With all the provisions we take into a marathon, you’d think we’re preparing to head into the mountains for a six week journey of self realization. I spend at least 1 hour planning out my 3-4 hours on the marathon course the night before. And then several times in the weeks preceding, I have double checked my mental checklist of things to bring.
I lay out the gear the night before. God forbid I have one less GU packet than I thought I did. Panic! Without it, I may fade quicker than Ashlee Simpson’s music career. I pack my gear in my two side holster pockets (thanks Brooks Sherpa short!) and head out the door for the race. My pants are bulging. Well, they always are but particularly on race day. (bada dum dum!)
- PowerBar (consumed pre-race)
- 5 packets of GU (typically vanilla flavored. Not Vanilla flavored, mind you. Get your head out of the gutter)
- 2 Tylenol
- Electrolyte sport beans
- Garmin on the left arm
- Timex on the right arm as Garmin inevitably loses its signal
- One wrist sweatband
- Current issue of People
By the end of the race, I normally have some of the GU left over (1-2 packets). And usually the sport beans go uneaten. I almost never look at my copy of People. And from what aid station worker did I steal that watch cuz now I have three?
I see other runners with these utility belts loaded with water, Gatorade, and sports gel. This is probably a good idea but it seems so heavy and burdensome. I don’t want to wear something called a “belt” while running. Plus, I’m willing to gamble that the aid stations have water. If they don’t (see Chicago ’07), the race directors should be held up for public ridicule (see Chicago ’07) and floggings (see Grand Inquisition). I don’t know exactly what a “rack” is but it should be used on ‘em too. *
In a silly way, I look forward to each milestone where I get to extract one of my provisions and consume it. Somehow, I feel lighter. I’m carrying less. Of course, it’s just internal rather than external now but I feel 1/100th of a second faster per mile. Less wind resistance.
A few weeks back, I compared a marathon to the stages of a relationship. Maybe instead I should have compared it to a 5 course meal starting with the appetizer miles and ending, finally, with the dessert. In between, a whole bunch of grisly cube steak. And the ketchup ran out at mile 18. By mile 18, everything tastes like crap anyhow.
The only non-perishable item other than clothing I carry is a photo of my family I glue directly over my heart. This way, they are always close to me…That would be really sweet but I don’t do this. You don’t get this far in life being described as “belligerent” and “ego maniacal” and “not responding to therapy” to go and do something like that.
So what do YOU carry with you on the marathons (or half marathons or ultra marathons)? What works? What doesn’t but you carry it out of pure superstition anyway? Any good luck charms?
* Incidentally, why is it so bad to be “drawn and quartered”? I love a nice caricature of myself and, if you want to put me up for the night, fine also. Big deal.
Responding to recent comments:
In case I wasn’t clear, my new marathon race plan involves only two speeds: (1) Run and (2) Lying on the ground unconscious. It’s clear this body doesn’t respond well to walking rest breaks. Fortunately, it only cost me 3 major marathons and thousands of dollars to figure it out.
My daughter’s tooth is not chipped from my Boston medal. She has a black eye. No, see, I kid, I kid.
Kerrigan Knee Whackers sell for $19.95 at your local Assault Weaponry store.
Hooray! Hooray! My self imposed exile from running ends Sunday. I'll be hitting the streets with a big dumb ole smile on my face. Two weeks is a LONG time.