I was just about to start this off with saying Happy Monday and then I realized it’s TUESDAY! What a nice little surprise 🙂
We are FIVE days away from the Marine Corps Marathon! I wanted to share some of my marathon tips for the first timers that will be running with the Marines on Sunday. I’m no marathon expert, but these are a few things that stuck out to me last year and I thought they could possibly benefit someone else.
1. Gear– By this point you should have your marathon outfit picked out and ready to go. Hopefully you did your last long training run in it so you have an idea of how it will feel on the day of the race. Lay out ALL of your gear the night before– everything from your body glide, Gu, socks, etc.– get it all ready the night before so you don’t have to worry about forgetting anything the morning. No matter how hard you try, you aren’t going to get the best night of sleep before the race so make this one less thing you have to worry about on race morning.
2. The Expo– The Expo is really cool and something you want to give yourself A LOT of time to go through. I say A LOT of time because the lines are always incredibly long and no matter how much you tell yourself that you won’t buy anything there, you will. Give yourself time to get through it. There are great vendors there with free samples and different demonstrations, make sure you have a chance to see everything you want to see. Also– you have to get your Bib at the tent OUTSIDE of the Armory. Then you go into the Armory to catch all the vendors.
3. Carbo-loading– People automatically assume this means to pack on the pasta and over eat. Do not do that. Yes, you want energy from carbs, but you want it from good carbs and you need to make sure you have some protein in there as well. If I were running the race this year, this is what my pre race meal would be: chicken or steak for protein, a veggie as a side, roasted potatoes and then maybe I would do a cup of fruit for dessert. Stay away from sugary processed dressings, sauces, and marinades. Everyone is different, but I found that when I ate pasta before a race or long run it made me feel sluggish and heavy. For the morning of the race I’ve always had a PB&J sandwich or a PB & banana sandwich. The banana gives you a little dose of potassium to help with muscle cramps and the peanut butter is a good source of protein to help you keep going during the day. I also never ever ever EVER give up my cup of coffee 🙂 That also helps to get things moving in the morning if you know what I mean (insert winky face here).
4. Parking/Metro– The morning of the race I recommend parking at Pentagon City Mall OR in the parking lot across the street from Pentagon City Mall. The mall parking is about $9 for the day but there is plenty of it. From there you can take the tunnel and walk over to the Pentagon to get to the start. It’s a bit of a hike to the starting line– but I’d prefer this over the metro because it helps warms up your legs. If you’re unsure where to go always follow the crowd. Everyone on the metro that early or walking toward the Pentagon is there for the same reason as you.
5. Throw Away Clothes– I think most people know this, but bring extra clothes to keep you warm/throw away at the start. You’ll be standing at the starting line for at least 45 minutes and you’ll be cold. So bring an extra jacket and some old sweat pants that you don’t want anymore. Once you get running and warmed up you can toss them. The Marines take all of these clothes from the race course and donate them to charity for homeless people to use. Not only are you keeping yourself warm, but you’re helping someone else stay warm during the cold season in DC.
6. Spectators– Hopefully you’ll have family and friends coming out to cheer you on! Last year I made this super detailed briefing document of sorts for my parents. It told them what I was wearing– down to the color of my head band– what metro stops to use, and where I wanted/hoped to see them. When they got the document they laughed at the details (I’m pretty sure I suggested they get an air horn so I’d know where they were) but in the end they were glad I did it because it literally had every detail they could possible need to navigate the course. The night before the race I gave them a bag of extras to carrie. It had extra Jelly Beans in it, extra socks, a few military grade Motrin and then stuff to change into after the race if I wanted it.
7. Have Fun– If this is your first marathon then your goal should be to finish it. I’m not a fast runner, plain and simple. Last year I stressed for the LONGEST time that I wouldn’t *beat the bridge. The week leading up to the race I can’t tell you how many times I double checked the specific time that you needed to beat the bridge by. I think I ended up focusing on beating the bridge more than actually finishing the race. Know this information, know what pace you need to maintain in order to make it and then don’t think about it anymore. You’re running 26.2 miles– that alone causes enough stress on your body, you don’t need to stress yourself out mentally in addition. Pay attention to the people running around you and pay attention to the spectators. They really are there to encourage you and pick you up when you feel like you can’t keep going. Soak it all in when you are running. What you are doing is amazing and you should let that sink in!
7. The Course– Overall the course is pretty flat. At the start of the race, I believe within the first 5 miles, you run up a pretty big hill. But that is the only big hill until you get to the last .2 miles. In true Marine Corpse fashion, you run your last .2 uphill, and it’s not an easy hill. But it’s the greatest part of the race because people are cheering you on like crazy and the Marines are right there to keep you motivated and going to make sure you RUN across that finish line. I remember see my Mom on my left, running up up the hill along the fence yelling “go sug!” and then I remember hearing a Marine on my right yell “you are motivating the shit out of me right now!” Then I remember telling myself to not look at either of them or I’d start crying. I kept my head down and ran across that finish line and threw my fist in the air– and THEN I started crying! I couldn’t even get the words “thank you” out of my mouth as the Marine placed my medal around my neck. My point is, they save the hardest part for last, but it’s also the best part of the course. You’ve made it this far, finish strong.
Oh man, just writing this makes me motivated to run it next year! Ha…we’ll see how long that lasts. Does anyone have any last minute tips they’d want to throw in? Any last minute questions from first timers? Let me know! I’m here to help! I’ll be one of those spectators cheering you on on Sunday. Just remember to keep moving– you’ve trained for this, you CAN and WILL finish!
Happy #RunningWithTheMarines y’all!
*For those of you that aren’t familiar with the Marine Corps Marathon, Beat the Bridge is mile 20, and you have to make it to this point on the course by a certain time or the straggler bus will pick you up and drive you to a different spot on the course. You’ll still finish the race if you get picked up, but you haven’t run the full 26.2 miles so you’re asked to not accept the medal at the end.