I think I ran a smarter race this year. While every person’s experience with a marathon is unique, and each one of us needs to experiment to figure out what works best for us individually, I thought I’d share my analysis on the off chance that someone could learn something from it.
Hydration and Nutrition
I ran with orange-flavored G’ade Endurance Formula and took in about 45 ounces over the first 20 miles. I took in some water at the last 5-6 water stops, plus a small bottle of water that I picked up from the ‘race crew’ at mile 20. Overall, I drank LESS this year and as a result, felt much better during the final 10K of the race. (I drank about 30 ounces less than last year. Yikes.)
I took in TOO much fluid last year, which may explain why I craved SALT. (I wonder if the extra salt in the Endurance Formula also helped me avoid that this time.) I was so sick to my stomach last year and remember feeling ‘foggy-headed’ towards the end. Not good.
I really feel like I have a handle on hydration now – I just need to find a better way to carry it (I’ve tried a few options…by hand, waist-mounted CamelBak…but I hate having weight around my waist…).
I ate orange flavored Gu at Mile 6, Mile 12, Mile 18 and Mile 22. Gu worked better for me than PowerGel (and I went with the non-caffeinated this time too).
Since my stomach was feeling a lot better during the last 6 miles than it was last year, I was able to choke down that last gel, although the thought of eating anything other than oranges wasn’t very appealing. Seriously. Craved oranges.
This year’s schedule looked a lot like last year’s. I took Hal Higdon’s Intermediate One schedule and modified it a bit to suit my needs, especially since I was triathlon training and marathon training at the same time. The biggest difference was doing two 20-milers instead of just one (which was a big help!). Training felt GREAT too! Faster recovery, faster times.
Then, about seven weeks before the marathon, I got it in my head that I could shoot for a Boston Qualifying (BQ) time at the marathon. A BQ for my age group is 3:45 which is 17 minutes faster than my first (and only) marathon time. Based on some of the prediction calculators, a 3:45 was within reach for me.
The most appealing part of running Boston was the chance to run with Jeff again. I’ve never been one of those runner’s who gets excited about Boston and NYC. I respect those races as being hallmark marathons, but I don’t get overly excited about running with 30,000 people. I get easily frustrated in crowds. I’m certain that the energy level from the runners as well as the spectators is overwheling and this is certainly one aspect that has piqued my interest.
Now let me be honest. I knew when I started thinking about the BQ that I wasn’t trained for it and that it really was a ‘dream’ goal. I’ve never run more than 4 days a week during training, and I hadn’t been doing much speed work. I average around 25 miles per week, which is a good base, but not quite enough for a 17-minute PR. [Editor's clarification: 25 miles per week is the AVERAGE. During the peak of training, I did get into the 30's for a few weeks and had one 40-mile week.]
But I wanted to be confident in my abilities so I set my sights on the 3:45 anyways. I didn’t want to look back on the race and regret not trying. I also didn’t want everyone else to get too focused on my BQ goal, so I kept that goal to myself (tried to anyways). I didn’t want to cross the finish line and see disappointed faces and hear ‘Oh, too bad!’ I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. Finishing the marathon for the second time was going to be amazing. And I was certain that I would PR. So there should be no frowny-faces at the finish (there weren’t)!
And I’ve promised myself that I will not obsess over the 3:45. I really enjoy the challenge that the marathon presents, and I love the fact that I can actually SMILE when I’m out there. I refuse to let the joy getted sucked out by a silly number. I’ll train harder and smarter for the next marathon, but I refuse to let the 3:45 overshadow the experience for what it really means to me. I always want to be smiling when I cross the finish line.
What does this all mean?
I’m on the right track with the hydration and nutrition. For training, I need to add in speedwork, some longer long-runs and at least one more day of running each week.
It’s all a process, people.