A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My First Marathon

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My very first marathon was the Harrisburg Marathon in November, 2006. I was 24 years old. I had been running "for fun" for many years before that. It was my future mother-in-law, Deb, that inspired me to run a marathon. She had run several, including ultras. Deb gave me my long run schedule and pretty much coached me through the whole process. Whenever I had a question, she had an answer!

When I was training, I never skipped a long run. However, during the week, I was on the elliptical more than I was running. For some reason, I thought I would get sick of running if I did it all the time!!!

Deb gave me some pre-race taper week tips:

- Relax... take deep breaths
- Stretch
- Eat carbs
- Watch stupid TV shows
- Drink carbs
- Read stupid books
- Eat carbs
- Drink water
- Lay around in your PJs
- Sleep
- Paint your toenails (what toenails!?)
- Look at your Christmas tree (It was the beginning of November, but yes, my Christmas tree was up!)

It was supposed to be very windy and rainy the day of the race. Nowadays, this would bother me. But at the time, I was just so excited to run MY FIRST MARATHON that I did not care in the least what the weather was like!

The morning of the race, I huddled with Paul and Deb under a storefront awning in front of the capitol building in downtown Harrisburg. All of the runners were trying to stay dry. It was sort of silly- we were going to be wet as soon as the race started! Deb gave me her red Nike hat to keep the rain off my eyes. I had fueled up with 2 Eggo Waffles (only 100 calories each) about an hour before the race. I can't believe that is all I ate!

When the gun went off, "It's the End of the World as We Know It" by REM blasted through the loudspeakers. How... uplifting!? My goal was to simply finish the race. I didn't have a Garmin, I didn't have music, I just had a cotton jacket (HA!), a Nike hat, and a big 'ol smile!

I will never understand why I wore that cotton jacket...

Most of the marathon course was along the riverfront in Harrisburg. As we ran along the river, the wind blew resistance against us. It was pretty brutal. I felt great in the beginning, but my legs were starting to hurt by Mile 11. The wind and the cold were making it hard for my muscles to stay warm. That, and I was such a newbie.

Paul handed me Cliff Blocks at Mile 14.
My legs were VERY sore at this point but my family was up ahead cheering me on!

It was not easy. I had to walk. I had to pee. And at one point, when I was all alone, I cried. The riverfront stretch to City Island (the finish) was the longest and hardest part of the race. Everyone told me to just keep my eye on the City Island Bridge and know the finish line was near. The problem was, it was too foggy and rainy to even see the bridge!

Mile 22- What a view!
Deb ran with me from Mile 22-25.

Crossing the City Island Bridge- FINALLY!

Crossing the finish line was exciting, but it was also RELIEF! My legs were shaking, but I had my medal and I had my foil cape. YES!


Coach of the YEAR!

 Deb, Paul, and Sherrie were my supporters!

My parents came out in the wind, cold, and rain to cheer on their crazy daughter!

I was not cold while I was running, but as soon as it was over, I was FREEZING. Also, I could barely walk...

You just finished a marathon, kick up your heels!

I think I will start a collection of these foil capes...

My parents drove me to my apartment (5 minutes away) after the race. Mom made me a tuna salad and they stayed until Paul came over to nap with me. Then we went to Paul's parent's house for a celebration dinner!

I wore my medal, of course.
And my Jessica Simpson spike heels.
26.2 miles was not going to keep me from looking FAB.
(24 year old me may have done this, 32 year old me would show up for dinner in PJs.)


I was so proud of what I had accomplished. I also had the marathon bug! The next evening I called Deb to tell her I had already planned my next race. And so it began...
Do you remember your first big race?


  1. Wow, that is SO awesome! I love reading about people's first marathon experiences! You have great photos and you do not look like it was painful at all! :0 My first marathon had ideal running weather, which I totally took for granted at the time, lol.

    1. I think I was just so high and happy I did it, but I definitely was in a lot of pain. Lactic acid build up. Nothing like it!

  2. This was so fun to read and such perfect inspiration for me right now as I train for my first!! I'm dying at your heels post-race though. What price, beauty?!

    1. I was hoping to inspire the many of you training for your first race! All the pain is worth it. :) Ten times over!

  3. Meg, I love this! You look so happy (and you do look amazing post race...like really amazing). I am totally laughing at the heels.

