The 32K was meant to be the prelude to my first-ever marathon run. It represented my farthest run. I don’t think I could’ve run for more than 3 hours by myself. And, as mentioned at the Run United site, the 32-kilometer mark is the point where marathon runners encounter the dreaded “wall.”
My 32K didn’t go as planned. There were a couple of things I got right—I wasn’t intimidated by runners who were overtaking me, I was taking advantage of the hydration stations and consuming energy gels at regular intervals. My average pace in a half-marathon was 6.5 minutes per kilometer. I figured I could run a 7-minute pace. I guess I over-estimated myself. I was able to average a 7-minute pace for at about the 25-kilometer mark, but then I crashed at the last two kilometers. It wasn’t my stamina that gave in; my legs weighed me down. There was no juice in them.
Maybe it was because I lacked sufficient training? I checked my training log. My last long run, a 2-hour slow run that covered just 16.75 kilometers, was on October 30. But after that I just had 4 short runs. I don’t know if that was enough mileage, but I think I have to begin logging in some serious distance running!
Here are the other things I learned in the 32K and should note in preparing for the 42K:
- My other mistake was the same mistake I made when I started off on a distance that I have never run before. I would start out strong, brimming with confidence and filled with motivation, only to crash and burn at the final kilometers. This happened to me when I first ran a 10K. It happened to me in my initial foray at the 21K. I should realize that 32K (and my upcoming 42K) is a long, long, LONG run. I have to pace myself and maybe steel myself for the final 5K. The goal should be to finish; a decent time should be secondary. Note to self: run at a pace where I can finish, not a pace where time is important.
- I should bring enough water. In the 21K runs, I would only bring one 500ml bottle of water, and more often than not I wouldn’t open it during the run. It would serve as my post-race thirst-quencher. However, in the 32K, the hydration stations ran out of water. I guess it was because I was towards the bottom-half—or maybe even the bottom-third—of the pack. So I relied on my sole 500ml water supply. It was enough to get me through the finish line, but if this was a marathon, I may have ended up parched and dried-mouth. Note to self: don’t rely on hydration stations as their supplies may run out; bring three bottles of water.
- I really didn’t pay attention to the risk of chafing. But somewhere during the 32K, my armpits became sore. It was rubbing against the seam of my singlet. And when I took a shower, raw blistering pain shot out of my inner thighs. Note to self: check the singlet for raised seams, and remember to use Vaseline or a similar lotion.
- I need to respect the “wall.” When I ran the 21K, most of my efforts were aimed towards avoiding the wall. I guess it will be inevitable in a marathon. I guess the trick will be to postpone that event as late as possible. If I hit the wall in the 32-kilometer mark, that means I will have to struggle for more than an hour. Breaking the wall is part physical but it is also part mental. I need to build mental fortitude. In the last 5K I was focusing on my body, on the pain I felt in my hips, calves, and shins, impatiently counting down the kilometers. Maybe this technique heightened my sense of fatigue? Note to self: I need more dissociative techniques—maybe imagining myself in a beach or in a hot tub.
One thing I need to do: between today and February (my scheduled marathon run), I have run another run that is longer than a 21K. Maybe a 25K or a 32K in January. I’ve been checking the running sites for run schedules but couldn’t find such a race. If there are no such races, then I have to do such a run by myself.