Second Marathon Lessons

Wow, I can’t believe I finished not one, but two marathons. A year ago, the first marathon was barely an idea in my head! Blows me away.

It’s definitely been a learning experience because these two races were worlds apart. The Spinx Run Fest Marathon was a small, local race with a few hundred finishers and the Country Music Marathon was a big ol’ thing.  And it definitely made me think that I wouldn’t do Spinx again.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love doing local races! There are huge pros, and for shorter races, I would much prefer them.  But having all the amenities for a big marathon was really awesome and the price difference was relatively small. I only paid $40 for Spinx, BUT that was only because I signed up way, way early and they were running a special. I checked the website and the regular cost for the Spinx Marathon was $75.  I paid $85 for the Country Music Marathon.  For $10? The on-course (and off-course) amenities were drastically different. So, pros and cons

For Spinx:

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  • Convenient location – start line was 3 miles from my home
  • Short drive meant getting to sleep in
  • Familiar with the course, since I live here 
  • Real bathrooms!
  • Post-race nap! In my own bed.
  • Greenville is pretty awesome
  • Oh, yea, it didn’t rain the whole time


  • Very few spectators – there were a few at the start/finish and some on Fuman’s campus, but that was about it.
  • There was a farmer’s market going on in TR…and random people wandering around on the course! I had to dodge little old ladies.
  • Few water stations – I’m so glad I had my camelback on this race, but I hate carrying it for races
  • The post race food was not great, and there was very little left by the time I finished.
  • Gu was promised, but not delivered! Not that I could have it, but still.
  • Great. Big. Hills. This is Greenville after all.
  • According to Jen, on the half marathon course, some of the volunteers/course monitors packed up and left early. Not cool.

For Nashville:

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  • Lots and lots of spectators. In the rain. Those are some dedicated folks. I didn’t realize how much of a difference this make until I experienced it!
  • Plenty of water on the course. I don’t mean the rain (but there was plenty of that). The water stops were smooth since there were tables on both sides of the roads, and I didn’t have to dodge people to grab a cup.
  • People handing out food on the course, outside of the official Gus! This was so nice. Plus, I was a little hungry, so a few orange slices went a long way
  • Pre/Post race food was great. I think I ate 5 bananas on Saturday. No, I’m sure. 5.
  • Wave start was really well organized
  • Not as hilly as Greenville!
  • Fun little vacation weekend


  • We had to drive really far to get there. This definitely required more logistics with packing, driving, food, etc. There are not many “big” races nearby
  • Total cost is higher since we had to pay for gas, hotel, parking, and food.
  • Early, early wake up to get to the race on time.
  • Port-a-potties. Yuck.
  • There was too much water on the course. I mean this literally; some of the roads were flooded. That’s not really the race director’s fault, but I still didn’t like it!
  • Doing touristy things post-marathon is painful!
  • The post-race party had pretty much disappeared by the time I fininshed

So, those are my thoughts, race-wise.  My next marathon is Kiawah, which is a smaller race, but not super small. I was generally happy with the half, so it seems promising for the full. I won’t be doing another one until then, since I really want to focus on it as an “A” race since it’s such a PR friendly course.

I definitely still have some things to learn about running marathons. Like how to not have to go to the bathroom mid-race. But I also need to figure out how to really race it. I really think I could do better, especially since I wasn’t sore much at all after this race. So learning how to suck it up and finish strong will definitely be a focus for my training this summer. Any other tips for my marathoning future?


About Steph

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6 Responses to Second Marathon Lessons

  1. Mary says:

    I’m literally just about to run my second marathon, although I’m running the same marathon again and I intend on running a very different marathon this Autumn for number three, as a completely different experience. I like your reflections on the differences between the two you’ve run.
    I’m interested to see what responses you get as I also need to learn how not to need the loo during long runs and how to race a strong marathon rather than just run it like another training run…I love the distance though…think I’m addicted!

    • Steph says:

      Good luck on your race! I hope you crush it. And if you discover the secret to not having to find a port-a-potty mid race, make sure to share it! Hah.

  2. Amy Lauren says:

    Let’s hang out when you come to Kiawah :). Maybe it’s in my marathon future too, who knows? Hehe. I’m glad you had fun at the Nashville marathon and it’s really neat that you did this comparison. I’m sorta wondering about my choice to do the full marathon at Darlington now just because it is such a small race? Maybe I should have chosen a bigger one, but I guess if it isn’t so much fun I can always train and do another full, we have a couple around CHS anyway.

    • Steph says:

      Definitely! I’ll want to spend the whole weekend down there for that race.

      I’m sure you will enjoy the smaller race! It’s not necessarily bad, just different. And you might prefer it, but it’s worth trying a big race later on if the first one goes well! Savannah would definitely be a good one, which is not too far. =)

  3. I prefer half marathons local and easy to get to.
    I do very few full marathons so I like to make them more of a big deal – I need the motivation.

    • Steph says:

      I think I’m with you here. The motivation of a big race helped so much, especially since my worthless iPod died. I’ll keep my halfs and under local =)

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