Marathon lessons learned

My first marathon – the Marine Corps Marathon – taught me a lot about what works for me and what doesn’t when I’m racing a long distance.  Because I learned so much from that race, I thought I knew what to do better for the Baltimore Marathon.  However, I learned quite a few more lessons from Baltimore than I had anticipated.

  • You know how you should never do anything different on race day than you do during your long training runs? Well, I did something different.  It was something I had to do – I wore a new shirt that I only received the day before the marathon.  My Team Fight shirt seemed perfect at first because it’s the exact same style Under Armour shirt that I already own in a few solid colors.  However, what I did not realize until race morning was that I got a shirt with a major flaw.  One armhole was smaller and tighter than the other.  This happened to make for a very uncomfortable feeling and I felt like I was constantly adjusting it.  I don’t think it was super noticeable to others, just a huge annoyance for me.  You can tell in this picture that it doesn’t fit properly:

My sports bra strap was basically hanging out like this the whole time...At least I'm still smiling!

  • I needed my hydration belt.  I love wearing my Nathan Speed 2 hydration belt on my long runs.  It doesn’t bounce all over; it stays put around my waist.  It holds all the water I usually need (sometimes I stop for a refill) and has a huge pocket that fits my phone and as many GUs as I can cram in it.  The water was certainly plentiful at the water stops, but something about drinking from a cup instead of a water bottle threw me off.  I don’t mean it was hard to drink it because I didn’t mind slowing down to make sure it actually made it into my mouth.  I mean that I think I drank too much from the cups and then I ended up feeling like puking.  Not a fun way to feel when you have a lot of miles ahead of you.  I prefer drinking from my water bottle because that’s what I’m used to and it’s easier for me to gauge how much I’m consuming.

Chugging along

  • I missed my Nuun.  Oh how I missed it.  I usually have one bottle of water and one bottle of lemon-line Nuun with me on my long runs.  I tried grabbing some Gatorade at the water stops.  Yuck! I’m not used to drinking it while running so it just seemed too sweet and made me feel worse.  Around mile 10, I remember telling hubby that I was seriously craving some cold lemon-lime Nuun.  That made him crave it too.  It’s an addiction I tell ya.  Quite honestly, as soon as I found my parents at the end of the race, I instructed them to find me a cold bottle of water and I grabbed my Nuun that was stashed in the stroller.  I couldn’t wait for that little tablet to dissolve.

Do you see how tightly I'm clutching my water bottle of Nuun?

  • I made another huge mistake.  I did not take inventory of my GU before the race and all I had left for me and hubby was GU with caffeine.  I love my caffeinated GUs, but I usually alternate them with non-caffeinated ones.  Having only caffeinated GUs during the race did not make me feel good!

I distinctly remember this picture being taken. I was not happy at this point, but I forced a smile.

  • I needed more tissues.  I have this incredibly annoying problem when I run when it’s remotely cold outside: my nose runs faster than I do.  It was only a little chilly on the morning of the race, but it was very windy.  That kept my faucet nose running.  I had 3 tissues in my pocket.  They were all soaked by the end.  Gross, I know.  After the race, my poor nose was so sore from that nonsense.

I know I look miserable. This was somewhere around mile 20. Dunkin' Donuts guy doesn't look too happy either!

  • The biggest mistake I made on race morning was not eating enough before the race.  I shared a banana with Zain in the car on the way to the race.  Half of a banana? Seriously? How did I think that was enough? I usually have a Honey Stinger Waffle before my long runs and I don’t know why I didn’t have one on race day.  My stomach was growling by mile 7.  I had brought some Clif Shot Bloks to the race, but I ended up ditching them because I couldn’t find a spot in my pockets for them.  I was starving.  I remember some of the water stops had bananas, potato chips, snickers, etc.  I was afraid to try eating anything because I thought that might make me feel sick.  I will not make the mistake of not eating before a race again!

I'm only smiling because I can finally see the finish line

  • I wore compression socks for the first time when I got home from the race.  I really think they helped in my recovery.  My legs were certainly sore, but not as terrible as they could have been.  Mostly, the soreness and stiffness came when I sat still too long – something I didn’t have a chance to do anyway with a toddler to take care of! These are the ones I have; I love the fun pink color!
  • I also found that I have recovered much more quickly by getting myself moving again.  I ran again on Monday, just 2 days after the marathon.  I went for a short 3 mile easy run with Zain in the stroller.  I felt great! My legs were a little heavy and my quads were a tiny bit sore, but overall I felt fine.  I ran 4 miles on Wednesday, 3 miles today and I will run again Sunday.  I’m taking it easy, but I’m finding that I actually want to run which I didn’t expect since I was feeling a little burnt out on my training before the race.  This is drastically different from after my first marathon when I did not run for 3 weeks because of my lingering injuries and pain.  I think part of why I want to run now is because I really couldn’t back then.  It feels good to feel so good!


  • One lesson I’m so glad I did not have to learn from the race was a new place on my body that needs Body Glide.  This was a huge feat.  Every distance race I’ve done has left me with a new spot on my body where I discovered that I needed to put Body Glide or that I did not put enough Body Glide.  It’s a painful discovery when that happens and I’m happy I came out unscathed this time.  I had a close call though when I realized at the starting line that I forgot a spot.  Good thing I had my pocket size Body Glide with me!

A lifesaver

I learned a lot from the Baltimore Marathon.  I think armed with the knowledge from it and my first marathon, I really can do better when I run my next marathon.  If you haven’t already, be sure to get out my race recap and my very special guest post – Hubby’s race recap!

What have you learned from races you’ve run?


    • kristen says

      Very interesting to read what you learned too, David! I think every race I run will probably be a learning experience for me.

    • kristen says

      I know! It was a bad idea. I used to like Gatorade, but I guess I’ve gotten used to the lighter flavor of Nuun. Since I haven’t had it in a while, it was just not working for me. That sucks about the chafing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *

CommentLuv badge