This weekend is the 6th anniversary of my very first marathon! Back in 2008, I lined up with thousands of other runners and tackled the Disney Marathon course. It was both amazing and awful, all at the same time. I swore off marathons around mile 21, and then couldn’t stop thinking about which one I wanted to sign up for next as soon as I finished. Here are a few things I wish I would have known going into my very first marathon.
Your Time Doesn’t Matter
Finishing your very first marathon is an accomplishment in itself. Setting a time goal and hoping you will reach it, without really knowing what to expect, isn’t the best idea. There are so many unknowns in this long of a race, and putting the pressure on yourself to achieve such a specific time just isn’t a good idea. Go after the goal you set to finish the race, and experience everything that comes along with it throughout the race.
Long Runs DO Matter
Boy oh boy – this seems like a dumb one, especially coming from me. I put such a big emphasis on long runs to each and every client I coach. What my clients don’t know is that I harp on the long run solely from experience of disrespecting it for my first marathon. I followed Hal Higdon’s plan for Disney 2008, and ended up doing my longest (and last) long run the weekend before Thanksgiving. I need to mention, the plan does not recommend this – I just skipped all of the long runs following that. Needless to say, that is crazy far out from the race, and nowhere near a long enough distance to run before a marathon.
On Course Support is Huge
I had no idea how mental the marathon would be. One of the parts I look forward to most when I run a race is knowing when I will see the people who came to support me. Even if it’s just here and there, I am always uplifted when I see Marcus telling me I look strong or my sister holding up an inspiring sign. Getting family and friends to see you a few times on course is so important!
You Are Going to Get Tired Towards the End
Yea, your legs feels so great in the first half of the race. That doesn’t mean you should pick it up early. I remember passing the halfway point and thinking, “Wow! This is way easier than most people say it is!”. Wow – I wrong. The last 6 or so miles hurt so bad. I didn’t want to run another step. I’m sure it also didn’t help that I was severely undertrained. Too many things added up to a very rough race!
It Is Worth Every Step
Regardless of how tough the race is when you are running it, once you cross the finish line, it all becomes worth it. The high you get from the accomplishment is unlike any other, and lasts for days post race. Reflect on the training you completed and the race you just finished – it truly is amazing!
What do you wish you knew going into your first marathon or road race?