During Race Fuel
I can only speak from personal experience and advice I have received as it pertains to me. That is a long was of saying, you need to find out what works for you. If you have a sensitive stomach this may take some trial and error. Either way, be sure to try it out on your training runs. What works on a 5 mile run, may cause you to crash and burn at mile 20. I try to get some form of fuel in my body every 45 mins. Whether it is a energy gel (Chocolate Outrage Gu is my favorite), trail mix, pretzels, banana or sport beans. As you can guess, some of those are going to be difficult to find during an event, so make sure what ever you are trying during your run, you can carry or have access to during your event.
Tip: Again, I eat something every 45 mins. I carry Gu and sport beans in my water belt and that seems to hold me over. On training runs, I'll also eat trail mix or bananas if they can be stashed in the car. If you haven't tried energy gels, then don't go out and buy a box of a single flavor or brand. You are going to have to try and fail. LOL. Sorry. I love chocolate GU because I think it tastes like frosting. But here is a perfect example: I also like Vanilla by Cytomax, but don't care for GU's vanilla. So go to your local sports store and buy a couple to sample. Good luck.
The energy is inspiring. Everyone is stretching and anxiety is reaching it's peak. You give final hugs to your friends and cheers to the people around you. As the crowd starts to shift forward, the race begins and you are off. Here is the best advice you will ever receive for a long distance endurance run: DON'T GO OUT TOO FAST! It's an endurance run, not a sprint and unless you are clocking sub 5 min. miles, you most likely aren't going to win. But if you are used to running 10 min. miles and you get swept up with the crowd in the first 5 miles and have been running 9 min. miles you may fatigue your legs right out the gate.
Tip: The first 3 miles are going to be crowded and you are going to want to break away from the crowd by speeding up. Resist it. Stay on your pace. You are going to be out there for hours, so you can open it up later. I try to stay on my projected pace for the first half, regardless of how I feel. At the halfway point of any distance you can reevaluate and decide whether you want to pick up the pace. If it's a full marathon, this is how I break it down: stay on pace for the first 13.1 miles. If it means making a conscious effort to slow down my energy, so be it. I also stay on pace until 18 but may try to pick up 5-10 seconds for those 5 miles to put some time in the bank for the final stretch. Miles 18-20 is where the inevitable "WALL" comes into play. Run through it and move on. :) At mile 22 you should be able to tell if your pace is slowing or holding strong. If you are holding your pace and think you can pick it up, go for it.
They line the course with giant cameras and click away. If you see them in advance, straighten up, suck in the gut and either smile and wave, or look straight ahead "focused runner" style. I do a little bit of everything. I'll smile, wave, throw up a peace sign, open my mouth wide and point, whatever. I rarely buy the pictures, so i think it is great to capture how you feel at that moment. Of course the fun pictures for me are usually during the beginning of the course and the slow and lazy photos come later.
Tip: Have fun with it. If you see a camera, smile. Friends and family enjoy seeing you have a good time. You've trained hard for it, so enjoy it. Before the race, while you are in your start corrals, there will also be photographers getting before shots. These are great because you aren't sweaty, you are happy, and full of excitement for what is coming in the near future. Group with friends and get that "before" shot. You will be able to look up the photos based on your bib number online, so make sure it can be seen, otherwise you won't be able to find it. There will also be finish line photos, so when you cross that finish line, stand tall and proud. You crossed the finish line and completed what you set out to do. Way to go.
Finish Line Fun
You did it! Cool, huh? Check to see what the event will have at the finish line. Most should have a food area where you can grab fruit, bagels, water, etc. Grab them. You may not feel like eating or drinking them two minutes after you cross the line, but 20 mins. after they may be the best thing ever. If they have a place for you take a photo with your medal, stand in line and go for it. You dint have to buy the photo, but they are fun to at least look at online. If there are family reunion areas, you'll want to coordinate with your family and friends to meet up. Recently, beer gardens have become popular at events and if you are into it, it's great to partake in the fun. Some races also hold concerts with live music which is great to listen to while you bask in the glory of what you've accomplished.
Tip: None. You did it... well, I guess I have to say something. If you are feeling tight or sore, be sure to walk it out and stretch. Sitting down may be what you want to do, but you'll get even tighter if you stop moving, so take a few steps and allow your heart rate to calm down and catch your breath. If you are feeling pain in area or need to tend to an injury, visit the medical tent and they can help you out. Again, it's free, so swing by and get some ice or advice. Sorry, i guess that isn't "finish line fun" that more like "finish line pain," but I have a feeling you don't need tips on fun.