Category Archives: marathon

Ten Race Day Tips for Running a Marathon

race day marathon tips

I recently ran a marathon.  26.2 miles.  It was fun… mostly.  This was my third marathon, but the last one I did was over 7 years ago!  My dad has done all 3 with me and this one was his 16th or 17th!  And, he has only been doing them for 9 years!  How amazing is it that he became a marathoner at the age of 47?  He’s my hero :).  So, all of these tips are pretty much from him.  He’s way more of an expert than me!  We both learned a few things this race- as everyone probably does with each race.  So, here are 10 tips for running a marathon that can really be applied to any race!

list png10. Make a list: I am a list maker.  For everything!  But, I did not make a list of all the stuff I needed to have ready the morning of the race.  So, do you know what I did for about a week before the race?  I had nightmares every single night!  I wasn’t even really nervous about the race because I wanted to run it slow and just have fun. But, I worried every night about whether or not I had everything ready!  So, a week or so before the race, make a list of every little single thing you think you might possibly need.  Even if you are not traveling, I would still “pack” for the race.  Just so you have everything ready to go.

9. Thrift Store: Most races I have done, the starting line is pretty cold.  And, you are hanging around for an hour or more waiting for the race to start.  Races usually provide bags that you can put your stuff in and then pick up at the finish line, which is great, but there are 2 cons to this. 1- You have to have the bag, with all your warm gear, in the truck at least 15 minutes prior to the race. 2- After the race you have to find you bag, or wait for someone to find it for you.  So, I have learned, from my dad, to go the thrift store and buy warm gear that you can just take off as you get warm.  This last race, I got a winter coat and some jogging pants.  I had an old hoodie that I also wore, and the race provided us with cheap gloves.  I took the coat and pants (get ones that you can easily slip over your shoes) off before the race.  Then, I took the hoodie off at one of the first aid stations.  The race company will just re-donate all your stuff!  The people we usually do races with like to have a competition to see who can look the most ridiculous.  It’s pretty fun!

8. No Cotton: I used to not think much about workout gear, but over my running and workout years have come to realize how important gear can be!  One of my biggest suggestions, especially with long distances, is NO COTTON!  Not even and especially cotton socks.   I only got a tiny tiny blister on one of my toes this race, which is pretty darn good for a marathon.  I also did not chafe at all, anywhere.  I attribute this to the lack of cotton in my attire.

7. Equipment: Running long distances often times requires a lot of “stuff.” Just make sure whatever stuff you are running with, is stuff you are used to running with.  Don’t try out new things on race day.

finish line6. Finish Line: Find out exactly where the finish line is and go see it if you can.  My first 2 marathons, I had no idea where the finish line was.  We passed the 26 mile mark, and the .2 miles to the finish line felt like forever!!!! This time, I figured out where it was, and at the end, I knew how much longer we had to go.  It was SO much better!  Now, for some people, this might not be best, everyone is different.

5. Fuel Properly: At aid stations, when you have the option of water or a sports drink, choose the sports drink.  Your body is doing a lot of work, and water does not replenish everything that is lost.  I get a cup of both and drink all of the sports drink, and then just a sip or two of water to wash it down.  Also, take gu, or other food.  Same as above, long distances require a lot from your body.  You can start to break down glycogen stores, so it is best to stay ahead of that.  If you feel thirsty, you are either already dehydrated, or have started into your glycogen stores, so drink as often as necessary.

IMG_10284. Talk to Yourself: I do this a lot while I run, but during a marathon, especially at the end, I talk to myself a lot.  My dad runs with me and we talk to each other the whole time, but I also have a conversation with myself.  When it gets hard, you need to give yourself a little pep talk.  “You trained for this, you are ready, you can do hard things.”  Then, at the end tell yourself you are almost there!  Tell yourself how amazing you are and how awesome of a thing you are about to accomplish! I love the quote above.  It is great when you think you cannot possibly go any farther.

3. Have a Goal: Goals are a great thing to have.  Now, just because you are running a marathon, does not mean your goal has to be a time!  I did not have a time goal this last marathon.  I had not trained properly, therefore, I knew setting a goal of a fast marathon would not be smart of me.  So, I had the goal to run at a comfortable pace with my dad, and enjoy the fact the my body is healthy enough to run that far!  So, whatever your goal may be, set one because accomplishing that goal will feel amazing!

2. Have Fun: Whatever goal you set, set another one to have fun!  For most people, running races is not their job, it is a hobby!  And hobbies are supposed to be fun, right?  So, make sure you are enjoying yourself!

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1. Be Nice to Yourself: Above all else, be nice to yourself.  If you are having an “off” running day, you can’t really do much about that.  Weather conditions are out of your control.  So, if you aren’t doing as well as you thought you would, don’t stress about it!  Be nice to yourself, and enjoy the race!


My Big Cottonwood Marathon Story

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So, on Saturday I ran a Marathon!  Originally, I was going to run this marathon last year and qualify for the Boston Marathon.  Then, I made a bad decision, and ended up with a broken foot a few months before the race.  I was determined to recover quickly and still run, but that did not happen.  I lost a lot of muscle in my leg the 6 1/2 weeks I was on crutches.  So, the race was postponed for a year.  In April, I signed up for the marathon with the same goal as last year- qualify for Boston.  For me to qualify, I would have to run a 3:35 marathon, which is really fast for me.

