First Time Marathoner: Preparation


After reading 10 Tips for Novice Marathoners in October’s issue of Chicago Athlete and less than 24 hours until race day, I wanted to share with you a few of the tips that I lived into this week and my thoughts behind them:

“The Cake is in the Oven:” This is all about tapering. Being at the end of it, tapering is both magical and petrifying. On one hand, you’re so thankful that there are no more long runs until the actual day and your body can begin to repair any damage that you’ve done to it over the last few months of training. On the other hand, the decrease in mileage leaves you a lot of time to think. Consequently, my nerves have been out of control. Earlier this week, it would take me until one in the afternoon to eat without getting nauseous. My best friend said she has never heard me so quiet in my life! At that point, I became sick and tired of hearing myself think and I changed how I was thinking about the marathon. I started to refer to it as a celebration run. I watched videos highlighting marathon running and started to coordinate with friends and family where they planned to be to watch the run. This got me excited and my appetite came back with a vengeance (full of pasta, breads and sweet potatoes).

No Changes: Before I experienced this week, my first thought was “Why would anyone change their diet, shoes, or clothes a week before the marathon?” Besides going to bed early—this was much harder than I thought it would be—I guess I didn’t notice until I was mid-bite of the world’s hottest chili on Monday night that I don’t usually eat that much meat and probably shouldn’t start this week. I so badly wanted to get in a speed workout—didn’t incorporate that into my training at all—and continuously reassessed if I needed new shoes, even though my shoes are perfectly fine. Wanting to change last minute things before the marathon probably stemmed from my anxiety about whether or not I am ready. I’m ready…I think.

Pre-Marathon Massage: Best advice ever. I was really nervous (what a surprise) because, similar to 100 other times throughout training, everyone had an opinion about when I should get a massage. “It’s too close to the race day,” or “That’s too far out.” I went with my gut instinct and scheduled one last Wednesday. Why did I choose Wednesday? Because I had time to go after work, simple as that.

Write down Your Race Goals: Have fun, smile, be proud, encourage and help other runners through their walls, and cross the finish line.

Pack for Marathon Day: It’s 5:18 p.m. on Saturday and I still haven’t packed! I am kicking myself for not doing it earlier. I know what I want to pack; I just have to pack it. This is me convincing myself that I shouldn’t worry, even though I am worried. The weather has been something I have been nervous about throughout training. As a result, no matter the conditions whether it was cold, raining, windy or hot, I ran my long runs in whatever conditions were presented my way. I figured it would be good practice to conquer whatever comes my way on actual race day. I’ve been thinking about how to stay warm at the start, what to pack, what to bring, what I want after the race. My favorite part of the prep is that whatever I layer I shed at the start line will be donated to the homeless. And, since I have wanted to get rid of these warm, but not-so-stylish red sweatpants, I’ll wear them to the start line.

Go to the Expo Friday: Check this off the list. There were so many free samples. It was awesome. Most people would tell you to get in and get out and to stay off your feet, but, I didn’t do that. I brought my best friend and we tried a bunch of samples, talked to vendors about the proper way to tape, stopped by the Salute, INC charity booth and took some photos. Oh, and most importantly, I picked up my bib. Seeing the word ‘marathon’ on the bib was weird.

Last thoughts before I go eat, pack, plan, and pray: For someone who is goal-oriented, nothing has been more satisfying than seeing how far I’ve come in the past 30 weeks. I remember my first long run was five miles. It was so hard and I couldn’t imagine running that five times that far come October. But, here I am, with way more than five miles under my belt. Marathon training has given me so much: it has educated me about the Services and motivated me to fundraise over $3,000 for local veterans and their families; it has made me strong, not only physically, but mentally; it has empowered me to know there is not that much I cannot do if I put my mind to it; it has demonstrated how much my friends and family support me: an astronomical amount. All of this, before I’ve actually crossed the finish line! Now, I am anxious to see what happens when I finally do cross that line.