Marathon Questions

Calling all marathon runners. My pre-race jitters have my brain swirling, and my newbie status has me wondering a lot about race day.  Any feedback would be helpful! I know the golden rule is to race like you’ve trained, but I’ve done a lousy job of recording how I trained this time around. I have tons of questions I need to answer before Sunday.

#1 – Hydration. I’ve been running with a camelback on all my long runs (13+ miles). I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it. Prior to the extra long distances, I’ve always ran with a hand-held bottle. I know I’m not going to rely on water stops along the course. I want to carry my own water. Camelback or handheld? Camelback pros – I wont run out of water. Camelback cons – It’s heavy and can make me feel like a turtle. Handheld pros – Less weight. My husband will be along the course to switch out bottles as I need it. Handheld cons – am I going to get sick of holding a bottle for 26 miles. Gut instinct – hand-held.

#2 – Fuel. The race doesn’t start until 8:30. I plan on eating my normal breakfast – english muffin with peanut butter and banana slices. I will also bring a banana to start line with me. I’ll be running through lunch time. Even without running I’ll be ready for lunch by 11. How do you fuel during your race? I use the honey stinger chews, but on my 20 miler I was starving. I still haven’t figured out my winning combination. Gut instinct -honey stingers mimicking what worked on my 18 mile run PLUS have bananas and orange slices with my husband.

#3 – Pace Groups. Love them or hate them? Should I line up and run with the 4:30 pace group? Gut instinct: None.

#4 – Anyone have any miracle cures for congestion and cough? I still can’t shake this bug. I feel fine, I’m just coughing like crazy. I coughed a ton on my 8 mile run saturday too, and it was not fun. (and I did go to the doctor hoping for that miracle cure. It’s just viral and my lungs sound clear.) New Mantra: I feel great, and I will continue to feel great until after race day.

#5 – Outfit. I have no clue what to wear. I thought I had it picked out. Capris, tank, arm warmers. I did a test run on Saturday in my outfit. It was way too hot, and right now the weather forecasts are identical. Gut instinct: I’m now thinking shorts, tank, and throw away long sleeve? And my new cute green head band keeps falling off the back of my head (UGH!).

#6 – Music. I don’t run with headphones. I haven’t carried them with me on any of my training runs. Should I bring them just in case I need a break from my own mental chatter. Miles 16 – 23 are very quiet miles. Gut instinct: the cord will drive me nuts.

#7 – My Garmin. On my 20 mile run, it let me know the battery was low. I don’t think it will make it to 26.2. I’ve done some research and the battery life of a garmin reduces it’s ability to hold a charge by 25% every year (meaning they really only last about 4 years). It is supposed to last 8 hours. It had a low battery before 3.5 hours. I set my watch to only display mileage bc I like to run by feel (and seeing my pace makes me question too much), so if it dies it won’t be the end of the world. I just really like the feedback I get every mile. And I love know my exact distance. Any tips or suggestions??? (and I really want record of my marathon – I want the charts, mile splits, and other fun facts!). Would you buy a new one or hope for the best?

I think that is all I have for now. Am I forgetting to thinking about anything? I have an official case of the marathon crazies.

(A BIG HUGE thank you to my husband for being my personal camel on race day. He will be on his bike with his timbuk2 bag stuffed full at every single mile marker I highlight on race day. He even carries his own cowbell!).

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14 thoughts on “Marathon Questions

  1. First, try to calm the crazies. 🙂 No matter how you prepare the experience of your first marathon will be NOTHING like you expect so try to swallow that and enjoy the experience because you will never have another “first” marathon.

    I’ll give you my personal opinions on your questions.

    #1) I’d go with the hand held water and forget the camel back. The weight of the camel back will annoy you and give you a reason to think you’re going too slow. You have the benefit of your husband who will be there to re-up your water. Go with that. Unless its a very unsupported race I do not carry water at all. I hate the annoyance of holding something in my hand and I’m certainly not going to add the weight of a camelback and I look forward to the water stations because it gives me a few seconds to walk and drink the water — I use to carry my water in a handheld to avoid the walk break but then I figured out in the course of a marathon my walking for 30 seconds to even a minute each time I had water was not going to make or break my actual finish time so I quit carrying.

    #2) I’d go the route of having your husband supply bananas and oranges (mostly bananas because the acid in the oranges might upset your stomach). Keep the stinger chews (my favorite) and you might get a pack or two of the stinger gels — if you haven’t tried them during the course of your training you may be hesitant but since you already use the chews it probably won’t have an adverse affect. The gels do more for my stamina than the chews.

