Guest Post By Mollyberries’ Hodge Podge:
26 Things I have learned during my lifetime of running, most notably, the last 7 years of marathoning, and my quest for the coveted Boston qualifier…
1. Patience young grasshopper. No matter what your goal, whether it be a PR in a specific distance, or finishing the longest race you’ve ever set out to do, or qualifying for another race, NEVER, EVER give up. Sometimes things don’t necessarily happen in the time frame we think they should. Just keep trying, and eventually you will conquer your goal.
2. Pace groups are awesome! In all of my 6 failed Boston qualifying attempts, I never once utilized the awesomeness of a pace group. The day I scored my BQ, I stayed close to the 3:40 pace group from the start, and eventually was able to separate and go a quicker pace later on in the race. If you are aiming for a goal time, there is no shame in taking advantage of such a great benefit offered by people who can amazingly run even splits.
3. There is no way I could have qualified for Boston without the love and support of my friends and family! They put up with my crazy training schedule, my mood swings, multiple times of freaking out thinking I was injured during my taper before each race, and consoled me when I didn’t reach my goal so many times. Most importantly, they believed in me, and helped keep my confidence high, and loved me despite all my crazy running ways. Be sure to give them an extra sweaty hug post-race to show thanks in a non-verbal way, and include them in your celebration, after all, without them, you couldn’t do it.
4. My husband is so wonderful! (Well I already knew this, but it really is a great reminder). He comes to all of my big races, and cheers for me, no matter how long it takes me to finish! He has invested many hours into this sport that he personally detests.
5. Bring your own roll of toilet paper with you to the start area. You never know when you will be the lucky one who gets the port-a-john that is fresh out! Also, you just may make a friend or two who are in need as well, never hurts to improve someone’s day!
6. It is very tempting to start out too fast with all of the adrenaline pulsing through your body; my goodness the start of a marathon is so exciting! But by doing so, you may suffer in the second half of the race. It is better to start out more conservatively and steadily increase your speed throughout the race.
7. The proverbial ‘wall’ really does exist. But, once you hit it, all is not lost, it truly is possible to bust through it. You just have to dig deeper than you ever thought you could.
8. Kids along the course LOVE to give high-fives! No matter how terrible you are feeling, be sure to take them up on their offer! This will make their day, and will result in a little boost in how you are feeling. I swear a lot of them think we all are elite status, they really don’t know the difference, so why no enjoy a little moment in the spotlight?
9. Say thank you to the volunteers who are handing out water and sports beverages, and to the law enforcement workers who are directing traffic. Without these awesome people volunteering their free time on a weekend, marathons would be a lot more dangerous and maybe even cease to exist! I’ve also found when I am feeling my worst in a race, if I can muster out a squeak of a “thank you”, it puts a little extra pep in my step and I eventually break out of my funk.
10. I am convinced that Bodyglide was a gift from Heaven. If you don’t use it, rush to your nearest sporting goods store and swoop some up, your chaff-prone areas will thank you.
11. Ice baths are clutch. They play a large role in the recovery process. If you can get past the first 3 minutes of initial shock, you can make it to the 10 or 15 minute mark. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Sweaty Emily posted a great tutorial (http://www.sweatonceaday.com/2011/07/how-to-take-an-ice-bath.html)
12. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! – It took me 7 attempts in 6 years before I finally achieved my Boston Qualifying time. It was worth every last drop of blood, sweat and tears.
13. Look around you in all directions before spitting or blowing snot-rockets. Trust me.
14. Don’t be afraid to go out and run without music in your ears. For my first marathon I trained with headphones on the regular. Then some races started banning them, so I decided to go out for a run without my favorite playlists and I never turned back. I love tuning into all of my senses; I missed out on so much by distracting myself with technology. Even if you don’t want to separate from your music completely, try it out every once in a while. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
15. By training outside during all types of weather, you will be better prepared on race day. You never know what Mother Nature will have in store for you! I live in Northeast Ohio, pretty close to the official ‘Snow Belt’. We get blasted with all types of precipitation throughout the year. I train through all of it, and I know it makes me a better, stronger runner, and my body and mind will be prepared for anything on race day.
16. Ohio is an amazing state and I am so glad I live here! I have run some really fun, great races in the Buckeye State. I totally recommend the Columbus Marathon for first-time marathoners, and for those wanting to score a PR. The course is flat, fast, and the city isn’t as large as others so you don’t have to deal with poor air quality. But the fans are still really wonderful, and it is a very pleasant course. (Forgive my shameless plug to get you all to visit O-H-I-O!)
17. GU, though vile in consistency, actually works, for me at least. Experiment with different nutrition and hydration during your training, most importantly on your long runs, and stick with what works best for you.
18. Never try anything new on race day! (Food, shoes, clothing, socks, etc.). So many things could potentially go wrong on race day that you have no control over, but you do have control over what you eat and wear, stick to what you know.
19. A wise person once told me that having multiple goals on race day will improve your chances of having a positive race experience. For example, these are my goals for each race 1) The fastest finishing time that I think I am capable of. 2) A second finishing time that I can live with 3) Finishing the race. Even if you don’t make your A standard time goal, there is a lot of satisfaction in crossing that finish line. Don’t let the numbers on the finish line clock be the sole determinant in whether you had a good day or not.
20. There are thousands of people in the world who are unable to run. Cherish each day that you are able to lace up your shoes and head outdoors. It truly is a gift.
21. Not all runs or races are going to end up like you envisioned. We all have bad days, don’t let it get you down, it will make you stronger, and fuel the fire needed to try to conquer your goal again.
22. No matter how bad it hurts, be sure to get up and walk around, as well as stretch the days after a marathon. It will help your body recover a little better than just laying in bed all week.
23. When traveling out of town for a marathon, if possible, spend an extra day or so in the city you are visiting. It is really fun to make a mini vacation out of the race. Running a marathon is a BIG deal and should be a celebration. And it is always nice to stretch out those legs while touring a place away from home.
24. Anyone can finish a marathon. Whether you are running, walking, or in a wheel-chair. We all have the determination and strength hidden within us required to conquer those 26.2 miles. It doesn’t matter if you come in first or last, finishing is what is most important. It’s going to hurt like hell at some points, but you can do it.
25. Dedicating your race to someone or something greater than your self is the most rewarding thing I have done through running. In Boston I dedicated each mile to someone who lost their battle with cancer, or who was currently fighting. I carried my list of mile dedications in my hand the entire race and thought about each person during their specific mile. It was such an emotional and humbling experience all wrapped into one, and I am convinced it is what propelled me to the finish line in my fastest time yet
26. Running isn’t just about the tempo workouts, long runs, races and finisher medals. Running for me is a way of life, something I would be doing even if there weren’t races every weekend. I have used running as a way to celebrate some of my greatest victories in life, as well as a way to process some of the most painful moments I have ever known. It truly is the best form of therapy around and I don’t know where I would be without it!
So enough with reading blogs about running, get out there and pound that pavement!
A HUGE hanks to Page for allowing me to invade her blog while she is off getting married! Congratulations to the beautiful couple!
Don’t be a stranger, be sure to stop by http://mollyberrieshodgepodge.wordpress.com/ and say hi sometime!