When I did my first real race (Rock ‘n Roll Arizona in 2009 – my first post EVER!) I had no clue what to expect or what to do. One of my favorite memories is that I wanted to carry gels, and thought it would be a good idea to safety pin them all over my Team in Training singlet. I don’t recommend that strategy, but it’s kind of cute to look back on (for more stuff that I expected that was not reality whatsoever, go read my article over at RunHaven). I also did not have/wear a Garmin and had no clue about time. Kind of nice, really.
And those are just the ones in the front
Below are a few things that I wish I had known going into my first longer distance race.
1. Don’t get stressed because you haven’t peed for the 8th time before the gun goes off.
2. Take off your hat when the National Anthem is played.
3. Fall apart multiple times during the race and then pull your shit together (self talk, mantras help with this).
4. Set up a meeting place with your family/friends way ahead of time. The last thing you want to be doing is walking around on tired legs looking for them for 2 hours.
5. Cut down on high fat, high fiber foot in the couple days before the race. This will guard against crapping your pants – my specialty.
6. Check out the race course making notes of where the hills, aid stations, etc. are. Surprises are great for birthday parties and engagements, but not so fun at races.
7. Thank the volunteers.
8. Have a strategy/goal. Even if it is simply to finish. A, B,C goals are good too (A goal = dream time. B goal = realistic time you’d be happy with. C goal = to finish).
9. Don’t pin your gels to your body. Use pockets, your sport’s bra, a SpiBelt whatever. Pinning is inefficient and hurts you when you stab yourself in the nipple.
10. Bring throw-away warm up clothes for the start. For my first marathon in Phoenix it was under 40 degrees and I stood at the start freezing my ass off for at least 1.5 hours. I could have spent $5 at Goodwill and avoided that altogether.
You can actually find some steals. Check out this sweet outfit
I wore before the Colorado Marathon. Almost couldn’t part with it.
12. Pay attention to chafing areas during training and lube the hell out of those parts. Balls and boobs included.
13. Don’t over-accessorize. Carry only what you need and use stuff at the aid stations (which means do your research and train with it too). And, you don’t need to wear a crap load of makeup. This is race not a red carpet.
14. Read the signs because you will laugh and forget about your pain for a second.
15. Trust your training. Don’t get all freaked out the night before. There’s there’s nothing you can do about it anyway. However, if you haven’t put in your training time you are screwed and I hope you learned your lesson.
16. Even in a hurry, lock the porta potty door. I failed to do this once at the Boston Marathon and gave someone quite a peep show. He was pretty turned on, I think.
17. Everyone will tell you to smile and have fun. At some points this is nearly impossible. You will be in a bad mood, tired, sweaty, stinky and ready to be done. So, if for a bit you DON’T have fun and DON’T smile, so be it.
18. Don’t look at your watch when crossing the finish line or your race photos will suck. Look up, smile and relish in your accomplishment
19. Then put a freaking sticker on your car.
Any other tips for before or during your first full or half marathon?
What’s a “newbie” thing you did during your first race?