March 20, 2014 // 10:23 AM

Seven Tips to Get Ready for the Garden Spot Village Marathon

Written by Scott Miller

The 6th Annual Garden Spot Village Marathon and Half Marathon is coming up on Saturday April 12, 2014. If you have run our race you know we work very hard to make it as fun and enjoyable as possible. I was going to say “easy” but it’s not the easiest course in the world. People tell us they have run much more challenging courses but then we also make the top of the list for some people as the toughest. You run through the gorgeous farm lands of Lancaster County which means there are rolling hills. There is an especially challenging hill at mile 8 of the half and 22 of the full. Here are 7 tips to make your experience as enjoyable as possible.

1.     Register – if you have not registered, well, honestly that is step number one. You have to sign up. We do things a bit differently so, unlike many marathons/half marathons you can actually walk up and register for the full or half marathon at Packet Pick-up Friday night or starting at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning. If you are going to do that we suggest you do it Friday night. If you can’t make it Friday night get there as close to 6:30 a.m. as you possibly can. If it’s cold we’ll have a heated tent where you can hang out until the race begins.

2.     Pick Your Race Packet up Friday NightStay for Dinner. Friday is a great time to pick up your bib and other race materials. We host an all-you-can-eat pasta dinner and we get great reviews. It’s prepared by our fabulous dining services team so it isn’t catered or just thrown together at the last minute. We put a lot of time and effort into providing a fantastic carb loaded dinner. In addition, you can check out the location of the starting line and we’ll have a bunch of vendors at our Expo. It’s worth the trip.  Of course, if you just can’t make it Friday night. No worries, you can pick up your packet starting at 6:30 Saturday morning.

3.     Come For Breakfast. One of the most difficult things at a marathon is finding a good restaurant that is open early enough for breakfast. Not to worry. The SquireSide Café opens at 5:30 a.m. for breakfast on race day. It’s our Race Director’s favorite race day breakfast spot.  He shows up at 5:30, sits at the counter, and stays until about 6:00. A bunch of runners show up and it’s a great way to start the morning. Stop by for breakfast and say hello.

4.     Hope it’s Warm, Prepare for Cold. Last year was perfect, other years it’s been cold. Layer up. Our SAG teams sweep the course and pick up clothing. Of course we can’t guarantee it, but if you shed layers along the way there is a good chance you can stop by the bag drop area after the race and find your clothing. If not, we wash it (we have an industrial laundry on-site) and donate it to a local charity.

5.     Train Smart – Race Day is 4 weeks from this coming Saturday (March 22) which means this is the long run weekend before your taper. Train hard but train smart. We get a lot of e-mails from people who injure themselves during their long runs which takes them out of the game. The really unfortunate thing is this is the beginning of the running season so an injury now can ruin your entire year. There is a difference between being sore and having pain. If you’re experiencing pain don’t push the training into a full blown injury. Listen to your body and adjust.

6.     Put Some Hills in Your Training Plan – It’s a bit late but if you haven’t run any hills during your training do yourself a favor and add some in these final weeks. Again, don’t over do it but some hill work will serve you well. Of course you can always use the ulta-marathon strategy and walk the hills. There is no shame in slowing down on the uphill.

7.     Leave the Stress at Home – We want you to enjoy our race and so we go to a lot of trouble to make it as stress free as possible. When you arrive at our campus, parking attendants will direct you. You will find people holding “Information” signs. They are there to help. We put a few port-a-pots in the parking lot for those who have over hydrated on their drive. There are massages, showers and a hot-tub available after the race. Just come, have fun and enjoy the run!

We are a Boston qualifier and each year we get a number of first time marathoners or half marathoners and people who qualify for Boston. However, on the opposite end of the spectrum we welcome walkers and we keep the course open until the last person crosses the finish line. Fast or slow, young or old, serious or casual runner we welcome everyone. Each year we’re amazed at the energy and the excitement. Come experience it with us.

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