    #3) Pace groups — I don’t love or hate them. I always get behind my intended pacer (usually way behind), but I don’t let it freak me out if he/she gets out of my field of vision and/or the pace group leader behind me passes me. You have to get comfortable with the idea that you are running this race for you and while you have a goal of your finish the ultimate goal for your first marathon should not be much more than to “finish and have a great time doing it.” Seriously. Unless you’re an elite runner make these your goals. If your goals are anything more concrete you could find yourself in the middle of a mental crisis at mile 22.

    #4) No miracle cures but your Mantra sounds pretty solid! 🙂

    #5) If you’ve run in the short, tank and the throwaway long sleeve shirt before and its comfortable, do it. Just don’t run in clothes you’ve never worn before — new chaf spots are not fun when you have to run 26.2 miles. If you get warm quickly I say less is more. Even if you’re cold when you start you will warm up.

    #6) If you don’t normally run with music now is not the time to start. Instead to get away from your own mind chatter notice the beauty around you and all the other happy runners out there — and if you see some that aren’t so happy give them an encouraging word or two and if its a big event slap a few high fives with the spectators standing on the sidelines and periodically take a hug from your husband when he hands you the banana and/or water. It’ll do wonders for your mental state.

    #7) I wouldn’t spend money on a new Garmin. I’d just charge the battery fully the night before and hope for the best. But that’s just me. 🙂

    My most important piece of advice would be that you truly enjoy every second of the marathon — even the seconds that you don’t enjoy. Its a once in a lifetime event that you have trained for and you really want to be present for it all — even hitting the wall is worth its weight in gold. Its moments like these (and by “these” I mean ALL the moments involved with running a marathon) that make-up a part of who you are. Know, without doubt, that who you are at the beginning of the marathon is very different from who you will be when you finish.

    Good luck to you!! Have a wondeful time!

    1. oh my gosh! thank you for taking the time answer all my questions! I’m taking all of your answers to heart. I’m trying hard to call the crazies. Ha 🙂 It is not an easy task!

  2. Deep breath! I am no expert, but I can share what worked for me. Above all, trust that gut! It’s usually right 🙂 So go with the handheld, rock the shorts and tank, and know that you have a sherpa in your hubby. You will not be alone!
    I think I saw my husband a total of 8 times on the course. He carried a cliff bar for me which I totally snagged and ate when I was starving. I got my gu from him at different points. I also had him carry my music which I grabbed from him at mile six. I did not train with music, but I ended up really wanting it on race day. Even now I hear a song and it will bring me back to certain points of the race!
    He also had body glide in his bag which I needed at mile 18 or so because I was beginning to chafe under my armpit by my tank-top. That was a total life saver!
    I did not follow a pace group, but my husband told me at mile 22 that I was on the tail of one and it then became my mission to catch them. So I would not worry about it, but be open to the idea that a pace group might give you some motivation if you see/hear of one later in the race.
    As far as a garmin, I say splurge on a new one if you think that you will be using it a lot in the future. But hey, even a new one can die or lose a signal so there are no guarantees. Mine did and I did not get to see my splits which bummed me out 😦
    What else….it goes by in a blur! So enjoy it. Give encouragement to others when you pass. There is just an awesome, unspoken bond out there. I was not prepared to get emotional, but I mile 20 there were tears. I just remember being so happy that I was actually living a dream of mine. (I am not a crier, so this came as a shock to me!)
    And be prepared for the marathon blues to hit on the ride home! I remember driving home thinking, now what? I just spent five months working toward this goal and I remember feeling a little empty. That will pass:-)
    Lastly, everyone’s race is different. So you might hit a wall, you might not. You might get emotional, maybe not. It could hurt to walk the next day, maybe not. Just be prepared, keep an open mind, and run the mile you are in. I think….wait….I KNOW you are ready. You are going to crush it:-) So go have fun!!!! Now rest, rest, rest this week. (Hoping that cough goes away!)
    Okay, I am done writing a novel now 🙂

    1. oh my gosh – body glide! MUST. I forgot. And what a good idea to give my husband my ipod just in case!!!!!

      I just can’t believe it’s this week. Thank you for your novel. 🙂 I needed to read all of it! and it helped calm so many of my nerves!

      I am a crier on runs only – not in real life. I imagine I will be a mess. I’m already crying thinking about the run. I even got teary reading your comment. eesh!

      1. Oh yes! Body glide! And put on your shirt too! I put it on my nipples for my last full but not on my shirt for some reason…. Had a real nice burning sensation around 18 or 19 for a mile or two…. Didn’t realize how bad it was until Shosh pointed out the big blood stain on my tank at the finish…. 😉

  3. 4- get old school brown listerine into a saucer or sautee pan. steam on med heat put a towel over your head and breathe in deep. the alcohol will kill bacteria and your sinuses will flow like none other!

