Do not be discouraged if the race does not go the way you think it will. Remember what an accomplishment it is getting to the start!
In my opinion, the biggest accomplishment of a marathon isn't necessarily the end result at the finish line (although that is a HUGE freaking accomplishment). The BIGGEST accomplishment of a marathon is completing the training to get there in the first place. Non-runners are impressed that you ran 26.2 miles (heck, runners are impressed you ran 26.2 miles!). What many don't realize is the sheer volume of training that goes along with just getting to the starting line. It is not necessarily athletic prowess that makes a marathoner..... it is determination, commitment and time (not to mention the ability to stay injury free!).
My marathon didn't go exactly the way I had planned. I had trained for 10-minute-miles and finished with over 11-minute-miles (a pace I had never done in training). My twenty miler was a fantastic success while the marathon brought all sorts of issues long before the twenty mile mark. It was a while after the marathon before I stopped beating myself up over not finishing in 4:30. Even though I had tried to tell myself that my goal for my first marathon was just to finish, it was hard not to have a time in mind when my training had gone so well.
I originally wrote "don't be disappointed..." but changed it to discouraged. It is nearly impossible to stop yourself from being disappointed when things don't go your way. However, discouragement is a much more distructive emotion. Discouragement sometimes leads to giving up. What I have learned in my journey over this past year is not to give up. Running is a process with ups and downs.
Be proud of how far you have come and celebrate it!
***This post is inspired by Runners Lounge Take it and Run Thursday. This week they are asking loungers to write how to conquer the marathon in 26 words or less.