Wednesday, April 26, 2006

You Always Remember Your First...

As the Vancouver Marathon nears - Sunday, May 7th - I am getting asked for lots of advice, in particular by the first timers in the Clinic.

After half a dozen years and a dozen marathons the following bits and pieces are about as close as I can get to pearls of wisdom...

Check what the weather will be like on race day the night before. If it is colder than you like, or if it may rain, bring a top to wear at the start and in the early stages of the race to keep warm, but one that you can throw away later on in the race. Some people swear by a garbage bag! The same goes for a hat (most heat loss is through your head!) and a pair of cheap gloves. You can buy gloves for a few dollars, and for you penny-pinchers out there, it won't break your heart to discard them once you are up to full operating temperature.

Pin your Race Bib on your outfit the night before the race. Attach your chip to your shoe at the same time.

Pack everything you will need after the race, like dry clothes, comfortable footwear and painkillers, the night before.

Lay out all your gear the night before.

The same with breakfast.

Set two alarm clocks. Trade early morning phone calls with a friend just to be on the safe side.

There is no such thing as too much personal lubrication.

Write your name on your Bib, shirt, or an appropriate body part.

Everybody has pre-race nerves and jitters. You are not alone.

HAVE FUN! There is no greater reward than finishing with a smile.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

By getting to the Start Line, you are already a Winner!

Start slow and finish strong. You'll pass most of the rabbits in the last few miles. Smile inside, and offer them a kind word and encouragement as you pass them.

Respect the race, respect the distance.

The Marathon rewards patience and smarts.

It is better to be a little bit scared than a little bit cocky.

Blisters happen. Stomachs get upset. Feet hurt. Rain falls. The temperature rises and plummets. Some things are beyond our control.

We make plans and the Gods laugh...

Don't get hung up on a time. Finishing your first marathon is an extraordinary feat. You are officially one in a thousand once you cross the Finish Line! Have a time in the back of your mind that you can live with. There are more races and better times in the future.

Run your race like you practiced in training.




If you lose your running buddy, Pace Bunny or Running Group - don't panic! You can do this! Think of the extraordinary distance you have already come since you set out on this journey. The end of the Marathon is just a stones throw away in comparison.

Enjoy the scenery.

Wave at the crowd.

High-five at least one spectator. You get extra points and a Gold Star if they are under the age of ten!

Thank the Volunteers for coming out so you can spend a day covered in glory.

Remember that you are a Hero to at least one person in the crowd.

The last part of the race is hard. You already know this. There is a reason they call it a Marathon...

You did your training and paid your dues. You are strong enough to do this.

Your mind is stronger than your body.

If you can't run, walk.

If you get cramps, walk.

Keep moving.

Sometimes you have to take what the race gives you. It is a sign of character to accept it with grace.

The Marathon rewards courage in the face of adversity.

Can you believe you are actually doing this!?!

Smile when you cross the Finish Line.

Allow yourself to cry after you cross the Finish Line.

After the race, you will always be a Marathoner.


Blogger legal alien said...

Interesting to read these comments as someone who ran the London twenty years ago. I think they're all pertinant and would be useful to any first-timer. Good luck with your own running!

3:08:00 PM  
Blogger Garou said...

Thanks for the words of wisdom. My first marathon is Saturday, and I'm a tad aprehensive about it. I'll try to keep the advice in mind, especially about mile 22 or so.

3:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Mark said...

You should really write a book.

4:00:00 PM  
Blogger Scooter said...

You high-five a spectator advice is good, but it's even better if you make it a kid.

Thanks for the beef jerky advice. I'll bring some...the pretzels were already on the list, along with chicken broth, and peanuts. A lb. of honey will also be there, bananas & cereal (and I don't know what the event will have). I'm committed to no running, as I want to become a walking centurion (100 mi in 24 hrs) - it won't happen here, if only for lack of judges, but this will be learning for me.

8:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Paul said...


Thanks for providing us with a great blog, it always puts a
smile on my face :-)

So I am well back in training, 12k last Sunday.

I am off to buy a new belt as I notice one water bottle just
won't cur it.

Ironman, how funny. You are an example to us all :-)


8:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for all your tips and help.

You are a great teacher and motivator. Sometimes I do wish that you had a volume control. :)

You have really inspired me this clinic and made me believe that I was better and faster than I thought I was.


10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Anthony Epp said...

Great advice, Vince... I think the thing to always keep in mind is that you probably will never have the "perfect" race but good preparation can help you adjust and react to the worst of circumstances :)... Good luck to all you virgin marathoners out there!

11:55:00 AM  
Anonymous S said...

Wonderful wisdom, thank you for that and all of your support.

2:09:00 PM  
Blogger Vince Hemingson said...

Yes, Anthony, I couldn't agree more.

One of the things that keeps Marathoners going is the hunt for that one "perfect" race, where training, circumstances and conditions all come together on race day to create a magical moment when it seems as if time stands still...

And you can run like the wind and never get tired.

I hope everyone gets to experience such a day!

2:12:00 PM  

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