(First) Marathon advice from a newbie:
Stick to your pre-long run routine- if you usually drink coffee, go for it; if you don't- don't.
Even if you're nervous, try to get enough food in, but don't stress if it's not the huge amount you think you need- it's amazing what a few days of carbo loading can do
Take some time for yourself if possible (I sat and read while C napped)
Do go for that last potty stop- you probably won't miss the start!
Pre-arrange support locations with your crew- it's easier knowing when to expect them than wondering for k after k when they might show up
Don't get carried away in your first race- you have forever to run strong races and it's so satisfying to know you ran your first one smart (the exception to this rule is H, who ran a half PB during her first marathon and finished 10th overall. She's special- but don't try to copy her, because you probably won't succeed)
Carrying TP and band-aids and not needing them is better than not carrying them and needing them
Calories are your friend- sports beans are good because you can eat them gradually, but dangerous as it's so easy not to finish the packet
Don't forget to drink
Wear sunscreen even if it's raining when you start- the weather may change
Meeting new friends is half the fun of the 'thon
Have fun- the best thing about a marathon is that you CAN have fun for the first half
Stretch, or get a massage, or put on skins*, or have an ice-bath (or all of the above) as soon as you can after the marathon- don't get so caught up in the enormity of the day that you postpone your recovery
Pack a towel- even if you don't usually shower at the race grounds, this may be the one time you want to
Pack your cellphone- an hour of finish line waiting will go so much more quickly if you can call everyone you know to gloat and relive the race in its minutest detail
Pack spare shoes, jandals or slippers
In fact, pack your post-marathon bag the night before, not in a hurry on your way out (I had all of the above on a list, and forgot all of the above when I packed in a rush!)
Make bookings for dinner!
*"Skins" are compression tights- in NZ /Aus they're the biggest brand by far. I've been using them during and/or after hard runs and have found that my leg pain is far less than last season.
After a couple of beers in the pub with the young lawyers contingent, we went out for dinner with C and F. It was pretty disappointing- I just wanted a big juicy steak, but C is a vegetarian, and hearty pub food wasn't high on her list. The compromise place was completely booked out, so we ended up at a completely average Turkish place. I still want that steak dinner I earned! My appetite has been pretty screwy since the race, and I'm feeling incredibly big and bloated. Am craving light, healthy food and looking forward to cleaning up my diet a bit!
P and I then checked out the movies, but nothing was playing, so we went back to the motel to relax in the thermal spa. I went to bed early and read my book! I woke up quite early the next morning and went to the swimming pool next to our room- small, but the perfect temperature for lounging on the steps and reading. Every so often I'd swim a "length" of lazy breaststroke.
I'm still a bit sore (see above) and have a niggling pain in my left foot- I hope it's no big deal, but if it persists I will see someone. Left foot is the one I had trouble with- I blamed it on the transponder at the time, but I may also have been favouring it to avoid hurting my right leg (which was running on the camber). I spun in an easy gear for about 30 minutes last night, then had a stretch. This morning I went for a 20 minute jog, which was fine apart from the sore foot. I'm thinking 2 easy weeks should do it, then the next plan starts.
Where to next:
I'm going to follow the FIRST to finish 10k programme in the hopes of smashing my 10k PB in June. My 10k times have always been out of sync with my 5k and half times. The 10k plan looks HARD, with LONG LT runs, k repeats at 6:48 pace and mile reps at 7:00. But I'll give it a go! I will be quite flexible with it, as I want to get involved in weekend runs with my Scottish peeps again. These could be an extra "easy" run, but I may sometimes have to substitute one for a "long" run. Although club runs are likely to be slower paced, they're often pretty hard as we run off road and hills are ALWAYS part of it! Since the mileage in this plan is lower, I plan to get my swim on again, re-acquaint myself with my bike and re-introduce some weights into my plan. This workout plan, and cleaned up eating, should help me drop my marathon donut over a few months!
The next "A" race after the 10k is the Auckland marathon. So, from Julyish-October I'll go back to FIRST marathon training, but I'll use a time specific plan, not just the first timers' one. The plan at this stage is to break 4:00, and hopefully to run sub-9:00 pace throughout (3:55)- I think this is definitely doable, as I averaged 9:19 across the race, and only slowed to 9:28 in the second half. I took 4 minutes off my time in my second half-M, so should be ok taking 9-10 off the first full. Hopefully I'll be at a better fighting weight by then- at least 10lb lighter than now, and with far more muscle.
From October to February/March, triathlon will be my focus again- maintaining my run fitness, and focussing on sprint and olympic distance races. "Long" runs will probably be 10-12 miles max, until FIRST starts again. I haven't settled on an "A" tri yet- I have heaps of time- but I hope to be solidly sub-3:00 by the end of the season. I am shelving my plans to do a half-iron for now- longer distance tri training is just too time consuming for this lawyer, and I want to meet my marathon goals.
18 weeks before May 3rd 2008, the plan is to start "official" marathon training for the third time round, with the scary goal of BQ (3:40:59). My plans for travel are far from finalised at this stage, but the goal of a BQ in '08 won't change. If I can't do Rotorua, I'll find a race somewhere overseas. Running will be the easiest of the three sports to keep up with while travelling, so I will make a goal of staying in shape.