Mile 3… mile 6… mile 13, my mind was counting down the miles. It was happening, I was on the verge of completing my very first marathon. As a vegan, I did it for the animals and women’s welfare. Completing my first half marathon in 2014, I thought it would be a great idea to have the “full” under my belt. From half crazy to full crazy in just 8 months, registered in June, the race was in January. Previously active, this would be enough time to prep my mind and body for 26.2 miles. Not only was I about to embark on an unknown path but my mom agreed to complete her first half marathon too.
So there we were, together as newbies, some may even say a little crazy too. So how did I finish my first marathon? 13.1 was the longest distance I had ever completed. Well, it is very possible and you can do it too with practice, advice, patience, research, focus, and commitment. Below you will find a few tips and thoughts that I gathered from trainers, athletes, research and my own trial and error.
1. Give yourself time to prepare mentally and physically
Asking your body to run/walk 26.2 miles is something. At times I like to be spontaneous and just go with it but this is not the time for that. Depending on your current activity level you need months, possibly even the entire year to start slow then develop your routine. As you practice you will then learn your mind and body and what it does and does not do. You will see when positive/negative thoughts start to creep into your mind or what mile you are strongest at.
2. It’s not all about running
Your body needs cross-training and the right fuel in order to perform. It helped me to do a combination of workouts while I was running. Yoga, Orange Theory, stretching and foam rolling. With a combination of light and long run days, you need to feel strong mentally and physically. Plus the Trainers at OTF really kicked my butt and helped me properly prepare.
3. What you wear on a run matters
I needed to be comfortable for my first marathon. When I ran the half a few years back the zipper on my sports bra cut into my chest and created unnecessary pain throughout the run. So I needed smooth clothes that would not create chafing or pain. I also personally like long workout tights, a long sleeve top, and hat to protect my skin from the sun. Everyone prefers a different outfit so my suggestion is to practice with your race day look prior to the run. Are you comfortable with a fanny pack, which trainers fit you best, will you run with sunglasses? These questions may seem irrelevant but will make a difference.
4. Eat for performance
Mom and I were on eating plans a week prior and really focused on proper fuel the last 3 days. We were eating to give our bodies energy and stamina and every meal counts for runners. Don’t try anything new on race day, don’t be tempted.
What I ate…
48 Hours Until Race Day
- Oatmeal and Toast
- Pasta with Marinara
- Rice with Vegetables
- Veggie Pizza with Marinara
24 Hours Until Race Day
- Normal balanced meals
- Hydrated with electrolytes
- Energy Bars
Race Day Breakfast
- Oatmeal with Banana
- Hydrated with electrolytes
5. Run for something
Mile 17 and 18 were the miles I thought to myself, wow Jess, this is kind of long. Oh, I feel my body hurting now! I was still very aware of my body and I did not want to hurt myself but at that point, you determine what will hurt you and what will push you. So after a quick body scan, I knew that it was only mental for me at this point. I had my family in mind, my parents waiting for me at the finish line, and the cause I was running for.
We woke up early ate our breakfast and started hydrating in order to digest properly. The race started at 7:00 AM and we arrived at 5:30 AM. We did this to find parking, be at ease, stretch, warm up and complete any final touches. My mom and I stretched and saw everyone arrive. My dad found his paparazzi location. Giving each other positive mantras then BOOM, the race began. We started jogging then my mom yelled go, Jess, you need to go. Knowing my run/walk routine I ran beside her, hugged her and said… YOU GOT THIS MOM! So there we were, my mom was in her zone and I began mine.
My routine was run for a mile or 5 minutes then a brisk walk for 30 seconds to a minute, my watch was set to alert me. I did this for the first 13 miles then I felt my body tired, so I would adjust the time. I would walk 2 minutes or run 3 minutes. Constantly scanning my mind and body when the time was up, asking myself, can I run more or do I need a few more moments to walk?
The cheer stations helped, I remember the kindness of strangers yelling. You got this Jessica! I love your shirt! I love your ears! You are doing great! You are looking good, you are looking good girl! The DJ’s, all the energy was contagious and it helped me move forward. I knew it was helping my mom too so that gave me peace. I drank at every station and every 30 minutes ate something. Mile 20 came along, wow, I was almost done. Our last turn arrived and I could see the finish line. So I ran the final mile, gave it my all and everything I had left. Heard my mom cheering, saw my dad taking pictures (Jess you are almost there) and I was. Passing the finish line was surreal, I completed my first marathon. I kept walking to bring my heart rate down but then I felt everything.
Drank pickle juice, ate, stretched and we were done. We made it! At this point, I was a bit delusional but I heard my name, Jessica Salazar 2nd place! Wait, what? How many Jessica’s ran? What’s the bib number? It was me, and everything became beautiful again. Running my first marathon, I placed 2nd in my age/gender division. I did it for the animals, my family, and all the females out there.
Believe in Your Ability. Trust your hustle.
You asked, I answered. My First Marathon, top questions on my Instagram Stories:
- Did you use Uber?
- No, but that may have been a lot easier though, I’ll check into that! HAHA!
- Can you even run a mile?
- Yes, actually, I can run 26.2 to be exact. I really love to workout and stay active don’t let the fashion fool you.
- What did I eat during the run?
- Vega Sports Endurance Gel, LÄRABAR, Garden of Life Sports Organic Plant-based Energy + Focus, Bananas, Nuun, water, salt packet
- How did your body feel during the run and how did you go on?
- I was really nervous, I won’t lie about that and my body did feel tired at the end. I knew though, I had prepared for the run and I was capable. You must get out of your own head.
- Tell me about your recovery and would you run another marathon?
- It took about a week for my body to fully recover. I still feel foot pain but it’s getting better. Yes, definitely would run another marathon. I know how my body will react now so I may better prepare for it.