It's been a week since my first ever marathon (Denver Rock N Roll) and I've had some time to reflect on my experience. In short, I made a TON of mistakes, including starting off too fast and not hydrating often enough. It was a huge learning experience, and as crazy as it sounds, I'm actually considering doing another!
I wrote a more detailed recap of my race on my blog if anyone is interested. If you've faced a similar situation, I'd like to hear your tips - thanks!
If you look around you will find that there are a bunch of us that have bad days, although despite your challenges you came very close to meeting your stretch goal of a sub-4 marathon, so actually congratulations are in order! Yeah, you may have cranked out too fast, but I'll bet that you won't do that again! I'm also empathetic because I ran the Marine Corps Marathon this weekend and that didn't go as planned for me either. I started cramping at mile 14 and dealt with it for the rest of the course. I was in so much pain that I had to take myself to the Med tent after finishing just so that I could make it home.
My thought is that it is experiences like this that make running a marathon special - the ability to deal with unpredictable situations, to persevere under difficult circumstances, and to put mind over matter. No matter how well I prepare and plan for my next marathon I'm pretty sure that something different will happen to challenge me. Best of luck on your next one! - stay strong!