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Experiences Outdoors

First Marathon Observations

Back on March 18th I ran the Georgia Marathon. It was my first marathon – and only my second long-distance race over 5k. Here’s a list of what I learned from a first marathon…

  1.  26.2 miles is simply unimaginable until you actually do it. In hindsight, I actually had to run a marathon in order to realize what it actually takes to train for one.
  2. While the CrossFit endurance training works (see my training schedule here), saves huge amounts of time, and I plan to use it again…you’ve got to have more long runs (13+ miles) to acclimate mentally (see #1).
  3. Dehydration matters – and once you get dehydrated, it’s too late, and there’s no catching back up – no matter how much fluids you knock back at water stations. Drink water early and often. I might be wearing a water pack next time. It’s probably worth its weight.
  4. Heat matters. Despite being in the middle of March – it was 80F by 9am. Not too bad if you’re standing still – but brutal if you’re moving.
  5. A marathon might be one of the best ways to see a city. You’re going at a slow pace. You’re traveling a lot of miles zig-zagging through neighborhoods. And looking around actually helps endure.
  6. Atlanta is a much more beautiful city than I had imagined – with more nice neighborhoods than I thought.
  7. Registration fees for a well-organized event are totally worth it. The cops, coordination, shirts, bathrooms, food, water, etc are invaluable.
  8. Random strangers cheering makes a difference.
  9. Little kids cheering is even better.
  10. Spectators telling you how far to the finish *doesn’t help* (only 14 miles to go, wooo hooo!!!). But telling you how far to the next water station – that makes all the difference in the world.
  11. It’s near impossible to run your correct pace for the first 7 miles.
  12. The first 7 miles fly by in an excited adrenaline rush.
  13. Everyone hits a wall between mile 16 and 19.
  14. The mental trick is to think about running to the next water station – not to the finish line (see #10).
  15. Vibram Five Fingers are just fine for a marathon – provided you’ve been training in them.
  16. Cops are awesome.
  17. Really weird and random people run marathons.
  18. Volunteers who work the water stations are *amazing*.
  19. Atlanta’s Druid Hills…actually has **hills**.
  20. The marathon racers in the A group are true athletes. I never truly appreciated just how good they were until I barely finished one.
  21. Hip flexors give out before any other muscle.
  22. Atlanta’s Piedmont Park is a truly beautiful urban park.
  23. Glycogen packs are… like eating toothpaste. Better to go for protein bars or chia seeds.
  24. 26.2 is an absurdly long ways.
  25. There were 7 people over 70 who finished the race… 5 of them ran a faster race than me.
  26. The Atlanta course is notoriously hilly.

And I’m sure there’s more – but 26 seems like a nice place to stop.

By Nate

I'm Nate Shivar - I live in Atlanta and love exploring the city, outdoors, books & Internet. Read about me, my Now page, or my work.

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