Respecting the Marathon

When I began running, completing the distance of a 5k was a huge milestone for me. (Some days it still is!) Never in a million years did I think that I would be preparing to run my first marathon in a little over a week.

What’s funny is that when I would bump into my non-running friends some of them would say, “So I hear you’re running marathons now?”.  My instant thought was, “I am??”. Of course, I knew what they meant  – “I see you posting constantly on Facebook about running so obviously you are one of those maniacs that run like Forrest Gump.” –  but I was quick to correct them. “No, no, no. I don’t run marathons. That’s 26.2 miles…nope, not me.”

~Insert nervous laugh here.~

So… here I am, counting the days down until March 4.

I’m still without the 26.2 under my belt but I have gone as far as 20 and it.was.ugly. I think I didn’t take in enough sodium or something because I was cramping like I’ve never cramped before. In fact, if it had been race day, I couldn’t have gone one step more. My body closed down shop and was finished. Of course, that is haunting me now and I’m desperately trying to figure out how to make sure that it doesn’t happen next weekend. *Btw, if you have any suggestions, please let me know!*

I have tons of respect for the runners that have gone before me: the fast, the slow, the walkers, the ones dressed up in a full mascot costumes. If you’ve done it, I tip my cap to you. What people don’t understand, and I’m talking about non-runners and runners that haven’t experienced long distance running, there is so much more involved in running super-long distances than just throwing on your shoes and going for a run. On my long run days, I start preparing the day before. I eat and drink a certain way and start preparing myself mentally. The day of my long run, it’s on my mind constantly. I practice in my head how far I will go and even imagine myself at the turn around. (I’ve run that trail so many times that I know where most turn around spots are for each distance.)  I pack my SPIBelt like I’m going on a little trip and wear a headlamp on my head. I make sure the older kids (who are watching the little ones) understand that I will be gone “x” amount of hours and I’ll either have something ready for everyone to eat for dinner or I’ll pick up something on the way home. I bring treats with me (Chocolate Zico coconut water, a banana &/or a Clif Bar) for when I finish my run so I can eat right away. And even if it wasn’t a great run, I leave with a feeling of calmness and accomplishment. It all sounds crazy when I’m typing it out…. and maybe I am a little but I love it!

I’m nervous, excited, worried, hopeful, scared, curious and really, really in awe that some folks can actually run these things in the amount of time I can run a half, lol.

My goal is simple: Just finish.

If I can finish with a smile on my face and that medal around my neck, I will be pleased.

If you have any advice or helpful tips, I’m all ears!! 🙂 Don’t forget to check out my GU giveaway that’s going on right now!!


Filed under Family, Giveaways, Racing, Reviews, Running, Uncategorized

21 responses to “Respecting the Marathon

  1. agirlrunner

    My first marathon, I trained poorly for it (my longest run was 18 and FILLED with “what are you doing to yourself” self talk). Race morning I didn’t get to eat anything (boyfriend REFUSED to get out of bed). What helped me through was SKIPPING the water and going straight for gator-ade EVERY stop whether I needed it or not. At mile 8, they started giving out GU and I started stashing them in the pocket of my running skirt. I ran the first 13.3 miles straight; I just found that “comfortable” pace and stayed there; just watching the scenery go by. At mile 20, I came across a runner who helped me get through the dreaded part of the race (I never hit the “wall”). He just kept telling me, “I know you can do this”, “You got this” and “You’re gonna make it.” I also kept sight on the mile signs (this race posted one for every mile) and watched for photographers (smile for them) and before I knew it, I saw a sign saying 25 miles. I said “I can do 1.2 miles in MY SLEEP” and went for it. My time is nowhere NEAR impressive (5:09:21 for 26.5 miles) but I crossed upright, healthy and WANTING to run again the next day. When you cross the finish: DON’T SIT DOWN. I walked for about 10 minutes and stood for another 20 or so to get the lactic acid moving. NO soreness the next day or even later. You WILL be walking funny, expect laughs from non-runners.

