It was an interesting weekend, I’ll say that. I’m still exhausted. 🙂 Instead of a chronological account of everything, I feel like I need to do this in categories, because it was the best and worst of times… at times.
Pre Race Nutrition: A+
I think I’ve figured out the optimal day before and morning of nutrition.
- Day before breakfast: something hearty that makes the stomach happy. More like 500 calories rather than my normal 200-300. I had leftover “light take” chicken parm and it was spectacular. Pretty sure a bagel with turkey sausage and cream cheese would be a good go to as well, since I probably won’t luck out and have leftover chicken parm again.
- Lunch: I wasn’t feeling that hungry after the big breakfast, so I went for a 6 inch turkey no mayo no cheese with baked chips and a powerade.
- Snacks: Random pretzels and baked cheetos and some jerky while driving there and navigating to packet pick up.
- Dinner: My tried and true – salad, chicken, and mashed potatoes (above). We went to Omega Grill and it was one of the best pieces of chicken I have ever had.
- Race day breakfast: two belvita breakfast cookies with a slather of chocolate almond butter and two caffinated powerbar chews.
I felt topped off but not sick. A little caffeinated, but not jittery. I was able to use the bathroom before the race and didn’t have to stop during. If nothing else went right this race, it’s really nice to have a pre-race routine that rocked, because that’s been hit or miss lately.
Race Nutrition: B
I took all the gels I had, and expected to potentially pick one up at the gel stop around 20 or grab an extra somewhere if I needed it. Well, they were out of gels, and the only food offered to me was a tub of PB. Hmmm, no thanks, I’ve never had that while running. I made sure to get extra gatorades and I think I did fine, but I did feel a TOUCH lightheaded for a sec around mile 21-ish. Next time, bring the extra gel just in case.
Post Race Nutrition: B
It always goes water, gatorade, then beer, and this was no exception. The food tent was a little sparse by the time I got there, but they had garlic toast left, and I think I crammed them two pieces in my mouth before I chewed anything. On the walk home we picked up some Taco Bell, which I usually think is the nastiest thing in the world, but that Quesalupa was LIFE.
Since then I’ve just kind of made sure to eat something every few hours. I haven’t gotten to the point of getting so hungry I’m shaking, and I also haven’t felt like I’ve eaten like an asshole, though I have had 4 different fried things already today and it’s lunch, so maybe that isn’t entirely true. The QUANTITY hasn’t been assholish, but the quality kinda has been.
We had a few adult bevvies with dinner post marathon, but actually saved the CELEBRATION for the next day, which I actually think worked out better for recovery.
Gear minus my shoes: A
I know I can buy contact lenses easily for the race, but I wore new sunglasses instead (I know, I know, nothing new the day of the race…), and they worked out great, thankfully. I wore the same tried and true kit I wore at SpaceCoast, down to the same socks (but probably not underwear). I lubed up enough so I got almost ZERO chafing, and that’s pretty damn impressive for a warm marathon. I missed a few spots with the sunscreen, but I got most of the surface area and it stayed put. I’m sold on the race belt for my number thing now. It looks a little doofy but it’s SO nice to have space for gels.
I barely passed them because they got me to the end of the race, but I think it might have been IN SPITE of that, and I might have been better off barefoot. My entire left arch and left toe have become blisters, not those cute ones you just notice after you finish a run, but the kind that show up at mile 10 and go, hey lady, you have to run 16 more miles, fuck you. I got a blood blister on my right foot as well. Sorry Clifton 2s, you’re shit and I’m donating you and never running in you again (though I’ll probably still go for another pair of Hokas, just not THOSE).
Lesson learned: when your shoes just don’t work out, it’s not worth toughing out a season in them hoping they get better. Live, learn, use them for short runs and buy more shoes. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure this was part of my hip problem, and I’m hoping that staying out of them for the next 2 weeks/rest of my life will prove that.
My actual race performance: D
Here’s that bit where I usually focus on and it really is a small part of Saturday’s story. I held sub-5 hour pace through mile 11, where it became abundantly clear to me that my body was not going to continue with that much longer. The hammies and glutes cramping started at mile 5 and never got better, even though I shoved 303s (herbal muscle relaxers), caffiene, and the super electrolyte gel.
I was able to keep it under control at first by backing off the pace by a little up hills, but once the blisters kicked in, my gait adjusted, and other things started to hurt too. I went from a goal of 4:59:59 to hoping I would be able to finish before I was swept off the course because there was very little running left in my legs even before I hit the halfway mark.
My attitude: A
I won’t give myself a plus here, because there were a few miles in which I really did contemplate DNFing, but it was more along the lines of adhering to my c goal, which was do no lasting harm to my body.