    7- Garmin 110’s are less than $150 and have everything you need without extras.

    Everything else, go with what you’ve been doing. Don’t change anything. I changed up my gels, headphones and clothes for one race and it was the worst race ever!

    HAVE A GREAT RACE!
    GO GET ‘EM!

  4. I have never run a marathon but I do run with a lot that have and have volunteered at a few water stops. I saw go with the less clothes option. Running while you’re warm totally sucks. Shorts/skirt tank and a throw away long sleeve that you know will be donated are the way to go. Ditch the headband and stick with one you know will stay in your hair or do a visor, can’t remember if you run with one or not.
    The last race I supported we provided pretzels, pretzels with peanut butter, and peanut butter sandwiches for the marathoners. Christian can totally have some of that packed for you in his trusty back pack. All of he runners were very grateful at what we provided.
    Skip the music. You’ve trained without it. You know the course will have lots to look at and keep you distracted. And I’m sure you’ve probably ended up singing a song in your head as you run.
    Mucinex works wonders but makes you drink a lot more water. Taking it now might get it out of your system before the end of the week. It’s always my go to.
    Cross your fingers on your Garmin but if you run with your phone, maybe download an app that can give you all your splits and info??
    Most of all – Good Luck!! I’ll be pulling for you. So wish I was able to make it out to run the half and to celebrate with you after you cross the finish line. You will do great!!

  5. I love the suggestions from the runners above! Mine would only be the same!

    But I will add for Christian to carry a spare tire and also for you to not fully rest all of your support in him. I’ve only had true “moving” support one marathon and it ended at mile 5 from a flat! I. was. crushed. You’ve trained relying on no one, so you’ve got this. Maybe have your parents have some back-up of whatever things you view as essential. But truthfully it’s just you and the road. And you’re prepared!

    Oh and if you’re like me 😉 at times when Shawn has been more present on my long runs little things he does gets me cranky. If he’s on a bike staying right in front of me, asking me why I’m not talking, complaining about the weather, etc. Sometimes it truthfully is nothing, looking back, but something that mentally throws me off. Now he knows (and I know) that me being direct isn’t meant to hurt his feelings and I’ve learned to speak up if something is throwing me off. Sadly sometimes him even being encouraging, at mile 20, can get to me 😦
    So if you’re like me give C a heads up. And if you’re not like that then ignore this 🙂

    And congrats!!!!

  6. 1. Handheld
    2. whatever you do pre and during running on long runs. stick to what your body is used to in training.
    3. start with pace group and determine how you feel from there.
    4. keep drinking water
    5. i’m no good with fashion.
    6. stick with what you did for training. next time start training with them. Its music! 🙂
    7. toss that garmin. check race website for email/text splits. you can have them sent to your phone to check after race, or during if you use it for music. great way to archive them too if you sign up.
    8. you’ve already succeeded just by doing all the training. The rest is ceremonial and incredible. enjoy the pageantry!

  7. you are going to drive yourself crazy! 🙂 YOU ARE READY and just keep that in your head. its normal to feel jittery before you do anything for the first time but when you are done you will laugh at the nervousness you felt before and your next one will be no big deal.

    i’m def going to try to meet you for mile 16-22 or more (if you still want). we can talk or not talk. i can talk and you can listen or you can talk and i can listen. whatever is best for those miles. ill just be there. i wouldn’t use music if you haven’t been. it’s one more battery to worry about and one thing to fuss with if it goes off or you hit a button or something.

    you know my water deal. i use the race water stops and i usually walk through them, that way i actually get the water in my mouth 🙂 but i also like my fuel belt. a hand help might be nice to have toward the end when you just feel thirsty all the time. so maybe Christian can give you one for the last 6 or so. also, not that you should depend on always having someone but i can also wear my fuel belt with a bottle for you for 16-22.

    honeystinger waffles? maybe a couple of them to eat periodically. they are light and flat.

    i like my garmin 110 if you decide to purchase one. otherwise i know it’s nice to see your 26.2 on the watch when you are done but you don’t really need it right? you know you did it!! so if your battery dies it dies. just charge it the night before and don’t turn it on until the start. and just hope it pulls through.

