The Nike Women’s Marathon (and Half-Marathon) is this weekend in San Francisco and the local excitement is building. Thousands of people have been training on their own, in teams, or with charity organizations (see Kristen to the right). They have spent months perfecting their stride, nailing their pace times, ensuring proper hydration levels and the time has come for them to put their training to the test.
For some this will be a fun run, for others it will be an attempt at a PR, and for the lucky few who are running this event as their first road race — then I am envious of you and wish you nothing but the best. The first time you run a road race is an amazing experience. After having trained for months and waking up early to get in the long miles, this is where it pays off. For all the times you weren’t able to go out with your friends Friday or Saturday night because you had a long run the following morning, around mile 11 (for the half-marathoners) or mile 22 (for the full-marathoners), you will understand that you made the right choice. If you start to hit the wall, you’ll think of everything that you have done to get to that point: whether it be all the fund raising you had to do, the 5 am alarm going off, or all the running clothes/accessories you discovered you needed along the way. Thinking about that and putting one foot in front of the other will get you to the finish line. A number of things will cross a runner’s mind their first time out and after crossing the finish line the emotions are almost indescribable. It is one of those things that must be experienced. It is the emotion that inspires some of us to keep running. Whether it is your first marathon or your tenth, that finish line is close to one of the greatest things on Earth. Your first marathon (or half-marathon) is something that is a once in a lifetime experience. Literally.
Runners compete in road races all the time, 5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon or any distance you can think of, but every runner remembers their first long distance race. So my suggestion to those doing this for the first time… soak it in. Take a minute before the race and look at everyone around you. Look at the thousands of people that are about to do something spectacular. Look at the spectators during the run and appreciate that they are out there to support you. Around the last few miles, little Billy standing out there with his mom will give you a look, almost as if he has been standing there all day to clap for you and give you a hi-five. The person at the water table has been out there for hours just to hand you a cup of water. That fellow runner towards then end that says “We’re almost there!”, entered the race just to give you that bit of encouragement. And when you cross the finish line, pause a moment and realize what you just accomplished. It’s a wonderful thing and enjoy it.
If you are in the neighborhood and feel like cheering the runners on, here is a course map. You might not realize it, but it means alot to the runners out there. Every time I run a race, there are always a couple people that give extra boost when it is needed at the right time. It might be you for someone out there.
Care to share about your first road race? Throw it in the comments section below.