Let me start out with, you will never be prepared for your first marathon. Ever. No matter how corny people sound when they tell you that running your first marathon will change you, it is true. Believe in the corny. I woke up the morning of my first marathon puking. I wasn't nervous until every time I tried to eat I wanted to vomit because I was so nervous.
So here is how to properly prepare for your first marathon because I sure as heck wasn't prepared:
1.) Understand now that it's okay to be afraid: I joked with people telling them that I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to finish. Honestly, I was terrified that i wasn't going to finish. Like I said before, I woke up vomiting the morning of my first marathon.
2.) Don't eat the Sushi: Um, I'm not kidding. I ate sushi the night before my first marathon. No matter how many posts I read that said "DO NOT EAT ANYTHING NEW!" I totally ate something new and it was sushi. Maybe it was my body being stressed out and craving to eat something weird. I don't know but I do know that I'll never part take in that awesomeness again. I really did wake up puking the morning of my first marathon, maybe it was the sushi, maybe it was nerves, maybe it was because I was so hungry because sushi didn't really fill me up. I don't know but i will never, ever do it again. I promise.
3.) Don't drink two bottles of water before you start running: Yep, totally did that one too. My running partner and I had to pee within the first mile and it was the "I'm nervous pee." It was the "If I don't find the porta potty I'm pissing my pants with pride." Next time I'll pee myself because we stood in line and knocked us back 20-30 minutes but we both really had to go! No matter how many articles tell you that you need to be properly hydrated before a race, two bottles is not the answer. I even drank over a gallon of water the day before. There will also be more than enough water on the route.
4.) You'll feel awesome at mile 16 but by mile 19 you'll hate your life: All I remember is saying out loud,"10 more miles, I can totally do this." And somehow 3 miles later I was praying that it would all end soon. I also remember saying that I would never sign up for another one again and somehow by the Wednesday after it I was contemplating which one I wanted to run. (Incase you're wondering, I chose Columbus 26.2 for October 2015)
5.) Be okay with not being prepared: You will have your outfit laid out and instagramed the night before, the perfect breakfast ready, you won't hit any traffic getting into the city, but the second that your husband kisses you goodbye at the gate, you're going to cry like a little baby wishing you had never signed up. RELAX, BREATHE, STOP BEING DRAMATIC. Surprisingly enough, most big races that you sign up for are extremely organized and have an area sectioned off by letters of your name so you can find your family afterward. You will find him. You will be alive at the end. He will not leave you. I never take my phone with me and I always manage to find my husband afterwards. Even if there are over 30,000 runner and 100,000 spectators, we find each other. I think the scariest part of my marathon was leaving my husband because one my very last 20 mile run before my first marathon he road his bike beside me. I felt prepared and like I could do it. That is, until he wasn't there.
Before my first marathon I had no idea what to expect. You are going to be scared, nervous, and excited. Take this time to enjoy the process. You are going to learn more about what you love(sometimes who you love), what you hate(Sometimes who you hate), you'll find out what triggers your emotions and how much you really want something. There are going to be friends that come and go during the season but the ones that hang around and show up for race day are the ones worth keeping. Trust yourself, trust the process, and know that it's okay to cry. It's okay to be so happy that you cry and it's okay to have such a bad day that you cry. You'll have bad days and good days. The people you need most will be there for you.
The only advice that I can really give is this: Train. Train hard or train easy. Lay your outfit out the night before, don't eat the sushi, listen to your body, and know that when you kiss your spouse good bye that you'll both make it to the finish line.