Results from a recent poll:
This really gives me a lot of hope--it's encouraging to see that most runners are not entirely pleased with their first several marathon distance races. My first 2 marathons have left me fairly frustrated...especially this last one.
Just about everyone anticipates that the first one will be tough and have no real prediction of how things will end. Unlike every other race distance, the marathon is where most competitors have not run at least the race distance in training. Most runners top-out at 20-22 miles, so that last 4-6 are shrouded in mystery.
My training for #1 was hampered by knee issues for at least the first half of training, so my miles were decreased. Training for #2 went relatively well and I really didn't expect the same cramping issues the second time around--surprise! Even though my finish time for #2 was a bit improved over my first race, I had fully anticipated finishing with a 20+ minute PR, not a 3 minute one. So in many ways I was more upset with my performance in marathon #2.
In training for #3 I am applying lessons learned from both of my previous marathons in the hopes that I will eventually finish a race feeling like I ran as well as I possibly could and was not slowed by cramping or other mid-race "injuries." This time around I am working on the electrolytes as well as speed work, so that race pace does not come as a complete shock to my legs on race day.