So, with marathon number 3 in the bag I can reflect a bit on lessons learned in
1). What to pack. I've only done well supported city marathons so far, so I
haven't had to carry water. My little fanny pack includes
6 Stinger goo packs - these are essential to avoid hitting the wall|
2 extra bandaids - these always get gross with sweat, but still work as replacements for the ones that I start out with on my nipples
mini sunblock - for reapplication midrace to avoid burning
license & credit card - in case of emergency; also, for beer tent access after the race
2). Drink all the water. Drink at every stop, thirsty or not. You will get
dehydrated before you realize it, so heading this off is super important. Trust
the math on this one even if your body isn't giving you thirst signals yet.
3). Pace yourself. Start slower than shorter distance races and try to maintain
that pace throughout. I generally hit the first pee stop because the lines are
way shorter than at the startline and it destroys my changes of making a good
5K or 10K time. This frees me from thinking about those shorter splits.
4). Stop. Stop to drink. Stop to to the restroom. Stop to massage the lactic acid
out of sore muscles. In a marathon taking 30 seconds to take care of your body,
the vehicle you're using to travel on this journey, can make the miles ahead
easier, go faster, and even possible.
5). Eat. On long distances ingesting carbohydrates is just as critical as staying
hydrated. Fatigue from not eating can overtake you before you realize it, so
trusting the math here rather than listening to your body's signals is important.
6). Beer stops are okay. The Nashville Rock n Roll marathon has several. Seattle,
not so much. You're not going to get drunk on half a cup of beer, but it definitely
gives me enough of a buzz to focus and ignore the pain, especially after that 20
7). Listen to your body. This marathon will not be your last marathon. You have
the rest of your life to live and all the marathons ahead. If you hit the wall,
or get a cramp, or twist out your ankle, or whatever: laugh. That's right, laugh.
Realize that your life is a comedy, not a tragedy and have a little schadenfreude
at your own misfortune. Laughter will also put you in a mindset to work the
problem. Give up on finishing the race, making a PR, or whatever your goal is
that day. "Renounce and enjoy" as Gandhi once said. Be completely present in
working the problem by massaging out the cramp, finding vasoline for your chafing
or assessing if you can even walk on your ankle. This marathon is just a small
part of the marathon of your life. Focus on solving the problem and you may find
yourself back on the road before you know it.
8). Vasoline between the legs is essential to prevent chafing. I was a mess after
my first marathon because I didn't do this. Bloody patches the size of my fist on
the inner side of each thigh. Smart prevent is key here just like with hydration
and carbohydrate intake. If you wait until they start hurting, then it's already
9). Bandaids on the nipples. Bloody nipples won't destroy a race, but they can be
painful. And ruin shirts.
10). Thank your crew and the volunteers. They make your marathon possible.