Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Things I learned from my first marathon with guest blogger, Tammy!

Every one once in awhile we like to have one of our friends share with y'all their story. Whether a story of how they got started or the secrets to their runs or their big accomplishments. Today we are introducing a friend of Dawn's, Tammy Townsend, they worked together at Collierville Elementary where Tammy is a teacher. She was there supporting Dawn as she trained for the same marathon last year! She had some of the same feelings we had and we asked her to share with us! Thank you,Tammy!

I’m not sure how I got here.....writing anything about running, let alone a marathon. When I started running almost 15 years ago, there were no iPods, Run Keeper, Map My Run, etc. I created my own precursor to the “Couch to 5k” with a spreadsheet and a kitchen timer (which I actually carried with me when I ran). Racing and PRs never crossed my mind. But when my husband and I started discussing having a family, I knew I needed to be in shape before I started that new adventure.

Fast forward to today. We have two children – now 13 and 7. Eventually 5Ks gave way to 10Ks. Then when that wasn’t enough to get rid of the second baby pounds, along came the half marathon training. And there I sat. Content and happy. In half marathon land. I love half marathons. I’ve finished 15, about a third of those with my husband.

I should tell you that I’m very competitive with myself. I’m really not interested in racing against other people. (Okay, that’s a lie. I always want to clock a faster time than my husband and whoever is in front of me in the finishing chute.) Still, I always want to perform better than the last time. I was happy trying to improve my half marathon finishing time. I never had any desire to go to the next level. So what happened?

Forty happened! Looking for a new adventure, I turned to Runner’s World. And there it was. Listed as the best marathon for first timers – the Chicago Marathon. Flat, fast and friendly. What more can a runner ask for? AND I was lucky enough to get registered before the website crashed. It was meant to be! J

After four months of training, I lined up in Chicago on that beautiful Sunday morning. The weather was perfect. The race volunteers were friendly. The crowd was electrifying. The race started and I couldn’t believe how much fun I was having. I also began to make note of a few things about the experience. A friend had told me that, “You don’t know what you don’t know” and she was right. So I began to file away a few things that I was learning. I used the ideas to distract me as I ran through the difficult miles between the 20 and 24-mile markers. Not wanting to let go of the amazing experience, I wrote them down on the trip home so I could reread them and always remember my first marathon. Many of my Facebook friends are runners so I thought I would share my observations.

And now I share them with you. You may see something familiar in this list and also think of many things that can be added. It’s all part of the experience! So here it is.....

Lessons learned from my first marathon:

  1. Avoid the smelly guy in the starting corral. If he smells that bad before the race, it’s not going to get any better.
  2. In a big, urban race, be prepared to spend the first 10 miles looking at the ground directly in front of you to avoid uneven pavement and to prevent being taken out by the spastic runner who has forgotten there are many more miles to go. 
  3. Never underestimate the motivational value of a perfectly timed University of Memphis fight song or Metallica riff. 
  4. Pretend like everyone is cheering for you...unless you happen to be running next to the visually impaired runner, the lady running with a leg prosthetic, the guy running with an American flag, or the guy bouncing two basketballs while he runs. Then join everyone else in cheering for them.
  5. Temporary tattoos are not just for kids! Especially if it’s a 5-inch long pacing tattoo. (Two weeks later and I’m still wearing mine. Yeah, it just looks like I’m
    dirty now, but I don’t care! I earned this!)
  6. You will probably cry (or a least tear up) at some point during the race. 
  7. Seeing your family at Mile 25 will carry you to the end. 
  8. At Mile 25.5, go after the seemingly less athletic man or woman who passed you around Mile 22! 
  9. If the old lady placing the medal around your neck asks you if you need a hug, say YES, because you do! 
  10. Running a marathon is one of the most difficult things I have ever done and will definitely do again....... (They don’t give epidurals during the race although I felt like I needed one the day after.) 
  11. In fact, I was only 11 minutes off a BQ...Anyone know of a good spring marathon? ;-) 


  1. Amazing teacher! Amazing mom! Amazing friend! And Amazing runner!!!!

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  3. I should mention that the half marathon training that started this whole crazy adventure was Tony Ludlow's USMC Fitness Boot Camp. It's a great atmosphere to train in!