A veteran runner shares his 26.2 secrets for conquering the L.A. Marathon

Runners in the L.A. Marathon make their way down Santa Monica Boulevard at the 17th mile.
Runners in the L.A. Marathon make their way down Santa Monica Boulevard at the 17th mile.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

You dreamed big, you signed up and you trained hard. To help you crush it in Sunday’s L.A. Marathon, I’ve offered up 26.2 things to remember before, during and after the race. Don’t laugh if some of these seem obvious. I’ve done enough marathons to know that sometimes it’s the obvious things that can trip you up. The pros meticulously plan for their races. You should too.

1 — Start hydrating the day before the race. Take a few sips every hour.

2 — Saturday night, lay out your running outfit. Attach your bib to your shirt.

3 — Fully charge your devices (phone, GPS watch, music player).

4 — If you want ‘em, don’t forget sunglasses and a hat.

5 — Don’t race in anything you haven’t worn on a long training run.

6 — If you want people to cheer your name, Sharpie your name on your shirt.

7 — Plan a post-race feast. The thought of something wonderful to eat might help you get through a rough patch.

8 — Designate a spot to meet family and friends after the race.

9 — Set multiple alarms. If you’re not sure how many alarms to set, Google “Seinfeld marathon alarm.”

Make sure to set more than one alarm.
(Sung Yoon Jo / Getty Images/iStockphoto)

10 — Go to bed early. Don’t worry if you don’t get much sleep. That’s normal.

11 — When you first wake up, eat something but not too much.

12 — You do not want to experience inner thigh chafing! (Or chafing anywhere else.) I recommend Vaseline or Body Glide.

13 — Sunscreen neck, arms, legs and face.

14 — Lip screen too.

15 — Allow lots of time for traffic. Figure out the timing, then add an hour. It’s L.A., people.

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16 — If it’s an option for you, it works well to be dropped off at Dodger Stadium.

17 — Get in a Porta Potty line early! Trust me on this.

18 — Turn off the Auto Pause feature on your GPS watch. (If you don’t know what this means, don’t worry.)

19 — When the race starts, don’t try to pass people. Go with the flow.

Runners start in last year's L.A. Marathon at Dodger Stadium.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

20 — You will feel strong because of tapering, but resist the urge to charge in the first few miles. On Mile 20, you’ll be glad you did.

21 — The sun should be out Sunday. Look for shade along the course and run in it.

22 — Continue to hydrate. I take a few sips at every aid station.

23 — At the halfway point, take a deep breath. Look around. Isn’t this a cool place to be?

24 — In the second half, things will get uncomfortable. That’s OK. Use your mantra. You don’t have a mantra? You can borrow one of mine: If it were easy, anyone could do it.

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25 — Refrain from punching the clown at Mile 20 yelling, “Only six more miles to go!”

26 — Whatever you actually feel like, remember to smile at the finish line. You might be rewarded with a photo you’ll cherish the rest of your life.

We haven’t forgotten the .2 — After your triumph (this will be a triumph), wear your medal proudly. You’re a marathoner, and nobody can take that away from you!

The author, 63, lives in Moorpark. He is running his fifth L.A. marathon Sunday, his 37th overall. Next month he will run his 12th Boston Marathon.