    • Thank you sooo much for your input!! I know I can do it. My trouble is that last long *bad* run that’s stuck in my head! I think my time will be around 5 hours (or more). I will definitely take your advice and keep moving afterward!!
      Thank you again for your advice!

  2. Good luck on the marathon! I’ll be there running my first half. My 10 miler was ugly then I ran the rouge Orleans relay and my it band is giving me trouble. So I too am facing doubts and the mental challenge of wrapping up training on a less than stellar note. Try nuun on your run for the electrolytes. They sponsored our RO team and the product is incredible. I love tjhe gear

  3. My advice is to just enjoy it. Stay in the moment and don’t let the distance daunt you. My first was in October. I was nowhere near ready and I had been hurt for 2 weeks before. I just tried to take it all in. Realize that YOU are doing this and this is the payoff for all the hard work you’ve put in 🙂 Good luck! I know you, a fellow Tough Chik, will do great. Here’s a link to my marathon blog post if you wan to hear about my experience…

    Also as for fueling, I brought along 2 GUs, Honey Stinger chews, and Sport Beans. They seemed to do the trick. I also walked through aid stations towards the end to save my energy. (I got water and/or Gatorade at every station.) I still finished in 4:18:17 so I don’t think it hurt me any.

  4. Kathy

    Gina-have you tried Roctane? It has more salt and minerals than plain GU. I use it on the longest runs and events. Be sure it sits well with you before the marathon next week. If you use GU then this may work for you too. Have a great time and stay relaxed-it really does fly by.

  5. I agree with you – one of the things I learned last summer when I trained for my first full was how much time went into the training – much more prep and recovery. The main thing I changed was learning to run with a water bottle and/or fuel belt… and constantly supply myself with Nuun electrolytes. It made a big difference. I learned a lot about myself and nutrition in that training cycle. One of my mantra during my training was “Respect the Distance.”… you can’t just wing a 20 miler. Rest up, run easy, recover properly, etc. I followed the FIRST program (Run Less Run Faster) and felt 100% prepared for race day. Good luck to you – that first marathon finish line is so special!! Excited to watch your journey!

  6. Don’t doubt yourself. Youve trained for this, you can do it! Stick to your fuel schedule and take in even more in those last miles. Let the crowds uplift you but don’t get overly excited and go out too fast.
    My first marathon was the insanely hot and cancelled 2007 Chicago. Just do your best with what the day brings you. Good luck and have fun!

  7. Jen R

    Just wanted to say good luck, I look forward to hearing about it. Enjoy yourself. I am planning my first 1/2 this summer/fall, so I understand some of your feelings.

  8. Laura taylor

    Gina, I ran MY first 26.2 in NYC in November. My advice is to love every mile. For the cramps, I highly recommend Endurolytes (by Hammer can get them at Fleet Feet) they are capsules for electyrolytes. I take 2 about 30 min. before the run and take 2 every 3 miles. Work GREAT! I also carried a small bottle of dill pickle juice on my spi belt. Google it “dill pickle juice for cramps” and you will see it WORKS! If you feel the cramps coming on, drink about 4 ounces of it. Football players use it on the sidelines. Make sure you alternate the water/gatorade at the water stations. Water one time, G the next and drink enough, not just a little gulp. I packed the enduroloytes in a zip lock bag and put in my iFitness belt that I wore to carry my gels. At mile 16 I ate an entire energy bar (Luna I think) it helped with my energy/protein needs. I related to all the planning and what to do when. Running 26.2 IS a science somewhat as to what the body will need. Above all, have a wonderful time and take in the crowds. Get little words to chant to yourself, I used CAPS (I am courageous, amazing, powerful, strong) And if you have to, count your steps, like count to 100, then start over. It distracts your mind… silly but it works too. Best of luck!! You WILL be a Marathoner!!!!

