You can't see it.
You can't touch it.
You might not even see or feel it coming.
When you hit it, it can feel like there is no way around it.
It is a humbling and frustrating experience.
I remember hitting it three years ago in my first half marathon. 6 miles in and I was swearing off half marathons forever. I of course have gone on to do three more that with a smarter strategy and better temperatures revealed no walls. Just easy sailing smooth running love.
When I did my first marathon on July 8th this year it was certainly a thought in my head that somewhere in the next 26.2 miles a wall could exist. I also was feeling a little cocky. I am a smarter runner now than I was three years ago. I am better at fueling, hydrating, and pacing myself. The weather would be on the warm side, but not too hot and not anything I had not trained in for the last month.
I remember thinking at mile 18 how good I was feeling and maybe I wouldn't hit a wall... so when my guts gurgled at mile 19 and I sat down in the porta pottie at almost mile 20 I was shocked at how much my legs decided to shut down and my stomach revolt at the last Roctane I ate. (i don't thin oragne vanilla and I will ever be friends again) Going through the cool sprinklers seemed to sent a chill through my body.
I went from 8:07 - 8:12 minute miles to suddenly a 14 minute mile and two 12 minute miles. My legs were cramping, I was puking, I was hot. I wanted to sit down on the curb and call it a day. More than that I wanted to finish my first marathon. The 3:40 I had been on track for was gone, but I knew if I just kept moving I could still get in under 4 hours. Time seemed to be dragging, standing still, yet my watch seemed to be on hyperspeed. The fastest mile I managed was a 9:30 after that. For me, really slow
I have to admit there were moments that I wasn't sure that was going to happen. Running hurt. At mile 25 I thought to myself.. "Wow I have never run this far before!" I knew at that point I could do it. I would do it. I might feel like I was running into a wall over and over, but I was making progress.
I do want to do another marathon. When? I am not sure yet. I am still dealing with the aftermath of it all. It has taken way longer to recover than I would have guessed. Kind of makes me want to stick to half marathons and shorter races. I have not entered three races now that I would really like to have done since the marathon, my body has not felt ready.
I have done a lot of thinking about the wall since the marathon. Walls box you in. Walls can trap you. Impede your progress. You have to figure out a way to bust through, go around, find a door in the wall, etc. Not always easy when you can't see it.
You have to convince your body there is a way past the wall when your body is wanting to quit. I also believe each wall has a lesson to be learned and if you can figure out that lesson you come out a stronger runner.
I know it won't be the last wall I deal with in a race, but so far definetly the worst and I feel like I am still processing it. Still trying to learn what I need to from it. I'll get there just the same as I will get to the start line of another marathon in time.
I did find this great article on how to beat the wall
What is the worst wall you have encountered in a race?
How do you deal with it?
Any great wall advice?