My First Marathon: Part 2
Ok, so the marathon is over and I was extremely pleased with my time. My goal was under 4 hours and I came in at 3:52.25. Officially part of the 4 and under club! I felt great the first 17 miles. I went out fast...really fast. I know myself as a runner. I knew that my second half was going to be far slower than my first and I need to take advantage of my speed up front. If I played it safe and still died at the halfway mark, I was screwed. I will say, that I really underestimated how hard the second half would be. Miles 17 - 22 were just brutal. At mile 19, all of a sudden, it felt like someone stabbed me in my big toe. Absolutely awful. I stopped and readjusted my foot in my shoe. It didn't feel any better, so I just had to suck it up and keep going. Turns out I had a huge blood blister that burst (another reason I'm glad that I didn't do any distances longer than a half marathon in my training). No bathroom breaks, stopping or walking, except for a few times to really take advantage of the water stations instead of just having it splash all over me as I ran. I didn't have any cramping or injure (I use that term loosely) anything. The last 10K is when I really saw people dropping like flies. After running 20 miles, another 6.2 didn't seem like that big of a deal. Everyone had told me the last 4 miles were down hill. BS...total BS!!! I don't know what their definition of "downhill" is, but it is wildly different from mine and those last two miles were there longest two miles of my life.
THE AFTERMATH - The two days following the marathon were rough. Going down stairs happened in reverse, a great tip given to me by someone who has been there, done that. Too painful in the quads to attempt going down regularly. You looks nuts, but at that point, it's the least of your worries. My feet hurt. Blisters on 4 toes and I'm pretty sure I'm going to lose a toenail. Personally, I wasn't that sore in the hip flexors, which surprised me. But oh my Lord, my abductors were killing me! That is a lot of booty to move for 26 miles and I think I might have pulled my gluteus medius and/or gluteus minimus. My left knee was very sore. I had a little tweak there going into the race, so it's no surprise that it didn't feel great after. The afternoon following the race I took an ice bath. 15 min in, 15 min out, then another 10 in. I'm not going to lie, it was awful, but probably really saved me. Day 2 after the marathon, I got a sports massage, lightly foam rolled and took an Epsom salt soak. By day 3, I was walking fairly normally, took the stairs like a big girl and could even bend down to tie my own shoes (which I found impressive). I also plan to start cryotherapy for my knees. I have another race in 3 weeks and I need to get back to running ASAP.
NUTRITION - Two nights before the race I did my carb loading. Enjoy this part, it's extremely rewarding in both the physical and psychological sense. I was really, really looking forward to it. I crushed a whole pizza myself. I also may or may not have eaten a bag of M&Ms for dinner the night before the race. Don't judge me. When you eat is also just as important as what you eat. It takes your body a long time to break down complex carbohydrates (ie: pasta, bread, potatoes, oats, etc) to convert into energy, so make sure you're consuming those at least 36-48 hours in advance. The simple sugars (ie: sugar, honey, fruit, etc) your body will use right away. Morning of, I ate as I normally would. Egg white omelet, oatmeal with berries and tea. This is not the day to try out something new. I ate about two hours before the race so I had enough time to let it settle. During the race I had packed some Clif Shot Blocks into my sport belt. I prefer the blocks vs the regular shots, less gritty and doesn't give you quite as much cotton mouth. I popped 3 blocks every 6 miles or so.
HYDRATION - In my opinion this is the biggest make or break you preparation step. The three days leading up to the marathon is the time where you need to be consuming a ton of water. If you're not hydrated the night before the race, drinking a lot of water the morning of is not going to help you. I drink about 4 liters of water a day. I add some electrolytes in to help the body retain the hydration. Post workout I used NutriForce Balanced Hydration and just throughout the day I would add 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar per 1.5L of water. Tastes a little funny, but worth it. I took advantage of most of the water stations during the race. It was record high heat that day, so they had them set up every mile. A friend also passed me a small coconut water ( great for the potassium) bottle at mile 15, which was nice because, I could run with it and not have it splash everywhere. I dropped a salt tab in it as well. I grabbed a sip or two of Gatorade every 6 miles or so, but suck mostly to water.
SUMMARY - I'm really glad I did it. It was extremely rewarding to finish with such a strong time. The LA Marathon gave me a whole new appreciation for Los Angeles. It felt like the whole city came out to support us, which makes all the difference in a race that is just as mentally grueling as it is physically. That being said, I think this will be my first and last marathon. I DO NOT feel the need to do that again. My body is not meant to run that far and the recovery process is less than enjoyable, but it's all part of the experience, I suppose.