Back track a few months… I ran a half-marathon in March and had some major stomach issues afterwards.  I could not even function for the rest of the day, and probably should have gone to the hospital to get an IV because I am sure I was incredibly dehydrated.

So, I began training for the Big Cottonwood Marathon.  I continued to have really bad stomach aches every time I ran more than 6-7 miles.  It was getting to the point that running long distances was no longer fun and I dreaded the rest of the day after a run.

I ran the Spartan Beast at the end of June with my husband. I loved every minute of the race!  But, once again, my stomach hurt for the rest of the day.  I think it was at this point I decided not to run the marathon.  I did not want to deal with these stomach problems while putting in so many miles.  Plus, I was enjoying my other workouts, like weightlifting and crossfit, way more than running.


I was really stressing out about the marathon.  My husband reminded me that all of this is a hobby!  I don’t have to run!  Sure, it is a great way to exercise, but if I am doing other things to stay in shape that I am enjoying more, than why not just do that?!  Duh!  He was so right! So, I stopped running!

I did not run for a couple of weeks, then slowly started getting back into it.  Just when I felt like it, and for however far I felt like going.  I liked running again!!!

Then one Saturday, the hubs took the boys to the fair.  I decided to try out a little longer run.  I thought I’d go 6-8 miles and see how I felt.  Before I knew it, I had gone 10 miles!  And, no stomach pain!  I began to rethink the marathon.  (Which was now 5 weeks away…)

A few weeks went by, and I continued to run 5-6 miles a couple times a week.  Then, 3 weeks before the marathon, I thought I’d shoot for 16 miles and if I didn’t die, I’d do the marathon.  Well, it was raining and I was tired, so I decided not to run.   Then, my dad called and said they were doing 20 miles when the rain stopped.  So, I dragged my kids out of bed and headed up to my parents’ house.  My awesome mom watched my kids while I ran 20 miles!  20 miles that I had NOT planned on doing!  We took it slow and enjoyed it!  And once again, my stomach was fine!  Welp, if I can go from 10miles to 20 miles, I can go from 20 to 26.2 right?  (I may or may not be a little bit crazy and DO NOT recommend training for a marathon in this way, especially if you are not a seasoned runner)

And just like that, the marathon was back in my plans!  However, my goals had completely changed!  I no longer had ANY desire to qualify for Boston.  I just wanted to run a beautiful course with the best dad in the world at a pace that we both felt comfortable with!

The race started at Brighton Ski Resort and went down Big Cottonwood Canyon.  It was really cold at the starting line, and it didn’t help that the race started 30 minutes late!  It was cold, but my mom had driven my dad up from the other side of the mountain, so we were able to get warmed up in the car for a few minutes!  She’s such a great wife and mother!


I love running downhill, so this race was perfect for me!  There were only a couple of spots that were a little steeper than was comfortable. The first 15 or so miles were coming down the canyon and we probably averaged a 7:30 pace.  Our fastest mile was a 6:43!  If you know how to run downhill, you can let gravity work for you.  My lungs never felt like they were working hard at all for those first 15 miles!

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(I love the photo on the right so much!  Just enjoying a great conversation and not even thinking about the run. And I also like pictures of runners with both feet of the ground.  I just think they are cool)

Then came the hard part of the race.  The next 8ish miles were an out and back on a fairly flat road.  It felt uphill both ways.  I really did not like this section of the race!  Like, really, really did not like it!  So much so that one of our miles was over 11 minutes!  My calves were starting to burn and my dad kind of cramped up a little bit, which has never happened to him in his 16 other marathons!

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Once we got past the out and back, we went up a little hill, then it was downhill for the last 4 miles!  I felt strong and energized for the last part!  In my other 2 marathons, my dad had to literally help me across the finish line.  So, I was so happy to cross the finish like with a smile on my face and carrying my own weight!


Our time was 3:38 which is an average pace of 8:20.  I was only 3 minutes away from qualifying for Boston!  Since it was not my goal to qualify, I am not at all disappointed that I didn’t run it 3 minutes faster!  I did however PR!  My other 2 marathons were 4:08 and 3:46.  They were 7 and 8 years ago, and I’ve had 2 kids since, so I am beyond happy with my time!  And now I know that if I really train, I can for sure qualify for Boston (if and when I want to 🙂


A few minutes after we crossed the finish line, I completely lost it! There is something about running with my dad and pushing myself to my physical limits, that just gets me emotional.  I am so grateful for my dad.  I am also grateful for my body, that it lets me do things like this.  I know it is a blessing and I will never take my body for granted.  I am also grateful for my extremely supportive husband.  He may think I’m a little crazy, but he loves that about me ( I think :).  And, I’m so grateful for my 2 little boys who are proud of their mommy and totally understanding that I missed a soccer game to run this race.


My stomach did hurt really bad for a few hours after the race, but nearly as bad as it did after my half-marathon.  So, I am not sure what my running future will be.  I am going to try and figure out what is going on because it seems so random!

Anyone have similar issues or advice on this?!?