Friday, December 2, 2016

First Marathon

Many of you know that I trained for my first marathon this summer, and successfully completed the Mo Cowbell on Oct 2nd.  If you are my friend on social media, you know that I LOVED it.  I felt great during the race, and afterwards too.  Here are some things I think I may have done right to make it such a fun experience:

Followed Training Plan

While many healthy adults could probably complete a marathon today if they had to, respecting the distance is crucial to finishing healthy and still walking tomorrow.  Overtraining and undertraining are the two leading causes of people needing to be pulled off the course.  While I didn't follow any one plan, I spent lots of time researching, and then I created a personalized schedule that worked for my timeline, and followed it faithfully.

Fueled Properly

As I mentioned, I was skeptical that I really needed to add in all the sugary fuel with the Gu and the Shotbloks and all that.  Because this was my first marathon, I decided to follow the traditional wisdom and use those things to fuel carefully, only on long runs and for the race itself, while I continued to keep it out of my diet otherwise.  That plan worked very well for me.  Starting four days before the race, I loaded up on a moderate amount of carbs, including some sugar.  The two days beforehand, I drank many, many Complete Hydrations in order to pre-hydrate with electrolytes. The night before, I stuck with my usual white rice (this time with pasta sauce and meat), along with several rice krispie treats :)  The morning of, I had white rice again, this time mixed with vanilla protein and milk (tastes like rice pudding!) and coffee, plus a few prophylactic Advil.  Right before the start, I took one Gu, and then I alternated Gu and Shotbloks (which I carried myself) every four miles (so 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24).  I took more Advil at mile 12.  I drank only water, which I also carried myself (in the Camelback), until mile 22 or so, when I took some Gatorade for fast sugar.  Overall, I felt great.  I arrived at the start feeling pretty overloaded with carbs and sugar, but I felt fantastic during the race and never hit the dreaded wall that we hear so much about.  Afterwards, I had the free Chiptole that the race offered in the VIP tent, and then later, another milkshake.    I really credit how well I felt to careful fueling, and carrying my own water.  Next time around, I want to try no-sugar, keto-style race.  I"ll let you know how that goes!

Took Good Care of Myself in the months leading up
Discussed here.

Asked for Advice

This might be one of the best things I did!  If only 1% of the world has successfully run a marathon, I seem to know a huge percentage of those people.  I asked for advice every chance I got, and everyone was so generous to share with me.  Thank you to each of you who took the time to help and encourage me!

Made Brand New Play List

I had been listening to podcasts and audio books during training runs, since I train alone.  But for the race itself, I made a huge playlist of songs that I loved, and I saved it for the big day.  It was SO motivating to be looking forward to each song for the entire race.

Ran My Own Race

This probably the advice I saw most often.  Besides the couple hundred other people marathoning that day, I ran with four friends.  We knew from the outset that we would not stay together, which was 100% good with all of us.  Based on training paces, I knew that I was probably going to be the slowest of the girls (and I was!).  It was really difficult to not want to speed up at the beginning to keep up, but I knew that finishing healthy was my first goal.  I had trained my long runs at about a 12:45 to 13:30 pace, and while I did end up running faster than that on race day, I forced myself to stick with my own pacing.  It is not easy on the pride, but I am glad that I did.

Did Not Push for a Time Goal

Because this was my first marathon, I worked really hard not to put any pressure on myself to finish faster than I had trained.  Everything I read said that during a training cycle, you can really only successfully focus on increasing distance, or speed, not both.  Obviously I was substantially growing my endurance and distance, so speed took a backseat.  I would love to cut about 30 minutes off my time next time around, but for my first time, I am glad I made myself take it slow!  I finished with no injuries, no lingering pain, no weak or exhausted feeling.  I actually felt pretty normal, with the exception of some muscle soreness.

Followed All Traditional Advice

If you spend ten minutes looking up marathon tips, you know all this: no new clothes or shoes, no new fuel or foods, don't go out too fast in the beginning (note: this is almost impossible).

All in all, my first marathon training cycle and the race itself were such an awesome goal to have taken on!  I am SO glad I jumped in and just made the decision that I could do it despite the short amount of training time.

What was the best advice you received about your first longer-distance race?  How did your training season go this year?