As I rounded the corner and started the final stretch down the first base line of the AutoZone Park Baseball Stadium, the announcer calling out my name over the field, I was energized and excited to have finished my first marathon.
I have been training for this, my first marathon, for 26 weeks. Lots of long miles, training and planning. With the support and advice of friends, reading and internet research, I had a plan for tackling my first marathon.
In my training and for the run I used Galloway’s 10-in-1 method of running. That’s where I run for 9 minutes and then walk for 1 minute. This was a great way to break that long race down into small distance pieces that I could work through much more easily than looking at one long distance to cover. And one of the cardinal rules I heard was to never try anything new on race day. So, in my later training runs, I started wearing a spibelt to keep my Gu energy gels with me. In my training runs I planned my intakes of the gels for mile 6, 12, 18 and 24. And hearing that mile 20 to 26 would be the most difficult, I pre-planned what I would think about beginning at each of the mile markers 20 – 26. The only variation to my plan that really came up, was that at mile 22 my stomach started feeling empty, so I downed a Gu there. And having a backup Gu with me for mile 24, everything went perfectly!
I ate a good pasta dinner the night before and got a good night’s sleep at the hotel, which was about one mile from the starting line of the race. I woke up 3 1/2 hours prior to the race and ate a light breakfast. Banana, oatmeal and yogurt. Then I lied back down for about 30 minutes. I then got up and took a nice hot shower to get me feeling warm and then bundled up and took the walk down to the race. By not eating 3 hours prior to the race, and not drinking 2 hours prior to the race, nature ‘moved’ everything out of the way that need to be moved prior to race time. 😉 (Fortunately, this worked out to having no need for potty breaks during the race.) And the mile walk to the start got me stretched out and warmed up for the race.
I checked in my sweatshirt and sweatpants at the bag check and made my way to the start. (The best thing about bag check is being able to put on some warm clothes after the race is over!) Wearing a garbage bag and some cheap scrub pants, I was able to keep from getting too cold while waiting for the race to start. It was a chilly sub 30 degree morning. But the sun was out and the day was beautiful! Perfect weather! I tried to find my next door neighbor to start running with him, but with 10,000+ runners on line, it just wasn’t going to work. So, I found the pace group that was running a 5 1/2 hour pace and started with them. The race organizers staged each starting corral with a two minute time interval to ease the congestion. Great idea! This made the course less crowded and much safer.
My goal was to just let my body go and run what felt good to me. Being my first marathon, I wanted to simply finish the race and to beat my best long training run time. Right before the race started, I drank a few ounces of water. Then, at the start I ditched the garbage bag and scrubs, and once going, I warmed right up. Clocks and water at every mile, this is one well organized event! By the time mile 13 came around, I was ahead of schedule, running faster than I had hoped to. I was starting to get a little sore, but not too bad. When mile 16 came up, I met up with my neighbor and we ran along for about 3 miles. I was still feeling good and moved on. Then when mile 20 came up, despite feeling sore and tired, I was ready to get my mind off of the aches and pains and think about good things.
A couple of months ago, our family dog, Jazzy, died, which was realy upsetting. I really loved that dog, and for me, this run was dedicated to Jazzy. You may think this is kinda silly, but for each of the last 6 miles, I had in mind the funny and memorable things I would recall about Jazzy to get me through the last part of the run. As each of the final mile markers went by, my mind was not on my body. I was having fun remembering my pet! When I got to mile 26 I was laughing to myself about my dog that I enjoyed so much. I was having a great time!!! And running past all the supporters cheering me on, and knowing that the race is for such a worthy cause, the emotional feeling I was experiencing was a lifetime memory I’ll always remember. Then, seeing the final time clock, I was 40 minutes ahead of my best training time! That made for a great feeling of accomplishment!
As I rounded the corner and started the final stretch down the first base line of the AutoZone Park Baseball Stadium, the announcer calling out my name over the field, I was energized and excited to have finished my first marathon!!!