Every experienced marathoner will tell you the same thing about your first marathon: just focus on finishing and have fun, DO NOT set goals. So, here are my goals:
#1: Don’t poop my pants
I know, you thought that “finish the race” would be #1, and it is for a lot of people, but not me. Honestly, if it’s between crossing the finish line with poop in my pants or not finishing and continuing my not-pooping-my-pants streak, the choice is clear. There’s too much working against me to ignore: race day nerves, the jostling of your innards for hours, the “fuel” we eat during the run which is basically sugar, salt and caffeine that goes down like Neosporin, and the sheer number of hours away from the bathroom. The struggle is real.
#2: Finish the race
See, it’s on the list. I’m actually feeling pretty confident that I can run the distance. It seemed impossible when I started this training, but I’ve learned a lot from my longer runs which is that, if I’m determined, I can do it. It will be hard, and it may hurt, but it can be done. My only real concern here is that I strained my IT band last weekend and it’s still bothering me, but I am sitting on my butt and not moving until race day to give it time to heal.
#3: I know I’m not supposed to have a time goal…
…but I do. It’s impossible not to. My goal is to finish the race in under 6 hours (5:59:59 would work for me). It sounds like a long time, and it is, but it’s faster than my runs have been, and for a longer distance. Not to mention there aren’t any stops at Panera or long stops at aid stations to chat with friends and eat cookies. Honestly, the self-imposed time goal is what makes me feel the most anxious about race day, which is probably why you aren’t supposed to set one, but it’s also my biggest motivation.
#4: Stay with friends, or make new ones
The thought of running alone for 6 hours sounds awful, and so boring. Fortunately, one of my running friends is leading my pace group for the race. Not only will it be nice to have a friendly face to run with, but she is great at pushing us when we need it and giving us a break when we need it. And if I can’t keep up with her, I’ll make some new friends along the way. We’re all in this together.
#5: Take the win
No matter the outcome, I’m taking the win. I may do better than I expect, I may not, but either way, I will be happy that I said I was going to do it, trained for it, and did it. And, most of all, I’ll be glad that it’s finally over.