Alright so it has been almost two weeks since I ran my first full marathon and to say I am still sitting on cloud 9 is an understatement. I am constantly thinking about it still. It was such an amazing experience and weekend and day for me, I seriously do not think I will ever forget it. And when I look on Instagram, I get all of these warm and fuzzy feelings about it again, because so many people I follow and are friends with are gearing up to run their very own full marathon also soon. Such as the NYC Marathon on November 2 and my dear friend, Nanci, running her full on November 30th. I am so excited for all my friends and cant wait to see how their experience was, hoping it is just as fantastic as mine.
I figured, since I am now a Marathoner, I can give some tips that helped me have a wonderful weekend and even better Marathon experience. Now, again, I am not an expert, these are my opinions, based on what I experienced. They might not work for everyone, just some tips and tricks to have a great 26.2.
1. Clear your mind. Go into the weekend or the few days before hand, just plain excited. There is no reason to be nervous, you did all the hard work for months now, training, practicing, putting in the miles. This is the time to just focus on your self and how much fun you want to have.
2. Have fun at the expo. My expo was small, very small. But we had a blast. We took pictures, shopped at the little tents and I bought all the 26.2 items I wanted to get. Take advantage of any deals they might be having. If for instance there is a change in climate, this is the time to maybe pick up something to help you in the marathon. Such as a long sleeved shirt or gloves. I picked up a hat, but opted to use it a later time, since I didn't train with it. This is also a great time to get any of your fueling options, such as GU or Shot Blocks, in case you forgot them or packed to light. REMEMBER, do not buy anything you haven't trained with. 26.2 is a lot of miles to try and use something new you are unsure of.
3. Carb load all day and HYDRATE. I made sure I had bottles of water every where I went. I didn't care if we had to pull over a million times. I also made sure I was eating every couple of hours and had a big breakfast, lunch and made sure my dinner was what I always ate before my long runs. For me that was bread, salad and spaghetti with sauce. I didn't try anything new or different and it worked out perfect. I started carb loading a couple of days before because since I was traveling, I was out of my element a bit, but adjust to your surroundings. Don't give in to temptation if you are not used to it. Carb loading doesn't mean go crazy with food, you don't want to make your self uncomfortable, you want FUEL your body.
4. Do Not consume alcohol for days before. Unless you are used to that and your stomach can handle it. Believe me, I wanted a pumpkin beer or a glass of wine with dinner so much, I was around family and friends and celebration was so needed, but I knew it would dehydrate me, so I opted out. That's what the after party is for anyway :0)
5. REST!!!! This one was hard for me, because my mind and body were going a million miles a minute, but even if I wasn't sleeping, at least I was laying down and that is all that mattered to me. I just let my body unwind. Take a bath, read a book, have a cup of tea or watch a movie in bed. I did all of those things, and I can say it really made me feel great. Especially the night before, I turned off my phone and all social media for the hour before bed, I just took a nice bath, with Epsom salt and unwounded, didn't turn on the tv and just laid in bed, it was heavenly.
6. Lay out your "flat" self the night before. So in the morning, all you have to do is do what you normally do. If staying at a hotel, ask the front desk what time is breakfast, that way you can get your fuel and have it ready to go. Ours was at 6, but because I had to leave before then, they gave us to go bags and let me sneak in for a bagel and peanut butter. I should have grabbed something else too, because 2 hours later at the start I started to feel a bit hunger.
7. That lead to this, make sure you pack enough fuel!!! I dropped two of my items, and had to text my BFF to bring me some more. Our marathon wasn't giving out GU or anything, it was just what cheering squads had. Thank god for the lady with the Swedish Fish, that sugar rush was perfect. I wasn't prepared for losing my fuel, but I quickly found a solution.
8. If you have family and friends coming, see if they can see you not only at the finish line, but along the route. It REALLY helps to see someone you know, especially around that 20 mile marker. I started to hit the wall at that point and seeing my BFF at that moment, with water and fuel, I can't even explain. If you don't have spectators, ask family or friends to text you messages of encouragement and support, so maybe during that "wall" you can see the support and help you carry along.
9. Take in the surroundings. Enjoy the views and the cheers and spectators and those around you. Talk to people running in your pace group or section, even saying hello or hey you got this, it goes along way. I made sure, if I saw someone struggling to just say congrats, because you know what even if they didn't finish, they had the courage to be out there at that point. And I know it made a couple of peoples day. Take pictures. I took pictures of mile markers, the beautiful day, funny signs I saw or shirts people were wearing. I wanted to remember every single moment!! Take it all in, have fun with it. Also text a family member or friends to see what side of the finish line they are on, that way when you can close you know where to focus.
10. And my last advice, run that last .2 for you. Dedicate each couple of miles if you want to people who are important to you or moments in your life. I did that and broke it up into 4's. But really that last 1.2 mile, well that was all for me. I was going to savor in that last mile, like no other. Run that mile with your heart, forgot the pain in your legs or all over. Run from within and run with a purpose, run for the fact that you made it through and you are stronger than you ever thought possibles. Remember how awesome you are. If you are a crier like me, let it all out, you earned those tears and those miles. Smile big, jump, throw your hands up, however you want, get over that finish line STRONG!!!
AND THEN ENJOY THE MOMENT!!!!
I learned a lot about myself from the marathon experience. I learned I really loved running and no matter the pain, I was so happy to be doing this. I never wanted the feeling to end, I really was getting upset that the whole thing was ending. I hope these tips help, ease your mind, enjoy your taper and enjoy it all.
Someone said, the 26.2 is your victory lap, go out and get it!!!