Wednesday, January 10, 2007

So, you're running your 1st marathon...

Today, I headed to the park for an easy loop. All the aches and pains that have bothered me for the past couple of weeks were there and it was not a pleasant experience. That's all I have to say about that. Moving on....

Okay, so I am no elite athlete or running guru, but if this is your 1st time running a marathon, I have been in your shoes! I remember my 1st marathon day vividly. While it was definitely difficult, I can say with certainty that it changed my life forever. If I have a chance, I'll tell you more about the experience later this week. For now, here are a few things that I've learned along the way...

  1. Try not to obsess about the marathon, but realize it's perfectly normal if you do. I do this for every marathon, not just for my first. You will read and re-read every inspirational e-mail and every list of tips and advice. You will have all these tips memorized and will be able to recite them all as you run on Sunday. :-) Before Chicago, I watched this over and over again, too.
  2. Try hard not to freak out. I know the marathon is probably consuming your thoughts right now, so that's easier said than done. But try to throw yourself into your work if you can, because the last thing you need to do is worry.
  3. Think about what you want to wear on race day now. Be sure to think about what you would wear if it's colder/warmer than expected. You will probably change your mind 2-3 times between now & then, only to revert back to your original plan.
  4. Check out this support map at the Katy Fit website. It's awesome! My hubby has used it every year to figure out where he's going to meet me and how to get there.
  5. It's your 1st marathon! Gather all your friends and family and tell them where to meet you on the route. Chances are, you've run a 21 miler and know where you could have used an extra boost. There areas where I needed a pep talk were - between mile 18 & 19 in Tanglewood, miles 22 on Memorial and anywhere on Allen Parkway.
  6. Print out a pace band here. No, print out two - one with your "ideal" finish time and one with your "not so ideal" finish time. With the world of Garmins we live in, you probably have a Garmin and don't need to wear the band. However, if you are math challenged like me, you can use these to estimate where you will be at each mile and write it on the above mentioned map. Then, give the maps to your support crew. They will thank you for not making them wait for hours to see you jog by.
  7. On Saturday, plan to pick up your race packet early before all the crowds hit. Then, do something you find relaxing. I like to catch a movie. It helps take my mind off the race...for a couple of hours at least.
  8. It's race morning. At the GRB, you will see people you don't know doing stretches you've never seen before. Don't attempt to try them out now...stick to what you've been doing all along.
  9. Also at the GRB, you will probably have to pee right before it's time to start the race...even if you just went 2 minutes ago. The port-a-cans outside the GRB usually have shorter lines than those inside.
  10. You're going to see some crazy stuff along the way - men peeing on the side of the road after the turn between mile 2 & 3, ladies in the heights jumping up and down with cowbells, a priest sprinkling holy water on Main (get some, it can't hurt), Elvis & Marilyn Monroe near the Galleria at mile 16, Belly Dancers around 610 & Memorial, Cheeseheads on Allen Parkway....don't be too focused the race and your pace - enjoy it and laugh a little!
  11. Along with the crazy stuff you see, people you don't know will offer you some crazy food. Obviously, some of these folks are not runners. I've been offered everything from candy & cookies to bananas & oranges to tuna sandwiches & donuts.
  12. Let's face it, you're running 26.2 miles...there will be times when you are hurting. You will question your sanity. You will swear you will never run another *&+@#$ marathon! You WILL want to cuss out the next person who says "Lookin' Good!" or "You're almost there" (at mile 8)! Try to remember these folks don't have to be out there at all - thank them kindly, smile or wave...then cuss them out in your head or under your breath.
  13. Along the same lines, I probably don't have to tell you this, but be sure to say hello and thanks to the policemen and volunteers out there too.
  14. When you're feeling tired, find a little kid in the crowd at give him/her a high five. Miraculously, you feel better and it gives you a boost of energy you didn't have before.
  15. Allen Parkway will seem like it's a million miles long. You've run this path before hundreds of times, so keep reminding yourself that you will eventually get there....really, you will!
  16. When you get downtown, just take it one block at a are there - the home stretch. At this point you don't want to take another step, but you know you can. The roaring crowds are right around the corner. When you finally see them, you will think they are a beautiful mirage. I assure you they are REAL.
  17. The closer you get to the finish, the faster you will want to run. You are probably not running that fast and your finish photo will be proof of that, but hey it feels like you are. :-)
  18. When you cross the finish line, you may feel like laughing or you may feel like crying. Hell, you may feel like doing both at the same time. Go with's normal. Savor the have just become A MARATHONER!
  19. When you are done, you will not want to take your medal off....DON'T! You've earned it, you have bragging rights. Only take it off when you shower. Yes, you can even sleep with it on if you want to.
  20. Set your VCR/DVR/TiVo to record the special KTRK Houston Marathon special. It airs at 10:30 pm, after the most likely will not be awake. It's fun to watch.


Anonymous said...

WOW! WOW! WOW!! Awesome tips!! I am going to save those for the day I get to run a marathon!! Thanks for typing them out!

Anonymous said...

Hey TX Runner :-) Nice Post Thanks for sharing,

I am training for my first Marathon and Beyond... I hired a Coach( Lisa Smith Batchen) to keep me on track and focused.

Actually I hired the Coach to get in the best shape I can and also train for Marathon's and Ultra Runs too... I am really excited to see how I will respond both physically and Mentally ...

Read so many good race reports of people running Marathons, 50 & 100 milers, building up my mental library as i do the the physical side...

Also going to Running Camp in Death Valley in May hosted by Lisa and Marshall Ulrich...ya I am getting into this big time, been a blast so far :-)

Great Blog and I will be back !


Anonymous said...

Best tip is #11. It is sooo true.

The spectators are awesome, but somewhere around mile 20 they seem to lose their luster. If you had the energy you would cuss them out, but luckily you usually don't.

Great Post.

bunnygirl said...

For me, downtown hits me with a "so near and yet so far" feeling. Very discouraging. The game is entirely mental by that point.

I just hope the weather reports are wrong about the rain...

Barbara said...

I remember last year when I did the half, I had 2 miles to go (but didn't see the mile marker so I didn't know). Some guy yells out - just one more mile!

That very nearly unhinged me as I realized the longer I went along, I most definitely was not "just" a mile away.

That downtown part at the end is so mental at that point. You see tall buildings and think you're done. But you're not quite there yet. I will overcome those buildings this year!

Day Dreamer said...

Wonderfully written. That is a great, great list. There's times I can remember about my first (and so far, only) marathon, and you hit the nail on the head with this.

Keep your head up about that last run. You're going to do great.

Vic said...

Thanks for saving this till this week but this rivals even Jamoosh's and Edwin's tip lists.

Oh, and thanks for the support route link and the pace band link. I'm gonna go check them out right now.

The hardest thing to follow right now is tip #1, the "don't freak out" one. But I'm enjoying freaking out. Work schmork. I sure don't wanna consume myself with work. I want to fell all the anxiety and emotions of the week. I'm trying to put them down some place and use them to my advantage. I know what you're talking about though. I'm sure some people are freaking out in a real way. But I think mine is a healthy kind of freaking out. :o) Make sense?

TX Runner Girl said...

I haven't seen Edwin's list...I'll have to go check it out. Yes, I think you are freaking out in a healthy way Vic. :-)

TX Runner Girl said...

Okay, I'm a dork..I did read Edwin's tips. It's just been awhile and I forgot. Both he and Jamoosh have some great tips!