My friend Ariel was running her first marathon this past November so she decided to take Mary the Bear with her! She was originally going to run this past years Boston Marathon, but with the heat and her injury at the time, she made the smart decision to wait and find another marathon. Which she did-Philly Marathon! Here she is with Rocky ready to go run 26.2 miles!
Just as a little background info, Mary the Bear was given to me for my first marathon and it really got me excited for my big day. I thought it would be cool to share this experience with other first time marathoners and an opportunity to inspire others to run their first marathon. I like to think that Mary is a reminder that everyone has a first marathon and “You can do it too!”
Like me at Boston University, Ariel was destined to run a marathon. How could you not with the infamous Boston Marathon right in your face?! When I had asked Ariel why she had wanted to run a marathon, she said,
Going to Wellesley as an undergrad, Marathon Monday was my favorite day of the school year. I loved lining up at the scream tunnel and shouting all day for the runners at the halfway point. It was always so fulfilling to see the runner’s dedication and appreciation for the Wellesley student’s support. I knew I wanted to run Boston to be on the other side of the scream tunnel one year. I ran Philly as a prep for the Boston course this spring which I raised money for on behalf of the Crittenton Women’s Union.
Ariel had been through a lot mentally, preparing for Boston Marathon to be disappointed with injury and record heat. But she didn’t let this get to her too much. Ariel worked really hard throughout Philly Marathon training, both physically and mentally. She did a lot of hamstring strengthening and foam rolling to alleviate knee and IT band issues and had been proactive about her injuries and visited a PT monthly. All of this helped her stay strong throughout training for the big day.
When the big weekend arrived, Ariel and her boyfriend Steve hopped in the car and drove to Philly. They hit some traffic both ways, but Ariel was glad she was able to take her foam roller. The expo was one of the most fun parts and Ariel thought it was hilarious that Mary was a “chick magnet”. Flocks of female marathoners were coming up to Steve saying Mary was so cute and they wanted a picture with her. So hey-first time male marathoners-you may want to sign up to take Mary next! 🙂
As final prep, she enjoyed her pasta dinner the night prior and got up super early (before 6:30 am) to head to the start where she was joined with her friend Tina Chen-Xu. Tina Chen-Xu was a trooper and ran the first 13.1 miles with Ariel!
Ariel’s goal was to finish. Unfortunately, she did not. Ariel was sick with a nasty cold the two weeks leading up to and during the race. While Ariel fueled with cliff bars and carried a water bottle during training she didn’t race with a water bottle and could barely finish the bars. After not being able to hold down any food or water for the life of her and still fighting through her sickness, she developed a fever. Ariel was forced to stop at 19.5 miles. A van took her to the medical tent where she was nursed back to health.
When I got a text from Ariel about this, I knew she must feel like this worst thing ever. Honestly, what runner wouldn’t be upset? But no matter how upset I would be or anyone else would be, I think it is important to remember there is always another race, but there is only one you. So that is what I texted Ariel back.
Marathoning can be dangerous. People die if they don’t listen to their bodies! I was glad to help Ariel realize that despite not being able to finish, this is a great accomplishment. As runners, we have to remember that we do put all our eggs in one basket. But the marathon isn’t just about that final race time, it is about the training experience and growing stronger physically and mentally. I like to think that its like in life-it’s not if you don’t fail, it’s how you deal with those failures that defines you. I know that Ariel will finish a marathon and it will be the best feeling ever after going through all this. I’m excited that I can be there to help cheer her on this time!
Ariel’s words of advice to other first time marathoners were:
- Use a foam roller during training!
- Don’t push yourself if it is not feasible on race day! I was really disappointed to stop early but as Jess said “There are always more marathons, but only one Ariel”. Thanks Jess for being so supportive and for getting me pumped. One more word of advice, get Mary the Bear! It’s so fun to have her and read everyone’s words of advice. 🙂
Did you ever have a bad race experience or weren’t able to finish?
Thankfully, I haven’t had a bad experience yet. I know my day will come though!
What are your words of advice to first time marathoners?