Monday, September 23, 2013
Breaking Down 26.2: Part 1
So you've signed up for your first 26.2, which is scheduled for this fall. You are over one month in your training, now let's start to breakdown what you can expect come race day. Over the next few weeks, I will be breaking down the 26.2-mile experience you just got yourself into. The one single run that will have your friends thinking "I cannot believe you did that", the run that will change your life FOREVER!
Nine years ago, I was in the same boat, registered for my first marathon, thinking this was going to be the only one I ever did. Well, 15 marathons later I am still running them and hoping to run 50 marathons before I turn 40. When I took on my first marathon, I didn't know what to expect. I was under trained, under educated, in fact I didn't have a training plan that I followed, I just ran. The race itself was a blur, I remember it hurt, I ran, I walked, I didn't know what to do at times during the marathon. Even crossing the line wasn't something I could draw in and recap for you. The only thing I could remember from my first marathon is waking up the following morning and hurting.
So let's start to breakdown race day ....
You will probably feel like you didn't get enough sleep with your 4:00AM alarm call. The anxiety of your first marathon has kicked in, but you know getting up and getting your breakfast is important. You will probably Instgram your breakfast, take a bathroom selfie of you in your running gear, and update your Facebook status or shoot out a Tweet with "I can't believe I am doing this. Wish me luck."
Getting to the start area, you will probably start to take more photos, meet up with friends and start chatting with others around you. You will get overwhelmed with all of the pre-marathon events. Hitting the port-a-potty, getting your gear checked in, and taking down your final gel and water. As you head to the starting line you are going to doubt yourself, thinking .... "Oh man I hope I finish this thing". Let's be honest, with all those Facebook post, Tweets, and photos on Instagram over the last 5 months, it would be a bit awkward not to finish the race.
You finally get into your corral or approximate pace group, which is probably about 30 minutes faster than you really should be placing yourself since you have been training to run a 5 hour marathon, but you think, "I am a bad-ass so I am lining up with the 4:30 group".
The final count down to start goes, and the elites are on their way. DO NOT start your watch when they go, wait until you actually cross the timing mat.
You will be doing a lot of dodging and moving in the first mile, in fact you will probably have to walk some of it depending on where you are in the start. During this first mile, you will start to feel that you are actually making your way in the marathon. The craziest fans will be cheering you on and you will feel a sense of achievement just making it to the start.
As the groups start to thin out you will start to find a sense of rhythm during the second mile. You will probably start to think, "I can go faster, this seems slow". Hold your horses this is mile 2! You have 24.2 miles to work beyond this.
Somewhere around mile 3 you will probably hit your first water station, make sure to keep yourself hydrated. Remember there is a reason they give Dixie sized cups at water stations, you aren't throwing back a Big Gulp, so there is no need to grab 5 or 6 cups of water. You won't dehydrate before the next water station a few miles away. Just take in enough to keep your mouth wet and keep the water down. The water will probably taste like crap because with your luck the one cup you grab is from the dirty kid volunteering that has his finger in the water as he is holding the cup.
You passed the first 5k of the marathon and are making your way to the mile 4 marker. Hopefully by now you are able to focus in on the running and the first marathon nerves have left you. My recommendation is find someone in your pace group that you can talk too. Dump the headphones and interact with the runners around you. Around this time, you can start to enjoy conversation as well as share the work load with other runners. Chances are you are running with a pace group, if this is the case, talk to the pacer as they can make your 26.2 miles easier just by talking. Take in the recommendations on how to tackle the course.
Here is your pre-race and first 4 miles of the 26.2. Look for miles 5 through 8 in next week's Part 2.
What are you looking forward to the most in your first 26.2? If you have ran a marathon, do you have any suggestions on what to expect for the first 4 miles?