Marathon Virgin No Longer

There’s something to be said about your first time.  You’re nervous, excited and scared.  You don’t know what to expect.  What will it feel like?  What if I don’t finish?  How do I keep from going too fast too soon?  Did I prepare enough?  The marathon distance can be very intimidating for a first-timer, but the high you experience when you reach the finish line is unlike any other.  And just like with anything else, it gets better with time and practice 😉 (Or so I hear…)
finisherLooking back at my months of training, I can honestly say that I did not give my training 100%.  There were times when I’d adjust the mileage and skip out on the occasional buildup run-once when I was on our anniversary trip to Michigan and also the weekend of Madelyn’s first birthday.  If I could do it over again, there are some things I’d do differently-both in preparation and on race day.
  1. Follow the marathon plan you’ve chosen.  Bart & Hal know a thing or two about marathon training.  It’s okay to move your long run around (doing it on Sunday instead of Saturday), but if you want to be successful, don’t skimp out on mileage.
  2. Get serious about nutrition.  During marathon training, I was not a carb queen much to my surprise.  I did eat relatively healthy but my breakfast before most of my workouts consisted of coffee, water and a banana.  Post workout would be a protein shake.  No good for those longer runs.  The week before the marathon, I loaded up on the good carbs as best as I could.  Next time I’ll plan out my pre & post run meals/protein & carb ratios out a little better.
  3. Have a hydration plan in place and use it on those long practice runs. Toward the end, I switched over to Endurolyte tablets by Hammer.  I liked them because they were just little electrolyte capsules I could just chug with water or Gatorade and I didn’t have to worry about carrying chews or trying to suck down a gel packet.  I used them a few times on my practice runs and my system worked well.  However, you tend to forget about replenishing your electrolytes when you’re running the streets of Chicago, high on life.  There were a few times when I’d pass by a water stop, chug my water and continue on my way without even giving my electrolytes a second thought.  Do whatever you can to try and remember to get the proper nutrition in during the race.
  4. Don’t forget your sunglasses/visor/hat.  The whole time I trained, I wore either my sunglasses or visor and low and behold, on race day I left both of them in hubs’ car.  Don’t do that.  Squinting is no fun, it causes headaches and wrinkles.  The last thing you want to do is weave in and out of the course to get to the shadier spots.  Which brings me to my next point.
  5. STUDY your race course and hug the corners as best you can.  A few weeks prior to race day, Larry posted this article stating that if runners don’t hug the corners of the courses 36 turns, they could possibly add up to a half mile to their race.26.8miles
  6. Set multiple goals for yourself.  You never know what can happen on race day and if you only set one goal (i.e. a finish time) and you don’t achieve it, it will take away from the awesomeness that was just accomplished.  Look back at your training.  You had good days and not so great days.  The same thing can happen when it comes to marathon time.  Not to mention other things you can’t control.  Like the weather.  Or the sun.  Goal #1 for me was just to finish.  Goal #2 was to finish in under 5 hours.  Goal #2 didn’t happen, but I did achieve my main goal and now, I can take everything I learned and put it into practice when it comes time for marathon numero 2.
  7. Write your name somewhere visible on yourself.  I wish I would’ve done this!! I saw lots of people with iron ons, bright tape & black sharpie (if you don’t want to ruin a shirt), and people who wrote their names on their arm with sharpies.  Strangers will call out your name and cheer you on during the race and it’s really motivating.
  8. ENJOY every single moment!  The marathon was honestly the fastest 5 hours of my life.  There will be times on the course when you’re on top of the world one mile and the next mile, you’re hating life, questioning your sanity and wondering why you thought this was a good idea.  Then you’ll hear Ray Charles singing America the Beautiful as you approach the finish and realize that those few miles of agony were totally and utterly worth it.
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