It is highly suggested that during training you run a race of a longer distance, at least a half marathon, before the actual marathon. This allows you to get used to the water stops, the race environment, and how your nerves may be the day of the race!
My first long race was the Cape Cod Canal 14 Mile Race for Cape Cod Cares for Our Troops August 15, 2009. I thought that I was ready to go! Let me preface this with my boyfriend, Dave, always tells me that I will often act too fast and then forget something. Well, today was no different than any other…I forgot my watch! Way to go Jessica! Luckily, I had my iPhone and had gotten the iMapMyRun app. If it weren’t for this, I wouldn’t have any idea of my status. Running with a watch is very helpful in pacing yourself! This made me think, “What else did I forget?!” My mental state did not seem good. I felt like I was about to go into a midterm exam!
That morning I had got coffee for the ride, just in case I felt like I needed the caffeine. I never drank the coffee. I was too nervous it would get my nerves going and I would have to pee too much! I think I visited the bathroom 4 times or more before the actual start because I was so nervous. I ate my Triple Berry Gu and downed some water. There I stood, nervous and felt alone!
I was intimidated by all the people in their professional running gear and washboard abs. So the race began, and I was keeping pace with some others. Eventually, people started to separate. About a third of the way through the race, I realized that I had passed some of those intense-looking runners. Towards the end, I had passed a decent amount! Some were actually walking! I felt so proud that I had paced myself properly that I could run the entire race!
A little more than halfway, a man who was walking ended up jogging next to me. He started conversation. He had said it was his first long race, and first time ever doing this distance. He was hoping to be able to complete it without stopping to walk. He hadn’t been able to do that. I was surprised he had tried to conquer this without training for it! I told him he can do it! I felt bad because as I had mentioned before, I never would talk during runs. Clearly, talking during my first long race would be out of the question! The man noticed I wasn’t really interested in conversation, and eventually ended up slowing down. Hopefully, I didn’t make him too sad! I think he understood though. 🙂
Because the canal is a high traffic area in the summertime, it was not shut down for the race. There were a lot of bikers, rollerbladers, and casual runners. They all cheered us on! So it was actually very nice to have support anywhere you were. I remember at one point an older man, a veteran I am assuming, had said “We appreciate you doing this! You can do it! Keep going!” (or….something to that extent). This gave me an extra energy boost. Additionally, one of the water stops ran out of water! But then ahead, I saw a family with their little girls, maybe about 10 years old, with a gallon of Poland Spring water and Dixie Cups! This definately made me smile!
I was approaching the finish line. I sped up and passed a couple people! I had told Dave that I would tentatively finish in 2-2.5 hours and I ended up finishing at 1:57:10. I began was looking for Dave, and he was nowhere to be found! I waited a bit, and then 10 seconds later, he was walking toward the finish line with a bottle of water. He threw his arms up in disappointment! He snapped a photo in my sweaty glory and we watched and cheered the other finishers while eating some sliced oranges and free Cape Cod potato chips!
I was pretty tired, but I actually wasn’t too exhausted. I had run farther than 14 miles before. Only thing that hurt a lot was my hand from holding my phone the whole time! I actually had a guy at a water stop say “Hey! She’s a great multitasker!!! Running a race aaaand talking on the phone!”
We decided to stay for the ceremony, and we were glad we did! I got second place for my age group!!! Well….technically I got third, they somehow swapped me and the lady who actually got second. Regardless, it felt great! I was even more pumped to continue training for the Chicago Marathon. I knew I would never get second or third place in the marathon, but that I can do well and my training was starting to provide some good results!
From this race, I learned to never be threatened or afraid of those runners who have all the fancy gear. Have faith in your training and keep telling yourself you can do it! Also, don’t forget your watch!
Have you ever forgotten anything for a race?
Do you get pre-race jitters?
Do you talk while you race?
Do you have favorite race clothes?