Keep Calm and Run a Cheesy Marathon

f60ab074-172c-47dd-b960-f645e15f292d“Keep Calm and Run a Cheesy Marathon” was just the line I needed to read going into the Wisconsin Marathon. The week leading up to the event I was fighting with my right hamstring, which I apparently pulled while gardening the Sunday before. Talk about injury prone.

At the starting line I pinned a yellow & blue ribbon on the tights of my right leg for Boston, and for good luck on my bad leg.  I reminded myself that my priority was to walk away from the race healthy enough to resume Ironman training sooner than later, seeing as Ironman is less than 20 weeks away right now. Just finish, and don’t be stupid was my only goal.

My first few miles were filled with discomfort from stomach cramping. I’m certain the reason for my stomach cramping was that I ate dinner a lot later than I normally do the night before a long run. My late dinner resulted in 3 porta potty stops during the race. This is one of the things I need to nail down when traveling for a race, type and timing of nutrition no matter what. My stomach discomfort temporarily faded when I ran into my friend Bert at mile four. I slowed to run with him, which I think was hugely beneficial for me later in the race. Running alongside good company really makes the miles tick by. We chatted for a few miles and parted.


After I split from Bert I had a couple of miles to decide if I was going to turn at the half marathon course turn around, or keep going. My legs still felt fine, it was just my stomach cramping that I was dealing with. So onward to the full 26.2 course I went.

At mile 15, where I always, always bonk, I felt something shift in my hamstring. I slowed to a power walk to be kind to the hamstring. My power walk was a brisk 13 minute mile, thanks to the lunch hour walking that I’ve been doing for the last few weeks. I didn’t feel defeated or pissed off like I would have in past marathons. Instead I was calm, and used that time to think about those affected by the Boston Marathon bombing. My head was in a good place.

 I power walked a full mile, and then ran the next. I repeated this until mile 19, where I switched to a 4:1 ratio (run 4 minutes, walk 1 minute). At mile 20 I noticed that the clouds had cleared away and it turned into an absolutely beautiful day. The weather was perfect. I knew that I was doing the best that I could on that day. Before I knew it, I was on my last 3 miles, I didn’t need the walk breaks anymore. It was the strongest I’ve ever felt during the last few miles of a marathon. (Brag: I even had a 9:20 split at mile 24!!)

UntitledI finished in 4:34:11. It’s not a PR, and that does not bother me one bit. I’m more proud of this finish than I am of my PR race. Having my head in a good place and feeling strong feels way better than chasing a certain finish time.

I finished happy.


18 thoughts on “Keep Calm and Run a Cheesy Marathon

  1. Congrats! Sounds like you ran a smart race and listened to your legs and those are the harder races to run I think! Hope you can get the fueling thing figured out, I HATE that part of running…

  2. “Happy” is the BEST way to finish – hands down! Congratulations 🙂 I’ll keep your happy finish in mind this weekend when I go after my next marathon!!!

  3. Congrats, Steena, on your running and your mindset. I had to pause for a second when I read what you said in bold that you did the best you could on that day. And that’s o.k. No, it’s not, says this competitive voice in my head, the voice that might have pushed me beyond the pace that I promised myself to run in the first half of this race. Mile 15 also came for me, and I had to slow down. But instead of accepting (I accepted a little later), I wasn’t willing to give up my goal–which was unrealistic after having been sick only a few days ago. But, once the sky cleared and the sun came out, I (at that time unconsciously) allowed myself to do the best I could in this race–and that was fine. Next time, share your wisdom earlier, will you?
    Did you like the course at all, the loops and the gravel?

    • Ha, thanks. I’d share earlier, but it was definitely a realization made on the course.
      I did the course last year and knew what to expect with the gravel and loops. It’s not the most exciting course, but I like the event a lot for other reasons.
      The loose gravel is where I did my power walking, I was afraid I’d slip and irritate the hamstring. It’d be nice though if they could reroute it away from the gravel, hopefully with enough suggestions/complaints they will.
      I think a huge difference in mindset between you & I was that I knew I had to come out of the race healthy sooner. If I didn’t have Ironman hanging over my shoulder I would have been more aggressive on the course.
      Playing it safe paid off, this is the quickest recovery I’ve ever had, I already got back on my bike this week!
      Congrats to you too in your race!

  4. Yay! This sounds like such a fun one and you sound like you were able to be laid back about a few things (cramps, hamstrings, etc.) that kept it all breezy 🙂 Are you doing it next year? I kiiiiiinda want to come up and do the 1/2 now! Way to rock it! So excited to hear more about IMWI training! And what it’s like to cross that finish line!

    • Thanks! The day after the race I already wanted to go back next year and do the full again. It’s too soon though to start thinking about next year, let’s make sure I survive Ironman first!
      If you and I both do it, we should consider sharing a hotel room and have shenanigans!

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