    Honestly, I have only run one race in my entire life. It was a 5K when I was 11 and I literally made the decision to run it on a Thursday night, then spent the night at my friends house on Friday and my mom came to get me on Saturday and I ran it. I hadn't really run before this other than what we have to do in gym class. I finished in like 30 minutes and felt awesome. It was a rainy day so after I got into dry clothes I sat in the car and ate cold pizza while my mom ran errands. And that was that. I didn't start running again until HS and never ran another race. My running has always just been something I did because I like it. These past 3 months of not really running have been hard but I am thankful I do love other things. If I can get back to a few runs per week for a few miles at a time, I would love that. And I can almost 100% be certain I still will not race :)

    Thinking of you today and tomorrow. Chin up, girl.

    1. Your 5k story is hilarious! It is awesome that you just enjoy running with no need to race. I don't race a lot because it is so stressful and I truly do just enjoy running to RUN.

  4. THANK YOU for posting this! My first marathon is 6 weeks away and I get sick just thinking about it!!!! Thank you for sharing! I would love if you shared a post about how you felt the day(s)/weeks/month after your marathon. What hurt? Where did you chafe? What do you recommend? I think it would be fun/great to read! :)

    1. I used to NEVER get injured, so I bounced back pretty quickly from my first race. I know my quads were killlllllling me for a couple days after. Going down the stairs and sitting on the toilet is HARD after a marathon, but it is a good, "I accomplished something" type of pain. Other than that, I would just suggest RESTING. I used to never rest... After your marathon, kick your heels up and don't run for a few days or even a week. There is no rush, no need to push it. Running 26.2 miles is not NORMAL. I don't think we as humans are designed to do this and bounce back right away. So remember that you are doing something SUPERHUMAN and it is okay to let your body take a break afterwards. :)

  5. I can't believe you put heels on the night of your marathon! I only did a half marathon on sunday and my legs are Still tired! I am totally scared to do my first full in January! -M

  6. Aww! I loved this post!

    My first was in 2005. Marine Corps (of course). You are a trooper for doing it in this weather! When I ran Myrtle Beach in 09 (? maybe?) it started pouring at mile 20. It was supposed to be a training run for me for the big show a month later in Virginia Beach (we were living in NC at the time, beach marathons were all the rage) but I could not imagine taking twice as long to finish in the rain. It sort of motivated me to get the hell out of there.

    Deb is the best. She got me over that damned MCM bridge last time and kept me on pace to finish under my goal (4 hours). If not for her, I would have walked the bridge (mile 20 ish) and missed my goal.

    I remember most of all of my marathons. The first is special because it's the only one my dad got to see and that was a big deal. He was kind of an awesome spectator for all of my running. Including that time I dragged him to the local track at 6am to watch me do 6 miles so I could prove that I COULD run. Yep. He cheered as I circled a damn track 24 freaking times. LOL

    1. Wow I am so glad your dad got to see your very first marathon. :) That is VERY special and I bet he was so proud of you. I can't believe you ran 6 miles around a track while he watched hahaha! Yes, Deb is an AWESOME motivator and pacer. She helped me BQ for the first time at Philly. She saw me at mile 24 and I was HURTING more than I have ever hurt before in a race . She ran a little ways with me and pushed me to keep my pace going so I would make it! Dang, now I want to pace someone!

  7. OMG you wore heels after you ran a marathon?!! #Hardcore

    Thanks for sharing your first marathon story, Meg! I really love that quote at the end about happiness. It's so true!

    PS: How cold was it at your race that you wore a jacket through the whole thing?!

    1. Okay had to look up the weather info from that day in history haha! It was an average of 51 degrees that day. It rained almost the whole race. It was windy- 15 mph winds with gusts up to 21 mph. It was horrible, horrible race weather!

  8. Oh, this was so fun to read!! I love that your future mother-in-law was your coach - so awesome!!! And, so great to have that total joy and love of running!!
    Funny that you put on heels that night - I bet that was a little painful!

    1. It was all around an awesome race even though it was crappy weather! You will never forget your first marathon. And the shoes- I was young and dumb!

  9. I loved this! Thank you for sharing!

  10. Who knows, maybe I could have BQ'd if it weren't for the weight of the cotton jacket!!!