My first marathon was the Marine Corps Marathon in October 2015. It seems like only a few weeks ago, I was on the eve of that race, filled with excitement and anxiety about the race, about the unknown. Somehow though, it has been two years. And in two years, I’ve now run 16 marathons. Sixteen! And while every marathon has been different from any other one, there are some things that I’ve observed as part of my race day experience.
After 16 marathons…
I still have trouble sleeping the night before a race.
My heart still beats out of control as I am in the corral, waiting for the gun to go off.
Doubts about whether I can make it the full 26.2 plague me in the week leading up to the race, and they explode in the 12 hours before the start.
The doubts about whether I can do it or not never truly go away until I see the 20 mile sign. That is when I know in my brain that I will make it. Even if I have to crawl the final 10K.
I regularly forget a part of my ‘favourite’ race day outfit. For some reason, my shorts are the biggest issue. I have on multiple occasions grabbed the wrong pair of shorts while packing for my trip.
My playlist on my iPhone is the same one I used for my first marathon. I know how well I am doing timewise in a race by where I am on the playlist at a given mile.
Chatting with runners at the start is always a way to help calm my nerves.
I still read as many of the signs I see on the course, and yes, I still get a chuckle out of the old favourites such as ‘Worst Parade Ever’ or ‘This seems like a lot of work for a free banana.’
Shouting encouragement to other runners is one of the best ways to pump myself up.
Running for a purpose – whether a cause or to honour a person – keeps me moving forward and with bursts of energy when I think about for whom I am running.
Miles 21-25 are a blur, even when I consciously try to burn some memory of those miles on my brain.
I smile coming into the finish line.
I’m sad around mile 25 that it will all be finished in about 12 more minutes. Sad and elated at the same time.
It still hurts.
It’s still a really far distance to run.
Yet somehow it seems to go by so quickly.
Beer is always my first craving when I am finished, followed by salty french fries.
I need a nap that afternoon.
I wonder how I was able to make it 26.2 miles. And why I plan on doing it again as I always seem to have another one on the schedule!
What are some of the things you have noticed from your multiple race experiences – half marathons, 10K’s, ultras, marathons or other? What are some of your random race day observations?