We are about to get into the car and start heading towards Pittsburgh, and I thought it would be helpful to share what I’m packing for the race! I remember I was really nervous before my first marathon that I was going to forget something important, so I went over my packing list again and again the week before and would get up in the middle of the night to put something else into the suitcase! But practice makes perfect, and now that I have several races under my belt, I know exactly what I need and it doesn’t take me long to get the essentials together. Here’s what’s going into the suitcase!
Pittsburgh Marathon Packing List
Race Clothes: shorts/ t-shirt/ bra, sunglasses, socks, hat. SNEAKERS. I’m also bringing a light rain jacket because it looks like it might rain during the race
Throw-Away Clothes: to wear before the race on top of my racing clothes and toss at the start of the race (it’ll be in the forties, windy and raining Sunday morning). Tip: try a trash bag with a hole for your head/ arms, or get cheap sweatshirts/ pants from Goodwill!
Race Gear: Garmin watch, mp3 player, headphones, and Nathan Gel pouch stuffed with 5 Powerbar gels (strawberry banana). Chargers for everything.
Race “Protection”: Sunscreen, anti-chafe balm, blister prevention (I’m doing gel squares with medical tape), and KT tape
For the Bag Drop: tissues and antibacterial gel for the port-o-potties (I’ve been there when they run out of both), small camera for pre/ post-race pics, flip flops and warm clothes to change into after the race, wipes and towel for after the race (I’m going to borrow a towel from the hotel, shhh)
Post-Race Recovery: ibuprofen, biofreeze/ bengay, gauze and medical tape (in case I get bad blisters). Compression socks, Compex and spiky ball for rolling my foot
Hydration and Fueling (before and after): Water bottle to drink water all weekend and snacks for the car ride after: bananas, pretzels, coconut water. Instant coffee (for race morning!).
Here’s a few things to think about when packing:
– What’s the weather going to be like on race day? For the marathon itself, unless the conditions look really cold or wet, it’s best to wear less than more because you’ll heat up pretty quickly once you start running! But if it’s going to be cold before the race, you want to have an extra layer on so you’re not expending energy trying to keep warm. And it’s a good idea to have clothes to change into for right after the race since you’ll be soaked in sweat and will get cold very quickly.
– What will you eat for breakfast before the race? Hopefully, you’ll have figured out on your long run days what breakfast is easily digestible and energizing. If you need some coffee, make sure you’ll have coffee. If you know that you have to eat something specific because everything else upsets your stomach, make sure you’ll be able to buy it or bring it from home. I’ll be grabbing a bagel on Saturday so I have it Sunday morning, and I’ll also eat a banana and drink a little coffee and be ready to go :)
– Are you traveling by plane? You might want to pack the stuff you NEED for the race (clothes, sneakers, etc) in a carry-on, in case the airline loses your luggage. Not to freak you out or anything.
I should also mention that I always carry melatonin or Ambien to help me sleep the night before the race, and I’ve seen others mention packing an eye mask and earplugs for the same reason. If you find you can’t sleep the night before though, don’t freak out – as long as you sleep pretty well the week leading up to the race, you should be okay!
How I’m Feeling
I’m not feeling too nervous right now, and I think that’s because I don’t have a goal I HAVE to meet in mind. Yes, I’d love to get close to 4 hours, and I’d be disappointed if I don’t beat my first marathon time because I think I’m a much stronger runner now. But I also know that my performance will depend on factors I largely can’t control, like the weather, the course, and how my body is feeling on race day, and I’m ready to adapt my goals and strategy during the race as I need to.
That said, I’m excited! I’m pretty certain that I’ll be able to finish the race at the very least, so in a few days, I’ll be a two-time marathoner! I’m also excited to push myself to my limits and see what I’m capable of on Sunday. I’ve been reading ultramarathoner Scott Jurek’s autobiography Eat and Run over the past couple of days and I’m so inspired by his determination to push through all his limits – he won the Western States 100 miler on a blown ankle!! He considers the marathon to be his “warm-up” distance, so it’s a little hard to get freaked out in light of his perspective (although it’s certainly not a warm up for me…).
Thank you all for your kind comments and reassurance a few days ago when I was nervous that I hadn’t trained enough during the taper. You’re absolutely right – I’ve been training since January for this, I got in plenty of long runs (and two 20 milers) this cycle – I’m ready. Pittsburgh, here I come!