I think my first time falls into the category of "do as I say, not as I do."
New Years Day, 2000 - I was hideously unfit, and was turning 35 that June. I call my sister, who was turning 40 that year, and said jokingly, "let's do the marathon this year and prove we're still hot sh*t." She stupidly say YES, and away we go. Another sister decides to also run and she joins in the madness.
Of course, I couldn't run more than 3 or 4 minutes at a time, so slowly built up some fitness, dropped some weight, etc. June comes, I don't get into the marathon (stupid lottery), although my sisters do. I was working at Chase at the time (they were the marathon sponsor then), so I call up corporate events marketing and beg for a number, and they say they'll get back to me. In the meantime, I'm maybe running twice a week since I don't think I'm doing the marathon. Well, August rolls around, one of my brokers asks me if I can pull any strings to get HIM into the marathon - I call Corp events mktg again, and lo and behold, 2 days later - TWO guaranteed entry forms show up in interoffice, 1 for him, 1 for me. So it's mid-august and I'm 2 months behind on training.
Needless to say, I jump back into it... Shin splints for the month of September, they finally go away. Then October rolls around and I start having tiny bit of discomfort on outside of my left knee, nothing to slow me down or alter my gait, though, so I keep on training.
Oh, and I moved to Chicago during all this for a job - so was making trips back to NYC to meet my sisters for long training runs.
Well, race day comes and I'm pretty much in one piece. My 2 sisters and I start together. Lose Sis#1 around mile 8 when she runs ahead to find a portolet. Sis#2 stays w/ me until the half when I tell her to go ahead since I was holding her back. I get to the 59th Street Bridge, feeling ok and still running, but by the time I finish the mile-long downhill, my ITBS (undiagnosed at that time) has kicked in so bad that I'm pretty much doubled over in pain - equal in pain to when I broke my femur skiing. So I start walking at mile 16, try to run every once in a while, double over in pain again, keep walking. This continues for the last 10 miles and I finally finish the stupid thing in 6:17:xx.
Sounds like a cruddy day, huh? Well, it wasn't. It was an absolute BLAST.
I got the crappy result I absolutely deserved, but it was still a great day. Poorly trained, injured and in serious pain, finishing in the dusk - it was still a great day.
Would I ever go into another marathon w/ that little respect for the distance? No freakin' way.
p.s. I sidelined myself for FIVE months due to finishing the race w/ my stupid ITBS.