Wednesday, 30 April 2008

5 ways to make your first marathon better than mine

  1. Choose a big-city or beginner-friendly marathon. I explicitly chose a small marathon like Blackpool, because I didn’t want to run my first in London where I’d be shoulder-to-shoulder the whole time, and I stand by that decision. But if I had my first to do over, I’d run one that had more support for the average-to-slow runner. It’s obnoxious to have them open the road before you’re finished, especially because I was honest in my application as to the time I expected to finish in and I think it’s the responsibility of the race organisers to get a permit for at least the length of time the registered runners expect to be on the course. It detracts a bit from the sense of accomplishment when the race team looks like they’d rather be washing their cats than waiting for a 5+ hour marathoner. I know I’m not elite, but I don’t think my time is anything to be ashamed of.
  2. Do not, under any circumstances, lose your Body Glide or other body lubricant of choice the week before the marathon. Enough said.
  3. If you’re travelling, bring your own breakfast from home. I suspect this is England-specific, because things close so early here, but really I’d recommend it for everyone – it would have been a huge load off my mind and I think might have resulted in a sub-5-hour finish for me.
  4. Bring supporters who love and understand you. I don’t know that I could have done this without Meg. She met me along the course, and gave me bananas, and told me repeatedly how proud she was of me and how great I was doing, even when it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other. She didn’t take it personally when I snapped at her in my glycogen-depleted state.
  5. Expect to have times when you don’t think you can do this. At my lowest, I reminded myself that “it’s just the wall, it’s normal, and you’re going to be ok.” When I could rationalise it like that, it was easier to keep going forward.


Marcy said...

Number 5, I've been the middle of the fence about. I have 2 choices for a 1st marathon. Either NYC (which of course is going to be shoulder to shoulder) or a smaller one that's close to home, the Hudson Mohawk. I see the pros and cons of both but I guess we shall see how it goes since the NYC marathon lottery will be what determines my fate LOL

bill carter said...

Hi Meg

Well, what can I say... You did it! I read your race report a couple of times, and I want you to know that you did an amazing job despite the lack of support except for Meg #2. Your experience is NOT the typical experience. You should have had a ton more support and at EVERY race I have ever done, there are volunteers and spectators who make every participant feel special. Blackpool should be ashamed of itself and the fact that it does not even qualify as 2nd rate.. in my opinion it is the lowest of the low. I honestly hope you do a marathon again and get to experience what 26.2 should be about. There should be people out there cheering your guts, determination, and courage. After reading your race report, you are my hero. You make the marathon special because you refused to quit despite a craptastic marathon like Crappool.

Congrats on going the distance and I hope the next time you do it, you are rewarded the way you should be and treated with the respect you deserve.

Welcome to the club, fellow marathoner!

bill carter said...

Sorry I just re-read that and I sounded a little pissy. Hope I didn't offend you. Just a little outraged.

Amy@RunnersLounge said...

Thank you for sharing these and your race story! Congrats on your marathon!


Nat said...

I totally agree with organization. I was appalled that Shamrock had no food at all for in coming runners at the back of the pack...

I do the same thing with breakfast. I bring stuff from home. I don't want to risk any issues -- at all.
Congrats on getting it done.

heatherdaniel said...

I couldn't agree more. Picking the right race and bringing your own breakfast. That is true runner's widsom.