Number of marathons: 2 going on 3
Number of 18-mile runs: 2, including the one I did yesterday.
Long story short, I didn't know crap about marathon training for my first marathon. I thought it was enough that I was working doubles at Olive Garden, racing around like a headless chicken trying to keep up with never-ending soup, salad and breadsticks. My longest run pre-marathon was 14 miles, about 3 weeks out. I finished the race in 3:59:59. I was actually doing pretty well up until mile 20, when everything completely fell apart, and my limbs about fell off. My body was rejecting all attempts to refuel or rehydrate with gut-wrenching cramps. My hips felt like they had become bolted in place and would no long swing. I got out lucky with my barely-sub-4.
The second marathon went better. I had successfully completed an 18-mile run, but bonked on the 20, only doing about 16. I did track workouts every week and hill repeats every other. I cross-trained to keep my IT bands in check. I went to yoga and spin every week, biked to work, and got a few deep-tissue massages. The result was a much better marathon, my only complaint being that I, once again, was experiencing major tummy issues. Gu's still hit my stomach lining like a bag of nails so I had to wog (walk/jog) a few miles until everything sorted itself out. I crossed the line in 3:39:00.
For marathon #3, I feel like I'm somewhere between the 1st and the 2nd when it comes to preparation. I'm doing the miles, but without a gym membership my only cross-training is yoga in the living room and serving. I did speed work for the first few weeks of a running regimen until I started working again and my only option to run was with the jogging stroller most days of the week. Yet somehow, I feel stronger than ever.
Maybe it was labor, or marching up and down hills every day, several times a day with a 25-lb baby on my back and a 60-lb dog leashed to each arm, or simply the fact that after a long day or a hard run I can't just collapse because I still have a child (and husband) to tend too, but somehow, I am stronger, and maybe faster, than before.
I ran 18 in 2:34 - about 13 on a treadmill during monsoon-like conditions, and the other 5 outside during a break in the deluge (once the Falcons/Saints game got to half-time, that is). I felt good. Like crazy good. When I got outside I was practically laughing out loud to myself that it was insane how good I felt, and that surely something was wrong with me. I only listened to my ipod (a bit of a crutch for longer runs) for the last 2 miles and finished fast.
I've heard from a lot of moms that they feel like they are better runners post-baby(ies) than before. I wonder what, exactly, causes this change. Is it because we're forced into a new roll in addition to all the others we play? Is it because our days off are still days on? Is it because labor and delivery elevates us to a whole new level of endurance and pain tolerance?
Who knows? All I do know, is that I'm doing 20 next week, and I am not going to bonk.