Well what a weird weekend - after three months of working towards a goal it seemed a little strange not to have to head out for three plus hours pounding the pavements. Instead I downloaded four great movies and barely moved off the couch. Bliss. Time for some R&R before I decide what is next on the race agenda.
However, whilst lounging on the couch, I have been reflecting on the lessons I learnt during the marathon build up that I will take forward for future events and thought I would jot them down for reference - I hope one of them (or all of them) might be helpful to you to!
The first lesson was the most significant for me psychologically - for this build up I didn't have a set routine that I stuck to the night before a long run, or a set meal that I ate the night before a long run, or a breakfast that I ate on the morning of a long run, or a particular electrolyte drink that I drank along the way. For me this was hugely beneficial as if one of those routines didn't eventuate leading up to race day then I would second guess every ache or pain during the event and put it down to my routine being broken. The longer the race the more important it is that I don't panic if things go wrong. So I continuously changed things along the way and built confidence knowing that whatever I ate or drank it would work for me. I told myself that I had a cast iron stomach - and thats exactly how I felt on the day.
The second lesson was that when I found myself injured I still exercised for the same amount of time that I was scheduled to run for. So if I had a 3 hour run scheduled then I walked for 3 hours instead or for the shorter run times I would aqua jog. This really didn't impact on my race day at all - I still ran the best pace that I had planned given the heat and humidity experienced here in Singapore (although to be fair I did do the shorter event). Thinking about this lesson led me to the next lesson...
Lesson Number Three - I felt very comfortable turning up to the half marathon event given I had covered 23-24 km distances on three previous occasions in the weeks leading up to the event. I knew without doubt that I would have no trouble completing the 21 km distance. If I decide to take part in future marathons then I will consider 50km training events so that psychologically I feel as comfortable as I did turning up to the half marathon. It is very liberating to feel so confident to the point that I was really excited about the day and enjoyed every minute of the run. It was over before I knew it.
The last lesson comes from having for the first time (after many many years of completing running or more recently triathlon races) had an absolute blast in a half marathon. Usually I am so stressed out thinking of the time that I want to run the race in - hoping I will run faster than the last race, wondering if I will be able to do it - and from all this anxiety/stress I burn up so much energy that there is nothing left for the run. I want to change that and train well, be confident, relax and savour each moment.
So those are the lessons I learnt.
I am now looking forward to heading home to Auckland for Christmas - its been a long year living so far from home - but I am very lucky to have an opportunity to live here in Singapore and experience living and working in another country. However, trust me when I say, there is absolutely no place like home. 11 sleeps to go and then I get to see my gorgeous girl who I haven't seen for 15 weeks (I will never leave it that long again) and my extended family and friends - these are the most important gifts in life and for which I am truly grateful.