Terry went down to Georgia, he was looking for a PR to set.
He was in a bind ‘cos he was way behind: he was willin’ to take a bet.
Whether it’s your first, your 10th or your 100th, you will never leave a marathon without learning something. Sometimes it’s about you as a person, sometimes it’s about your running but after 26.2 miles you don’t away with nothing. You also can learn just as much from what you did right as from what you did wrong.
What I did right
Staying on the Plan: I had my plan and stuck to it. Even at the beginning when I wasn’t hitting the 9:00 pace, I didn’t worry and soon enough I was in a 9:15 pace that carried me through the first 20 miles. I didn’t sweat it when I was being passed by runners or I would runners ahead of me that appeared as if they shouldn’t be faster than me. So even though my plan didn’t unfold like I wanted it to, I did not readjust my strategy during the early parts of the race, I let it play out for the first few miles.
Gloves and my form: After I took my gloves off I proceeded to carry them, thinking I might need them again. I did, just not in the fashion that I thought. Towards the last 8 miles, I started to use the gloves as reminders for my form. What I noticed was that when I would carry one in each hand, my shoulders were relaxed. The Rule of Thumb for running form is to pretend you are holding a potato chip between your thumb and index finger. Instead of pretending to have potato chips, I was holding the gloves in this way and that relaxed my shoulders, reducing the tension in my body and helping with keeping my form in the last few miles.
I had been listening to a podcast that was talking about increasing speed during swimming isn’t always about power, it’s about swimming efficiently. The same thing is true for running. Having the right form, even if you are slowing down or hitting the wall, will conserve energy than running with poor form. So, by running with proper form, you can get further than if you ran with poor form.
What I did wrong
Food: I don’t think that I carbo loaded enough during the week and as My Lovely and Talented Wife pointed out, the night before. Also, in the morning I made some oatmeal and a waffle for the trip down. When I finally got off the interstate, I was actually hungry again. I could have eaten alot more oatmeal to keep me full during the trip down. I hadn’t made that long of a trip (1.5 hours) for a race before.
The level of soreness that I had on Sunday and Monday has been very surprising. I am sore, but not to the extent that I have been at other marathons. I have been walking without hobbling, I can walk straight downstairs (although it’s sore). I am very surprised at this because my legs from top to bottom were sore during the later stages of the race AND I sat in the car for 2 hours to drive back.
My conclusion is food related. That I had enough strength in my leg muscles that the distance wasn’t the problem, but that I didn’t have enough fuel in them to last. I only had about 20 miles worth of life in my legs, then managed to get 5 more miles out them, but then it was over. I have run other marathon where I only lasted until mile 16 and then it was a struggle until then.
What I Learned
So even though I didn’t eat enough on race day, I think the oveall change in my diet this year made up some of the difference on Saturday. One key thing to my diet has been drinking a vitamin enriched smoothie every morning consisting of Flax Oil (Omega 3,6&9), Frozen Blueberries, Soy Milk, and the Vitamin Smoothie Powder. Since I have been on the Gluten Free diet, my snacking has dropped some. Where I might have 2 donuts in the morning 2-3 times a week, I don’t do that anymore and some of the gluten food that is here at work are left untouched by me. Don’t get me wrong, I still eat my fair share of candy bars and other taste-good-bad-for-you stuff, it’s just now, I am more conscious about it.
I also added a tweak to my “Marathon Survival Mode.” When my legs start to fatigue to the point that I can’t go on, I stop to do a simple leg stretch that I learned at the 2002 Mardi Gras Marathon. From a standing position, you squat down (as if you were going to lay an egg) and stay there for about 5-10 seconds, then straighten from the waist and move to a position were you are touching your toes (or close to it). Then stand straight up and continue running. The first time that I did this at Chickamauga, I didn’t drop down as far and it felt pretty good. I’m thinking that given my inflexibility there is a threshold for how far I can go to where it changes from stretching the muscles to putting extra tension on the muscles.
I went back to my logbook and my average mileage for the last 14 weeks was 18.5 miles with weeks 11 & 12 being the highest at 29.10 and 29.25 miles respectively. This is very good news for me and breaking the 4 hour barrier. If I can run a 4:08 marathon with minimal discomfort (so far I have taken no pain medication) on an average of 18.5 miles a week, if I could train at the proper 30-40 miles per week, I would really do well.
The two questions are How Well? and When?. I’d have to start with When first. I do have to recover from this marathon first, this was not a training run. I did push myself and I am recovering and so I would need at least 4 weeks to fully recover and probably no more than 6 weeks. Now, I wouldn’t be sedentary during this time, I would be on a 4 or 6 week training schedule with another medium to long run (about 16 mile) thrown in there and then a taper. That would put me in Mid December to Late December, maybe even Early January.
Looking in my region, not many races fit in those parameters. 4 weeks out (Dec 8th) are: Huntsville, AL; Kiawah Island, SC; or Charlotte, NC and there is nothing really close anytime soon after that. I’ve decided that since I am prone to pneumonia in the late winter (feb/mar) that I wouldn’t train for a Feb or March marathon. I would participate in one if everything was right, but I’m not going to plan on a late fall/early spring marathon. It wouldn’t be until April or May that I would even look at the schedule for a pre-summer marathon.
Now, how well do I think I could do? I’d have to say around a 3:58. If I was able to get in good training like I have been up to Chickamauga, I’d say around 3:55. I think I could go out a little faster and hang on to the pace longer as well.
So on my quest for 50 States & DC and Boston Qualifying, I completed my 5th State (VA, SC, LA, TN, GA) and I only have to shave 52:39 off my marathon time to qualify for Boston.