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12 Things I Really Wish I Knew Before Running My First Marathon

A little over a year ago, I ran my first ever marathon. Prior to that, I had completed four half marathons, and I felt like I had become too comfortable with that distance. Sure, 13.1 miles is still a challenge — I’m not crazy — but it wasn’t a new challenge. I wanted more.

I remember being 16 years old and watching my mom train for her first marathon. She had just turned 40 and wanted to accomplish something huge (in addition to all the other amazing things she had already done). She would be gone for hours every Saturday morning, come home exhausted but victorious, and groan her way into an ice bath. I admired her hard work, and simultaneously thought she was completely nuts. When I saw her cross the finish line that Fall, limping and teary and so incredibly proud, I knew I had to feel that feeling.

Fast-forward more than a few years, I found myself signing up for my first marathon (with my mom and brother, of course). We ran our weekday runs alone and met up just about every weekend for our long runs. The training was grueling, and more often than not, I’d find myself hobbling around for a day or two after my long run. There’s definitely a certain level of crazy required to run 26.2 miles for fun.

After five months of training, the day was here. The weather was perfect, my playlist was set, and we had awesome custom tank tops. We ran and completed the California International Marathon. I didn’t score an impressive time, but I finished, but not without some surprises. Here’s what I learned along the way and wish I would have known before.

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