.
First time to your site (thanks to Almost Fearless) and I love it!
Cheers!

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Kim October 20, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Lisa, thank you!!! So much good luck to you on your first 26.2. There is still no better feeling than crossing the line of your first marathon. It is going to be tough but it will be worth it. I signed up for my first 26.2 after running a 5 mile race, so you can do it! I love signing up for races because then I force myself to train… well, most of the time :) You’ll do great.

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