I learned a lot of do's and don't's yesterday. I don't know how many people will ever read this, but I'm hopeful that it will help someone some day.
1. Do stretch after your race. Your muscles may feel fine afterwards, but when you wake up in the morning, your calves will feel a lot tighter and hurt like a bitch all day.
2. Do pack some Aleve in your post race bag. My doctor suggested it to me when I first started getting pain in my joints possibly related to arthritis, and it's amazing.
3. Do bring tissues. I took them because a check list said to, so I figured "okay, this is probably necessary for some reason." For some reason, your nose will just start running when you do.
4. Do have a plan for a run/walk method, if you intend to do that. Tell yourself "if I run two minutes, I can walk two minutes," or "I will walk until 1:15 and then run a minute" when you need more walking time. Not having a plan will cause you to walk more than you intended, even when you don't have to.
5. Do carry water. Even if the course has water stops, I prefer to bring my own in case I need it (or a gel) between water stops.
6. Do pack comfy clothes in your gear check bag or with your spectators. Pulling sweat pants on in 40-45 ish degree weather after running that distance was HEAVEN.
7. Do be willing to sacrifice some of your pace to finish strong, if you want to run through the line. I'd rather drop my pace down a few seconds and run through that line triumphant than keep my pace up and have to walk through.
8. Do measure the distance you have left in ways that make you believe you can finish. At three miles, you're 1/4 way there! At 6.5, you're 1/2 way there! At 10, just a 5K left!
9. Do realize that no matter how fast or slow you're going, you're doing it. You are a rockstar for even lining up at the start.
10. Do text your spectators or support system if you need encouragement. I sent at least three or four texts to my friend who was supposed to also run but was injured.
11. Do have fun! You worked hard! Have a dance party in the street to your favorite song (...um, don't look at me, I don't do that...). Sing out loud if spectators are playing a song and you want to (didn't do that either. Most certainly did not sing "Ohhhh We're halfway there!" from Living on a Prayer..). No one is judging you, I swear.
12. Do allow yourself some time to rest and recover after your race. A week or two off from running will not kill you while you come back from it.
13. Do thank volunteers and spectators. They don't have to be out there in the heat or cold, but they are, because they want to help and support you. When times get tough on the course, these are the people that keep you going because they don't even know you and they believe in you, so you should too.
13.1. Do wear your medal all day, even if you just hang around at home. You earned it, now wear it proudly!
1. Don't think you can jump from 8 miles to 13.1 because you can walk that extra distance and think you'll be fine. It takes more than you think to do that.
2. Don't try anything new on race day. Beaten to death this one is, right? I wore underwear I thought I ran in before. Nope. I ended up with a wedgie for a few miles, and chaffing everywhere a seam touched my skin.
3. Don't skip race week runs. One or two miles once or twice is better than completely cold legs that haven't been used in a week.
4. Don't skip foam rolling. I decided my muscles didn't hurt too badly, and didn't do it. I regret that now.
5. Don't lay on the couch the rest of the day. The more you move, the better your legs will feel.
6. Don't measure the distance you've run in "onlys." Don't say "I've only run a mile so far" or "I'm only half way there."
7. Don't listen to music the whole time. If there are spectators, unplug. Their support is amazing. Definitely unplug at the finish line. Hearing all those people cheering is enough to get you over that line.
8. Don't be afraid to cry at any point. You've just put yourself through physical, mental, and emotional pain. You're allowed to cry because you finished, because someone said something inspiring, or because you dropped your last clif block on the ground.
9. Don't talk yourself out of it. You've worked hard. Find someone to talk you into doing it. I'd be more than happy to if you're psyching yourself out.
10. Don't be afraid to stop and take pictures. Funny sign? Take a picture. Guy dressed as a giraffe giving out high fives? Take a picture (I wish I did!). Your race is over in a morning, but those pictures will always remind you of that day.
11. Don't give up. Unless you are injured or on the brink of injury, don't quit. I have regretted everything I've ever quit, and if you work that hard and quit, I think you would too.
12. Don't worry about what place you're finishing in. You're finishing. If you're first or you're last, you've still accomplished something other people haven't. You're amazing for trying.
13. Don't forget your chocolate milk or whatever recovery food or drink you choose to use. Man, was I bummed when Mike didn't have chocolate milk at the finish for me because I forgot to tell him to grab it.
13.1. Don't look at that medal and think of it as something you earned running 13.1. You didn't. You earned it through months of training. You earned it through the mileage you put on your shoes, legs, and feet. You earned it because of every morning run, every hot run, every rainy run, every good run, every bad run, every run you couldn't wait for, every run you didn't want to do, every long run, and every step you've taken on this journey. That medal isn't just about that day, it's about everything you've worked for.
Now go kick some asphalt!