  9. Jennifer

    Hi Gina,
    I recently just found your blog through Kendrick Fitness’ facebook page. I read back quite a bit. So inspiring! I was thrilled to see on the rock n roll new Orleans Facebook page your post this morning! I too am running that race!!! I am coming from North Carolina. Unlike you though, I am fairly new to running long distances. I am running the half though, to tell you the truth this is my first race of any distance! I’m so excited! I am corral 21 though. I’m thinking though I might need to move up a bit now though. I’m so excited! I’m sure you’ll do great though! Good luck and maybe I’ll see you!

    P.s any tips for a first timer???

    • How exciting! I’ve noticed that when we start working the race circuits, it’s a small world! Even though you will be worked up and have lots of adrenaline flowing, try to pace yourself and don’t start out too fast. When I ran the Jazz Half Marathon in New Orleans back in Oct., I loved it! The crowds were great and the scenery was really pretty. Make sure you don’t wear, eat, do anything new for race day. I know you’ll do great! When I finally figure out what I’m wearing, I’ll let y’all know and if you see me, come say hi! 🙂 Good luck!!

      • Jennifer

        Thanks, Gina! Def. let us know what you’ll be wearing. I have no idea what to bring? I’ve heard it’s going to rain, I’ve heard it’s going to be sunny? Ahh I’m just so excited/nervous/anxious… The list goes on. Just ready to experience it.

      • I know I’ll definitely be wearing a running skirt, other than that, I’m not sure, lol! I’ve heard all kinds of reports. Of course, that’s how the weather is down here, lol. Hopefully, we’ll have a better idea in the next few days.

  10. Gina, I am so very excited for you!! I did my first marathon last year at NOLA but will not be there this year. One thing I want to mention. I tend to have cramps in my feet, not calves or hams, and have suffered with these for years…they are non-running related. The cure EVERY time: a swig of apple cider vinegar! Had a small bottle tucked into my belt during the marathon. My running buddy needed it, not me, but I was ready. It immediately cut his cramps though he had to have a couple of swigs. The trick is finding a small bottle. At one spot, people were handing out small packets of salt. I went ahead and took a couple and ate them just in case I needed it; it was pass the 20 mile mark. This is a fun race with lots of great support. You will do great! You have trained well. Keep the Finish Line in your mind with your trained pace and continue to see it throughout the run. If you hit a tough moment, see yourself running across that line…it works! Just think. It won’t be long before you will be a one percentile runner…a marathoner!! Let me go ahead and welcome you to the club. There’s no other feeling like it!!!! I promise you!!!!

    • Thank you, Robbie! I am excited! I think the closer it gets, the more excited and less freaked out I’ll be. (At least I hope so, haha!) Great idea about the apple cider vinegar. I have some here at home that maybe I could bring with me? Someone also suggested dill pickle juice? That sounds good too! Thank you again for the encouragement!

  11. therunningteacher

    Hi Gina! Enjoyed reading your post. And the cramps…it sounds like an electrolyte imbalance or sodium. A Brooks friend of mine once reminded me that training doesn’t stop on the days we don’t run. We have to treat each and every day as a training day as a runner, watching what we eat and what we drink. Did you hydrate enough? What are you taking in during your runs? I used to drink water or a sports drink like Powerade or Gatorade. Now I use electrolyte tablets or powder mixed in with the water. Of course, GU has both! FLUID is also another good one too. I’m torn between the powders and the tablets. One thing I notice about the tablets is that if you put it in ahead of time and you go out running, once you open the water, I GUARANTEE you’ll get squirted in the face! rofl. BUT they are very convenient. Powder, mixed ahead, can sometimes lose its potency, but I do it anyway and haven’t had a problem.

    • I drink electrolyte tablets during my runs and that day I had over 2 bottles. I may have just had a little something off (Forgot to mention that I was also getting over being sick for 2 weeks) and that’s what did me in. I’m trying to plan ahead now for our eating/drinking next week. I see lots of pasta in our future, lol.

  12. Wow, am I ever thrilled I came to your blog. Awesome stuff!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s