Athletics Magazine

The Marathon Virgin

By Brisdon @shutuprun

I’ve been thinking about the marathon distance lately. I love the recipe for a marathon.

1 part motivation
2 parts discipline
1 dash crazy
1 dollop suffering
5 scoops of heart and soul

Spend 3-5 hours combining all ingredients on race day. At the last minute, i.e., finish line, top off with a gallon of triumph, achievement and emotion.

In the past, thoughts of running 26.2 miles have scared me or even excited me. But these days, the idea of running a marathon makes me tired as shit. I think that’s because my last stand alone marathon (not counting Boulder Ironman) was in L.A. in March (race report HERE).

It was such a mentally and physically tough race for me and I didn’t make my time goal of 3:50, which would have been a BQ (3:55). I came in at 3:58, a full 16 minutes slower than my PR time. I am not going to make excuses, but I am going to make excuses (because we all have a time we think we could have gotten if such and such didn’t happen).

  • It was hot. 80 degrees.
  • I was wearing new shoes (yeah there was a reason for this, but I suffered)
  • It was so crowded I think I made love to 45 people without even knowing it
  • My head was in the wrong place. I was excited to be in L.A. I was not excited to run that day.

The Marathon Virgin

I don’t have a marathon distance race planned (yet) for this year. I am still dealing with PTSD from LA and from IM Boulder. The thing is, if I had a CARROT – like the coolest place ever to run, I would be all over it (Great Wall! Athens! Antarctica! Big Sur!). These days my races are as much for adventure and experience as they are for time/pace. Even more so.

And yet…I crave the distance. There is nothing like it.


Today when I received an email from a reader getting ready for her first marathon in April (in Manchester, England!), I had this twinge of excitement remembering a few years ago when I did my first 26.2.

As a newbie, I had so many worries and questions. While I still fret before every race, there is nothing like being a marathon virgin. You scream, you bleed, you have remorse < oh wait. That’s a different kind of virgin.

Her questions:

Do you have any tips for a marathon first timer? Do I ever!

  1. Nothing new on race day – this includes fuel, gear, etc.
  2. Don’t worry if you don’t sleep the night before. No one does.
  3. Pace yourself. Start conservatively. At the half, if you can, pick it up.
  4. Take in the people and the sights. Distract yourself. Remember you are running a freaking marathon. Be proud.
  5. Be generous with the lube. Chafing will make you cry like a baby.
  6. Don’t look at your watch when you cross the finish line unless you want your race photo to be of you looking at the ground.
  7. Walk through aid stations. This is my preference. I don’t carry water and like to use this as a chance to regroup.

What are your mantras when the going gets tough? Mine are simple because I am too tired to get elaborate. “Don’t stop.” “Move forward.” “You can do this.” “Fuck”

Is there ever a moment in your mind where you think "shit, I can't do this!"? Of course, but I never actually entertain the thought of quitting. It’s more like, “Shit this hurts. Shit I can’t wait for this to be over. Shit, how much further?”

How much do you eat before you go on a long run? My preference is to eat a small high carb breakfast before a run. I don’t like having a ton in my stomach when I run, so I eat a pb&j or a banana or a Clif bar or some combination of these things. While running I replace 25 carbs per hour in the form of gels, chews, Honey Stinger waffles, etc.

Help out a reader! Can you answer a few of  the above questions^^^^?

Have you run a marathon before? If not, do you plan on it?


Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog