7 Lessons I Learned During my First Marathon

The L.A. Marathon is tomorrow, which means that it’s been almost a year since I ran my first marathon! I really wanted to be there to cheer on all the runners but since I’m out of town this weekend I thought that I would celebrate this weekend with a post on the lessons that I learned at LA last year

7 Lessons I learned during my first marathon


1. Never. Ever. Eat spicy foods the night before a race.

For my pre-race meal we went to Buca de Beppo and got my favorite dish there, the Spicy Chicken Rigatoni. While this is my normal go-to it is probably the culprit behind my TWO porta-potty pit stops.

2. It’s really important to check out the course map before a race.

Southern California is relatively flat. In the city I live in its hard to find a decent place to do hill repeats because hills are just that scarce. I assumed the same would be true of the L.A. course, but I was soooo wrong. I didn’t realize this until i was running through the Hollywood HILLS neighborhood and was kicking myself for not studying the elevation chart!

la marathon elevation

3. Stick to your goal pace (or slower) the first 13 miles, you have a lot of time to speed up the second half of the race.

My goal time for L.A. was 3:15, which is only 7:26 pace. But I thought it was a good idea to go out my first mile and run a 6:37, and average 6:35 for the first half marathon. I may have run 3:10:17, but those last 6 miles of walking/jogging 8-10 minute miles was no fun at all…

mile splits

The hardest miles of the entire race!

4. Practicing your mid-race hydration/fueling during training is ESSENTIAL!

I can’t really give a good reason why I never used water/GU/energy blocks while I was training for LA, but I didn’t. After failing to get down either of the GU packets I had brought for the race (and very nearly gagging on the orange flavored one) the only fuel I managed to take in during the run was the energy drink the volunteers were handing out. The sure way I sealed the deal on me hitting the wall.

5. Once you walk starting to run again is the worst thing ever.

Around mile 20 I started taking walking breaks, which is probably the worst thing I could have done to myself. It may sound counterintuitive but My legs cramped big time and screamed at me any time I started to run again. In the future, I will do everything in my power to keep running, no matter how slow, just to avoid the pain of those leg cramps!


6. Having family and friends there to cheer you on is the best!

I was in shock at the amount of support I had during this race! Obviously Henri, my #1 cheerleader, was there to support me but what was really special was having my sister and her boyfriend in town that weekend and my in-laws meeting us at the finish to take us to lunch afterwards! I am also so thankful for the friends that helped pace me for a few miles of the race and all the friends I saw along the course (including Hayley)!


With Henri at the starting line


With my sissy!

7. No matter what smile as you cross the finish line.

It doesn’t matter if you just ran a huge PR or had the worst race of your life. You just traveled 26.2 miles on your own two legs, something very few people have done. You are seriously awesome, so smile! 🙂


The best smile I could manage!

Good luck to everyone running L.A. tomorrow! I can’t wait to read all your race recaps!

What’s one thing you learned during your first half/full marathon?

Anyone running LA? What’s your goal?


17 thoughts on “7 Lessons I Learned During my First Marathon

  1. Ugh, I did most of the same stuff in my first marathon. Ate a super cheesy meal the night before, didn’t fuel properly, went out WAY too fast (6:00 mile my first mile…HA! My goal was 8:00) and resorted to walking… At least there was a lot of room for improvement for #2 😉 I’m super uptight about food and pacing in all my races now!

  2. I feel like I’m going to make soooo many mistakes during my first marathon but at the end of the day, each race is a learning experience and it helps us become better runners! Assuming we don’t make the same mistakes at the next race…

  3. I think everyone makes mistakes their first time around. Because it is your 1st time. The important thing is you realize what didn’t work for you and you go back the 2nd time smarter and more prepared. I have never done LA marathon but am really considering it for next year. Should be a great year for it.

  4. The transition from walking to running is the worst! When I ran the Baltimore marathon in October I started walking the uphills around mile 17. This was a bad idea because there were still so many hills to go and if I walked them all it would have taken forever…and I just wanted the race to be over with!

  5. Pingback: Weekly Faves 3/13/14 | Running Southern

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