  8. Hey there! So I’m going to add my $0.02…. I’m no ultra-marathoner or expert but I’ve got a few under my belt and have been running longer than anything else I’ve done in life when I think about it. Let me begin by saying do what works for you, what feels good or right to you. I would not make any drastic changes to your program or routine so close to race day and what is good for one runner may blow for the next…. Have faith and confidence and both yourself and your training, do what works for you, and most of all have fun! Now to your questions 😉

    1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate…. Every 3 or 4 miles for me and earlier if it’s hot or warm. An organized race will usually have water / Gatorade / powerade at each mile or every other mile (check the race website) so I do not carry my own water or Gatorade, just less for me to be concerned with. But do what works for you…. A water belt with 4 mini bottles may work for ya! 😉

    2. Eat your normal breakfast as planned. I carry a few GU packs with me but I wouldn’t recommend it if you haven’t trained with it. Use what worked for ya with your honey stringers and coordinate to meet the hubby late on the back half for some fruit.

    3. I appreciate the pacers as they volunteer their time and experience to get others to their goals. Their usually are pacer bios on the race website so you can read up on them, you may not want to run with a pacer that likes to “bank” a lot of time or with someone pacing for the first time, etc. A plus to using pace groups is that you can monitor the pace every so often, chat it up with others in the group, and leave the majority of the pacing up to the pacers. Some try to make it fun with trivia, etc.

    4. When I was active duty there was no calling out sick (as you know), if you were really sick you took your butt to sick call and would be placed on “quarters”. So I missed only one day in almost 8.5 years…. My friend? Alka seltzer plus cold always did wonders to clear up any mild or light congestion, etc. for me ;).

    5. Shorts, tank, and throw-away warm up sounds good. Check on the website though as their may be a baggage check where you can stow some gear until after the race. It’s almost spring and although still cool in the mornings it and you will warm up quickly once you get running.

    6. I don’t do music either as I like to have pretty good SA (situational awareness) of what’s going on around me… I like to listen. Yes it will get quiet once the half runners peel off but remember you will not be alone… There will be plenty of other runners and folks cheering you on! 😉

    7. I’d recommend purchasing a new watch if your current one is dying on ya prior to completing your long runs.

    Kristy you are ready! You’ve done the training both physically and mentally so have confidence and faith that you are ready. Prepare so that you can get out of the house on race morning with ease. Once you are in the corral, warmed up and raring to go relax and go have a blast and enjoy your first 26.2! Tell Christian “More Cow Bell!” when you see him and have fun! We’ll be cheering you on and checking up on ya! Cheers my friend!! 🙂

  9. Ah I’m so excited for your marathon!!!! I need to run vicariously through you right now!

    1. Handheld. Especially if Christian can carry bottles that you can exchange out. Less weight is always better for 26.2 miles. One of the biggest pluses is you can mix whatever you want in it (sometimes the Gatorade on the course is too watery or too sugary) and you can bypass the clusterf*ck at the water stops.

    2. I like to eat my typical breakfast and then take a packet of the PowerBar Energy Blasts to eat maybe half an hour or so before the race starts. For marathons, I like to pre-peel and separate a couple of clementines, and I eat usually two or three throughout the race. The juice is really refreshing. I also eat the Sports Beans every five miles.

    3. Hate pace groups usually. The pacers don’t always run the same way I want to (usually start out too fast and I have to fight through a big crowd to catch up, which is a waste of energy) and then if I lose them it causes panic. Every race I’ve gone into wanting to follow a pacer, I’ve just given up within the first couple of miles and focused on my own race. And every time I’ve beat my goal time.

    4. Wish I could help you there. I still can’t hear out of my right ear after 1.5 weeks, so I feel your pain.

    5. Shorts. If you’re ever in doubt for a marathon, go with shorts. It’s going to be a long day and you will easily over heat. Layering is smart. I usually arrange clothing drop off spots along the course because I’ve run out of real throw away clothes now :).

    6. If you haven’t trained with music, don’t start now. It could play mental tricks on you during race day. Those miles may feel long, but dealing with the cord and ear buds when you haven’t been training with it might be more aggravation than it’s worth. Do what you need to to stay zen.

    7. Leaving it on distance and not fidgeting with it should help. Our always beeps before with a low battery before we finish and we can typically make it. My experience is that it beeps before you’re really in danger of it shutting off. It’s worth a try…you should be able to get through at least 24 miles I would guess.

    Good luck, good luck, good luck!!!!!

  10. I have no help to post but I did want to wish you well! You are going to be so proud of yourself to have accomplished something so great! I cannot wait to hear about your race. I’ll be cheering for you from Richmond. GOOD LUCK!! Erin

  11. All the others have given you great advice. Here’s mine: follow your gut instincts. Do nothing different in the race than you have done in training. You can do this – I can’t wait to read about your success!

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