I started with a true open mind, ready to take whatever cards the day gave me and make the best of it. If my body said running the whole thing was possible, I was ready to go all in. Until it became obvious that it was time to fold. (ok, I’ve finished with the poker metaphors here, moving on)
I was a little salty with myself at first, but it became crystal clear very quickly that my mind was not giving up. It was my body. This was not my day. And that became OK. I decided I wanted my finisher shirt so I was going to continue until either I could not go forward without risking further injury or I was pulled from the course.
Then, I realized, I had no idea what to do with myself for the amount of time I realized I was going to be on course. I only had a ~2 hour music playlist I planned on bringing out at mile 13, and it was weird hearing all these super pump up songs while I was intentionally walking, not out of failure, but preservation. I had no concept of intentionally taking 6 hours-ish to complete a marathon and being ok with it.
And then I ended up walking next to and met… Aubrey? I think? Marathon brain. And we talked for a few miles about other marathons and training and all sorts of random stuff. I started to feel better and told her I was going to run a bit and I hope she’d catch up with me later. Sadly, I didn’t see her again, but I hope she had a great day!
Between the blisters and the other pains, it was more painful to START running than anything, so once I got going, I tried to keep it up as long as I could, because the walk breaks had to be long too with the blisters and the cramping.
After 30k, I made a turn and there was a spectator that I thought was being super nice, talking and encouraging me and offering me food. Then I realized that she was talking to the gal behind me. Embarrassing! However, I made friends with both of them (Sadie! I remembered a name of someone I met that late in the marathon!) and we walked and ran a bit together through early 20s, until I decided that we were probably holding each other back enjoying our walk and talk, so I decided to run ahead and we ping ponged back and forth until the end.
I figured a little more running couldn’t hurt, so I ran the last mile and a half and made it to the end. I found Zliten and said something like “I finished! I made friends! I can has offseason now!”, to which I’m sure he was super happy not to have to deal with a super pissed off emotional mess, which I was absolutely not. I came in with hope for a great day but I was absolutely prepared for many situations, and finishing in about 6 hours was absolutely not the worst of them.
Proof I was hoping for the best!
Body Condition After: D
Let me tell you, walking most of the second half of a marathon was no easier on me than running the full race last year, probably WORSE. I won’t say this is the sorest I’ve ever been in my life, but I wouldn’t necessarily say I can remember ever being more creaky 2 days removed from any race yet. I went from baby giraffe on day 1 of life, to baby giraffe on day 2, and today, I feel as if I can upgrade my condition to old man with a walker.
There is no ANNOYINGLY FINE going on here. I am physically and mentally spent.
Course: B-. The elevation profile makes it look deceptively flat, which is in the sense that there are no big hills, but you are always going up or down. Not my favorite. However, you get to run through the woods. It’s gorgeous. I can train differently to make the hill problem go away so it’s not a dealbreaker.
Course Support: B. They never ran out of water/gatorade, which was solid, but being out of gels at mile 20 sucked. They extended the cutoff because it was warm, which was nice of them, and even finishing at 6 hours, I felt like they were still supporting the back of the packers well.
Spectator Support: A. The course is one loop, but it seemed like it was fairly easy to get around, because I saw many people cheering multiple times. The town really comes out to cheer people on! It’s awesome!
Hotel: A. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn. It was about half a mile from the race start – perfect warmup walk, and painful cooldown but probably actually probably great for me in the long run hobble back from the race. The restaurant had great food in a pinch when we were too… marathoned to go anywhere else for dinner. It was extremely QUIET and the room was comfortable, and I got decent pre-race sleep and AWESOME post race sleep, and both of those are hit or miss.
All’s well that ends well. It’s done. I’m FREE. It’s offseason. Cheers to that. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been less sad not to be training for something.
While I gave marathons up about 20 billion times on the course, I can’t 100% be done with them forever. Zliten had a great day and beat my PR by like 40 seconds. I will qualify that it was on a slightly short course though – I registered 26.08, he registered 26.0 – so the jury is out whether it ACTUALLY counts as a house PR. We’ll leave it at that and say we both have the pleasure/pain of running 5 hour + a few seconds marathon times.
And, sure, there’s a voice in my head that wishes I could have been dealt some different cards, but that is just not how the day played out. And I am TOTALLY ok with it. Frankly, I’m just ready for this blog post to be over, because I’m so super excited about moving on and what’s next.
It’s time to heal, it’s time to rest, it’s time to grow (and shrink) in other areas, it’s time to fix things, and it’s time to do something completely different. I’m SO pumped about this. #projectspring, GO!