3 • It does not hurt to have an iPod loaded with B.B. King tunes. (Favorite lyric? "I let you live in my penthouse, you said it was just a shack. I gave you seven children and now you want to give them back.")
4 • Speaking of which, how did people run marathons before iPods were invented?
5 • (BTW, I was the nutball singing along to "Viva Las Vegas" somewhere near mile 19.)
6 • People who cheer you on even if they don't know you make a big difference.
7 • People who cheer you on even if they DO know you make a big difference, too. (Thanks, Ken and Geoff. Thanks, Kim. Thanks, Mom and Dad.)
8 • Running 26.2 miles is as challenging mentally as it is physically.
9 • Still, it is totally, totally worth running that distance just to hear your teenage son say, "My mom is badass."
10 • You should look past the finish line when running the last four blocks. Otherwise the sight of it so near, yet so far away will make you crazy.
11 • Guys and their special guy "plumbing" have a distinct advantage over women on a long run.
12 • Running a marathon is hard. But giving birth is harder.
13 • I liked the advice given to me on the bus ride up the canyon by a woman who has run a number of marathons. "Enjoy every minute of your run the good, the bad and the ugly. And remember that the ugly always makes for a better story."
14 • When this same woman discovered I was a first-time marathoner, she predicted I would be planning my next marathon as soon as I crossed the finish line.
15 • She was wrong.
16 • The bonfires at the race's starting line were a nice touch.
17 • Same for the cold wet towels at the race's end.
18 • Is drinking milk right after a long race actually good for you? I seriously want to know, so please advise.
19 • The race does, in fact, go to the swift. And to the nonswift, too.
20 • People have asked why I wanted to run a marathon in the first place, because running that far is crazy. I had my reasons, including this: I want my kids to know that I can do hard things. And they can, too.
21 • Even though in the interest of full disclosure I also had to tell them I finished in the bottom 10 percent.
22 • BUT COME ON, DUDES! I finished! And not on a stretcher!
23 • However, I do think it's possible I was underprepared for the experience.
24 • But then I am always underprepared.
25 • For everything.
26 • Which is why everything in life always takes me by surprise! Like that hill at mile seven.
27 • One of my favorite sights? A guy running shirtless with the words "Just Married" scrawled across his back like he was a human rear window.
28 • As it turns out, running the actual marathon is easier than training for it.
29 • But still. It's obvious I ain't 23 years old anymore.
30 • Thank goodness.
Ann Cannon can be reached at email@example.com or facebook.com/anncannontrib.