I recently gave some advice to a new member of the blogger group I'm setting up. His name is Tom and he's running the Green Mountain Marathon this morning in Vermont. I hope this advice helps him and others run a great marathon. Good luck, Tom!
1) Forget about the racing flats. Run with the shoes you've been doing long runs with-the good pair-the ones you like that aren't worn too much, but are broken in so you won't worry about heal pain from rubbing etc.;
2) Start drinking electrolytes and other fluids several days before and up to race day;
3)Don't pee in public unless its during the race. Find some trees that provide some privacy or preferably use a porta-potty;
4)If you're doing this for the first time your goal should be just to finish. For more advanced runners, I recommend running conservatively for the first 14 miles. (30 to 60 seconds per mile slower than your goal pace) My experience has been that you lose most of your time in the last 10K if you go out too fast. Plus, it feels good when you start passing people who didn't run conservatively;
5)Don't-I repeat-don't-I repeat-don't go out fast. Try running with someone who's going slower than you were planning to go and talk. In other words, just enjoy being out there. Does he or she have kids? How many do they have? I think you get my point. This takes some of the stress of the race off and you will pass the time quicker than you would have thought. Get to the twenty mile mark and have something left because you conserved energy during the earlier miles;
6) Eat pasta the afternoon or night before the race, but don't eat too much;
7) You're probably going to sleep less the night before the marathon so rest a lot the day before the race. Don't spent the day walking around, cutting the lawn etc... Just vegetate and get some R and R on that day if you can.
8) This was specific for Tom, but you can adjust your times accordingly. He did some of his long runs at a 6:30 pace. The 6:30 min/mile for long distance is pretty fast. That's a 2:50 marathon- a time that is difficult for even experienced young marathoners. I'd forget about that pace. Start out doing 7:35-7:45 min./mile and pick it up after 15 or 16 miles. That's a 3:16 marathon pace- not bad for a first time. If you can manage that and you have a lot left, try to run the last 10K in about 43 to 44 minutes. That's just over 7:00 min./mile pace. You'll negative split if you do that, which is always good.
9) As soon as you feel the need to pee, do it-don't wait. You'll save time in the long run by stopping.
10)For cooler fall marathons, wear tights if you have them, several coolmax layers on top, thin gloves, and a baseball cap. Old clothes can be shed if you get hot. Use Vaseline under your armpits, nipples and between your legs.
11) Borrow a more dependable car to get to the race if you can so that isn't a worry. What I mean here is try to minimize anything that stresses you out prior to race day.
12) Take in fluids and gels every 30 minute or so during the race. It should be the stuff you've been practicing with-nothing new. Put some stuff you like in your pocket in case you want something and you're away from a water station.