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Marathon Mommy: The Big Race

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Our final installment of Marathon Mommy takes you to the starting line of your first half marathon!

woman crossing finish line

Vivian Manning-Schaffel: You've bought your gear and trained your ass off. And now, in our final installment of Marathon Mommy, RunnerMom, a.k.a. Vickie Leff, gives us some takeaway tips on how to prepare for the shot of the starting gun.

Leff likens running your first marathon to being in labor for the first time. "Midway through, there will come a point where you say, 'What the *&^% was I thinking?!' But you are going to get through it."

To prepare for race day:

A few days before:
Drink a lot of water to fully hydrate your body. "This is no pansy race! Thirteen-point-one miles is a long haul, so you want to spend a few days to get your body ready," says Leff.

The day before:
Drive the route to get a feel for what it's going to be like. The fewer surprises, the better.

The night before:
Take care of the details. Lay out your outfit, pinning your number onto the front of your shirt and the tracking chip onto your shoelaces. Leff recommends packing a throwaway shirt to bring with you in case it's chilly. And if the weather calls for rain, buy a $1 poncho or bring a garbage bag to punch a hole in for your head -- it can serve as seating during lengthy wait times before the race begins. It's no time for $100 jackets or fancy-schmancy bells and whistles!

The day of:
Don't wear anything new. "Part of the training is figuring out your gear ahead of time," says Leff. "All your equipment should be comfy, tried and true."

Also, get thee to the expo! "Load up on gear from the race! The jacket and mug are your hard-earned bragging rights," says Leff. Most importantly, take a pee break 20 minutes before the start of the race, so you can travel light. "The lines for the porta-potties are usually really long. If the potty doesn't cut it, go into the woods and pretend you have a bathing suit on," says Leff.

At the starting line:
Start in the mid-back of the pack and aim toward the side for safety reasons. Most half marathons hold several thousand people, and an inexperienced marathon runner can easily get overtaken and hurt. Besides, this places you in a prime position to take advantage of the water stations. Slow to a walk when sipping. Leff says, "It only takes about 20 seconds, and running while drinking can bring on a stitch."

Finally, Leff says, when you hit the starting line, take a moment to look around and congratulate yourself. Soak it all in. Because after the race, you'll be too damn tired.

Thanks to RunnerMom, you're off!

For a training log, tips like this, and more, order Vickie's book, RunnerMom: Your Practical Guide to Women's Walking and Running, on Leff's website. And be sure to write in with your marathon tales!


next: 9-Month-Old Had Blood-Alcohol Level Four Times Legal Limit, Police Say
7 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jackie July 18, 2009, 2:05 PM

I think I may just have to find a half marathon to sign up for!

Kris July 19, 2009, 1:30 PM

Thanks for the great tips! I’m hoping to run the Kiawah Island half marathon, so this will really help!

Paula July 20, 2009, 11:52 AM

Such great tips. A friend of mine and I are preparing to run a half marathon for the first time. We bought Leff’s book RunnerMom and it is awesome. Very practical and provides great ideas.

Thank you MomLogic and Vicki Leff for your inspiration and guidance.

Paula

Anonymous July 23, 2009, 8:28 PM

Great tips! Thanks!

Megan July 25, 2009, 6:29 PM

My sister and I are training for anohter half marathon. I ran a full one before my baby so it has been fun training wiht her now…baby stroller and all. It promotes a healthy life at a young age, right? I can’t wait to get this book and read it. Thanks

Carrie December 30, 2010, 1:28 AM

Marathon is really good but its not for everyone, you really need to watch your health carefully if you dont want to fall ill.

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