Well folks…I did it! I ran my first ever full marathon – Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN on June 20th! This is a big accomplishment for me as I never imagined I would run a half marathon yet alone a full. It feels amazing to complete something you never thought possible.
Top 10 Things I Learned
1. Training is essential
This may seem obvious but having a training schedule absolutely help as well. I always use Hal Higdon‘s programs for every race. They are easy breakdowns to follow and vital to holding yourself accountable and preparing your body for the big day.
|Hal Higdon’s Marathon Training Program|
2. Proper Prior Nutrition
Your nutrition during your training season is as important if not more important than directly before the race. I went through a 30 day healthy reboot during training season (April 12-May 12). I am so happy I did this as it helped me drop unnecessary weight I was carrying and keep it off. This allowed me to run faster and push myself harder than I ever have before. Proper nutrition is becoming one of my main focuses and I now see exactly how important it is. Results are in the proof!
|30 Day Reboot Results|
3. Carb Crash
There is a common misconception that you need to STUFF your face with pasta the night before the race. Every time I’ve done this I feel like absolute crap, stomach hurts, and just plain bloated and heavy. Doesn’t sound like how I want to feel before 26.2 miles. Instead yes – enjoy carbs that are essential for energy but in more moderation. I typically have my larger meal two nights before race day too
4. Have a Running Buddy
Try and find ANYone who is doing the race with you. This makes it so much more fun to talk about training, run together, but most importantly – enjoy the race together! I absolutely love going to the race with a friend or group, pumping each other up right before, going our own paces during, and then celebrating at the end! Makes the whole experience more worth-while and exciting.
|On the bus to the start line!!|
5. Ignore the Weather
Let’s face it – the weather folks are wrong more than they’re right! Quite checking the weather every second leading up to the run. Yes – be prepared for the appropriate conditions but you’re gonna run either way (unless tragically cancelled) so stop freaking yourself out!
This hits home as this year’s Grandma’s Marathon started in TERRIBLE conditions. It was freezing cold down-pouring rain and simply miserable. Everyone was in rain gear and garbage bags. As the race went on you would see these garments stripped off and thrown all over the side of the course.
When the sun came out about 17 miles in I’m not gonna lie – I think I shed a happy tear. Or 8.
6. Invite Friends and Family to Event
This is absolutely a must for a full marathon! There are many points during the run that you just want to walk, cry or give up. As soon as you see someone you know cheering you on it’d like you become Super(WO)man! The adrenaline kicks in even more and you become crazy motivated to keep going and even step it up!
How amazing is this friend of mine?! Seriously…made the trek to Duluth, created signs, withstood the meh conditions, and ran along side me for a bit. LOVE HER!
|One of my besties and biggest supporters!|
7. Marathons are Crazy Emotional
I have never cried during a run – ever. But wow was I a puddle of baby tears during this one. Every time we would reach a huge crown of people I was overtaken with emotion. Very good emotion so happy tears…but tears nonetheless. Not sure what I looked like to the crowd cheering on but I felt very special and filled with pride inside. It is an incredible, overwhelming feeling.
My parents were near Duluth the day of the race for a 90th birthday party and made the time to come support me. I bawled during each of the three times I saw them. Ultimate support team.
8. Headphones or No Headphones?
I went back and forth if I would wear headphones for the race. I’ve heard that it is nice to not wear them in order to really dive in and enjoy the experience. This allows you to chat with other runners along the course and soak in all of the cheers from the amazing crowds.
On the other hand, music is so nice to keep you motivated during the parts with no fans. I decided to wear mine but keep the volume low and pause the music when going through heavy support zones.
Glad I chose to wear them for my first full marathon as there were times that I was really hurting and needed that extra boost. I remember the first time my body was screaming at me and it did not help that my music was going in and out of service. Right at the point where I was totally about to break down and walk…poof…the God that is MC Hammer poured into my ears with “Can’t Touch This”!! The biggest smile came across my face and I got a good ole chuckle out of the ironic first words…
“My-my-my-my music makes me so hard makes me say oh my Lord
Thank you for blessing me with a mind to rhyme and two hype feet
That’s good when you know you’re down”
…Seriously ironic!! And very thankful for those headphones at that moment
If I ever do another full marathon I think I will skip the headphones too. Grandma’s Marathon is KNOWN for it’s ridiculously motivating crowd and I would really want to soak all of that in again.
9. Fuel Your Body – LOTS!
Morning of the race I had oatmeal and a banana for breakfast. I also had a Gu right before the run. During the run I switched off between water and sports drink at every station, had another Gu at mile 17, and also taffy, a strawberry, and an orange slice from the generous crowd.
I thought I fueled my body enough before and during the run but I obviously did not as I spent 2.5 hours in the med tent after! I felt fine during the run (well let’s be honest not FINE but not med-tent worthy!). Things went south right after I crossed the finish line. My legs buckled and I was gasping for air. Next thing I know some nice man caught me, set me in a wheelchair, and boom – hi there med tent!
At first the docs thought my legs were simply cramping. Well yes they were but things went from bad to straight ugly when they tried to sit me up. I pretty much went limp and blacked out. They realized I was in the wrong section of the med tent (who knew they had sections?!) so they wheeled me over to get my vitals checked. What was really freaky was my fingers were numb and tingly and I could not close them. This freaked me out a bit.
Turns out my potassium was very high and I believe my blood sugar low? Can’t really recall what all was wrong with me but my doc said I was experiencing “stroke-like” symptoms. That scared me even more.
My doc and team of medics were adamant about me going to the hospital. I would definitely have gone if I was still in rough shape but by the second IV I was seriously feeling SO much better. Why pay $$$ just to have a doc tell you you’re fine?! Stubborn I know but it wasn’t me being “tough Christina” it was me being “practical Christina”.
HUGE thank you to the dozens of medical staff for their time, knowledge, concern, care, and extreme patience with me!! They are the best.
|My Main Doc AKA Savior!|
If I happen to do another full marathon in the future I will be a lot more careful and prepared with how I fuel my body. I would MUCH rather be celebrating and enjoying the achievement than potentially heading to the hospital ha. Not letting that happen twice!
10. Enjoy That Cherry on Top
Training is the tough work. Race day is the reward. All that hard work has built up to one day. Kinda like a wedding. So celebrate and really try to enjoy every single hard working moment dang it!!
Welp…there you have it folks! I am not special…I trained for this and know that YOU can too. Happy to help answer any questions if you’re considering running your first full marathon too!