I ran the Marine Corps Marathon today. What a rush! It was my very first official marathon and I was nervous. I felt much better once we actually started running. It was challenging because on my long training runs I knew the trail really well so I knew exactly where I was going and how long it would take me to get there. I didn't know the course for the marathon. I'd looked at the map but it didn't really mean much until I was actually out there. In the past, when I've run shorter races, I found the spectators kind of annoying. When they shouted out "Keep going! You can do it!" it seemed redundant because I run everyday so of course I knew I could do it. I did it everyday. But my last 20 mile training run had been really tough and I wasn't sure I could do the marathon. So I found the spectators extremely encouraging and at times - highly entertaining. I also learned a lot about running a marathon. These lessons were what mostly occupied my thoughts as I was running. So here are a few highlights from the marathon as well as some lessons I learned:
The biggest highlight were the spectators. Here are a few spectator highlights:
A sign: "May the Course be with you"
A sign: "Chuck Norris wouldn't quit"
A lady yelling "you're almost there" at mile 2
the men - and some of the women - peeing along Spout Run Parkway
Lessons I learned if you're a spectator:
The sign "Run Forest (insert actual name of runner) Run" is WAY overused! Come up with something more original.
Bring signs. Even if they say "Run Bronwyn Run"
Yell. Clap. Scream. Encourage the runners. They really, really appreciate it. It really makes a difference. It's easier to run when the spectators are encouraging you.
Dress up. It's fun and adds some variety to the race.
Clap for everyone. Every runner needs the encouragement.
Start at the beginning and then move to different mileposts. Your runner will appreciate your encouragement.
Set up shop between mileposts. It can get pretty quiet which makes it harder to run - especially at the end.
Bring candy for the runners. A quick boost of energy is really helpful and it's no fun to have to carry stuff with you while you're running.
If you can't make it to the whole race, meet your runner(s) at the end. Even if they don't see you, knowing you were there makes an incredible difference.
Lessons I learned if you're a runner:
It doesn't matter who you pass or -more importantly -who passes you. It matters that you've set goals for yourself and that you're working to accomplish those goals.
Be aware of the runners around you. Someone may need your help and everyone needs everyone's courtesy and thoughtfulness.
Do your long runs. This gets you used to how your body reacts to running a lot of miles. You'll know what may go wrong and can fix it before the race. You also develop the mental toughness that you'll desperately need starting around mile 20. Or before.
Do hill work - even if you think the course will be flat. You never know when a hill will be waiting for you around the next corner!
Please, please, please don't pee into the bushes along the course. One word: awkward! (Okay, I understand that when you gotta go you gotta go and you either can't wait for the nearest porta potty or you don't want to wait in the line. But still!)
Do your cross training. I'd recommend weights. If I'd lifted more weights, I don't think my quads would have hurt so much.
Stretch really well before, during, and after the race. Actually, stretch a lot during the race. Stretching made a huge difference to me finishing.
Drink a lot of water. And walk through the water breaks so you can actually drink the water. I had the hardest time on long training runs when I didn't have water and I couldn't believe the difference drinking water throughout the race made. I think that and stretching actually made the biggest difference to finishing.
Cheer on other runners when you finish. If you're still standing, that is.
Dress up if you can stand it. (I don't think I could run a marathon in a Kermit the Frog bodysuit, but that's just me.)
Don't carry anything extra with you that you won't need. They'll provide water so unless you drink A LOT of water, the water they provide should be enough.
Anyway, these are the lessons I learned for me. Everyone is different. But I'm so glad I ran the marathon and I can't wait to run another! I'm going to - just as soon as I can walk again.