I just ran my first marathon last weekend! That’s right, the 42k, the 26.2, the whole shabang.
How was it?
Exciting, terrifying, exhausting, rewarding and thrilling.
…kinda like making through the end of a horror film.
Overall, it went better than I expected. My goal was to not walk (start low reach high right?) so I was just happy to finish the race without walking. The first 75% went great. I was cruising up until mile 18 and then things got rough. Real rough. The sun came out, the route turned solo, there was hardly any other spectators or runners around, and my stomach started hurting from all the GU energy packet things that I had consumed over the last few hours..Oooof. I fully regret choosing flavors such as espresso, peanut butter, chocolate and peanut butter (twice, really?), and vanilla.
I puked at the finish line. Not my proudest moment. But c’mon,…props for making it til the end right?
I ran the Tamarindo Beach Marathon which I really enjoyed. It was a great beginner race since the route was mostly flat and at sea level. The entire race was well organized and we got tons of swag! Two training shirts, a pair of flip flops, a free spaghetti dinner (counts as swag yeah?), a reusable bag, and medals made for champions.
And, the race started at 4:30am with a fireworks show (to make sure EVERYONE in Tamarindo was awake for the start, including those comfortably sleeping in their own homes) and a mildly hazardous fog machine at the starting line.
Tamarindo, which is in Guanacaste Province in the puro norte of Costa Rica, is a super hot and dry region. It’s practically the complete opposite climate (and opposite side of the country) of where I live. It’s known for it’s beautiful beaches, American-like downtown-smosphere, expensive shops and food, and abundant English.
I signed up for the marathon with 2 other volunteers in my group at the end of May. That gave us about 4 months to train in our respective sites in Costa Rica. For me, it was a perfect amount of time. In fact, I wouldn’t want to spend any longer training for a race. I’m so sick of running and so are my knees. The weeks leading up to the race were pretty grueling too. Ugh, I just wanted to get it done with.
I have to say the best part was the carb-loading days…I would do another marathon just for those last few blissful days before the race where I ate 2,500 calories of pure carbohydrates while doing absolutely zero physical activity. Gah it was like I was 13 again.
I trained in my site where it’s hilly, rocky, high-altitude, and rainy. I was always going up or downhill and for some reason it always felt like uphill. The most I ever ran at my site was 18 miles and that took me about 3.5 hours to complete in the hot hot heat. Those runs were the worst and since my miles here took longer than usual, and destroyed my knees more than usual, I was only trying to average about 30 miles/week.
Just so you have an idea of what the roads look like where I live ^^
But, I can definitely say that the hills and high-altitude training helped during race day. So if you’re ever trying to train for a marathon in the mountains of Central America don’t shy away, just do yo thang.
As you imagine, they don’t sell GU or electrolyte-filled energy supplements in the campo of Costa Rica. So when I got to the point where I had to start bringing calories with me on my longer runs I would take a water bottle filled with water, oatmeal and sugar. Sounds delicious right?
It’s actually not that bad. And it’s a good recovery drink. Just try it. Make sure you use fine grain/blended oatmeal, or as they call it in Costa Rica, avena mosh or avena en hojuelas. I used white sugar but I’m sure coconut palm sugar, molasses, organic honey, brown rice syrup, agave nectar, maple syrup, or date sugar would all work just fine. Gah. miss Whole Foods and Trader Joes.
If you’re ever in a pinch, broke, a Peace Corps Volunteer or don’t have energy supplements available it’s a good option. I mean that’s all that stuff is anyway right? Carbs and sugar.
Awhhhh yeah. I’m one of those people who can’t run or workout without music so I made sure to thoughtfully craft my marathon playlist with new upbeat songs to get me through the entire race. I’m sharing my Marathon Playlist cause it can be a pain to put together a 4-5 hour playlist if you don’t have 6-hour+ bus rides in your life. YOU’RE WELCOME.
Well that’s it for my first and probably last full marathon. If you ever have questions about training for marathons in odd places (physically and/or emotionally) feel free to reach out.