I’ve been thinking about the marathon distance lately. I love the recipe for a marathon.
1 part motivation
2 parts discipline
1 dash crazy
1 dollop suffering
5 scoops of heart and soul
Spend 3-5 hours combining all ingredients on race day. At the last minute, i.e., finish line, top off with a gallon of triumph, achievement and emotion.
In the past, thoughts of running 26.2 miles have scared me or even excited me. But these days, the idea of running a marathon makes me tired as shit. I think that’s because my last stand alone marathon (not counting Boulder Ironman) was in L.A. in March (race report HERE).
It was such a mentally and physically tough race for me and I didn’t make my time goal of 3:50, which would have been a BQ (3:55). I came in at 3:58, a full 16 minutes slower than my PR time. I am not going to make excuses, but I am going to make excuses (because we all have a time we think we could have gotten if such and such didn’t happen).
- It was hot. 80 degrees.
- I was wearing new shoes (yeah there was a reason for this, but I suffered)
- It was so crowded I think I made love to 45 people without even knowing it
- My head was in the wrong place. I was excited to be in L.A. I was not excited to run that day.
I don’t have a marathon distance race planned (yet) for this year. I am still dealing with PTSD from LA and from IM Boulder. The thing is, if I had a CARROT – like the coolest place ever to run, I would be all over it (Great Wall! Athens! Antarctica! Big Sur!). These days my races are as much for adventure and experience as they are for time/pace. Even more so.
And yet…I crave the distance. There is nothing like it.
Today when I received an email from a reader getting ready for her first marathon in April (in Manchester, England!), I had this twinge of excitement remembering a few years ago when I did my first 26.2.
As a newbie, I had so many worries and questions. While I still fret before every race, there is nothing like being a marathon virgin. You scream, you bleed, you have remorse < oh wait. That’s a different kind of virgin.
Do you have any tips for a marathon first timer? Do I ever!
- Nothing new on race day – this includes fuel, gear, etc.
- Don’t worry if you don’t sleep the night before. No one does.
- Pace yourself. Start conservatively. At the half, if you can, pick it up.
- Take in the people and the sights. Distract yourself. Remember you are running a freaking marathon. Be proud.
- Be generous with the lube. Chafing will make you cry like a baby.
- Don’t look at your watch when you cross the finish line unless you want your race photo to be of you looking at the ground.
- Walk through aid stations. This is my preference. I don’t carry water and like to use this as a chance to regroup.
What are your mantras when the going gets tough? Mine are simple because I am too tired to get elaborate. “Don’t stop.” “Move forward.” “You can do this.” “Fuck”
Is there ever a moment in your mind where you think "shit, I can't do this!"? Of course, but I never actually entertain the thought of quitting. It’s more like, “Shit this hurts. Shit I can’t wait for this to be over. Shit, how much further?”
How much do you eat before you go on a long run? My preference is to eat a small high carb breakfast before a run. I don’t like having a ton in my stomach when I run, so I eat a pb&j or a banana or a Clif bar or some combination of these things. While running I replace 25 carbs per hour in the form of gels, chews, Honey Stinger waffles, etc.
Help out a reader! Can you answer a few of the above questions^^^^?
Have you run a marathon before? If not, do you plan on it?