“All PRs are good PRs” has been my mantra since I finished this race. I did run a PR–a 3:35:40. (Probably. That’s what the text tracking and my watch said. Official race results say 3:34:53, which, ??) And given everything that went wrong, it’s amazing I managed that at all.
What’s frustrating is that I am so, so much fitter than that. I really am! For once in my marathoning life, I know that my result was not related to my fitness but to a couple other factors, to be discussed below. But first:
The Thing That Worked Well
My new day-before-the-race fueling plan! Instead of loading up on pasta and bread the night before, I had white rice with salmon. (This recipe, specifically. Highly recommended.) I also made some changes to what I ate for breakfast and lunch.
The result? My race-morning bathroom trips were drastically reduced. On bad days before, I would need two hands to count the number of visits. Yesterday? I only went twice. I arrived at the start line feeling hydrated and ready to go. It’s a nutritional miracle!
I used to think, “Wow, my race-day nerves are really bad.” Now I am like, “Duh. Why did I never consider what I was eating?” So, one piece of the puzzle officially in place for next time.
1) Lack of Sleep: I woke up after about four hours of sleep Friday night and couldn’t get back, and Saturday, I just could not fall asleep. I might have gotten two hours, tops, that night. Ugh, right?
At first, I feared I was just becoming an insomniac, but I think I figured it out since. When I woke up Friday, I started reading on my Kindle Paperwhite, and I read that before I tried to sleep on Saturday. (Plus several times in the dark in the middle of the night, in attempts to get to sleep.) For some reason, I thought the light from that screen was OK at night, but turns out, it’s the same kind of light as an iPhone/iPad, just positioned differently.
I’d read on this before bed before and never noticed a difference, but perhaps it’s why I often wake up in the middle of the night. And perhaps it’s a definite no-go when I have a big race coming up and sleeping will be more difficult anyway.
2) THE STUPIDEST MISTAKE: I will blame this decision on my sleep-deprived brain.
I drink Nuun pretty often, but never before or during a run.
When I woke up exhausted before the race, I thought, “I’ll just have one of those Nuun Energy tabs in my first glass of water this morning. That should help.”
NOPE. NOPE. NOPE. The bubbly water made my stomach churn almost immediately, yet I finished the whole glass, thinking, “I need a little hit of caffeine or I’m never going to make it.” NOPE. NOPE. NOPE. STUPID.
3) I probably should have carried my own water bottle during this race instead of relying on the water stops (since that’s what I do during training).
4) This didn’t affect the race, but my newish shoes were DEFINITELY not broken in enough. Hellooooo, black toenail. (On my big toe!) It hurts. I will spare you a photo.
The Race Itself
Weather was perfect. I felt more or less good until I tried to take a gel, which did not mix well with the Nuun in there. The first two gels (at miles 6 and 12) sat kind of okay. The third (at mile 17.5) did not. I abandoned my plan to take another in the 20s and spent the remainder of the race trying to move forward and not barf.
As usual in these poorly-executed marathons, it took all my (already limited) mental capacity to move forward without stopping to walk. The last 10-K was an epic mental battle of wanting to quit entirely but knowing that, if I could fight that urge, I’d run some amount of PR. I don’t even want to look at my splits. UGLY.
I’d say the low point was the 3:35 pacer passing me at mile 24. But really, there were so many low moments in that last stretch.
I felt worse than I ever have at the finish, likely mostly a function of having gotten almost no sleep the previous night and very little the night before that. I ended up in the medical tent just because I was cold and cranky and crampy and needed some Gatorade and a chair in a warm place.
After a post-finish meltdown in which I told Paul, “I HATE MARATHONS,” I am eager to try again, smarter. I have the fitness to go faster. I 100% know that. I know what I did wrong, and I won’t make those mistakes again.
I desperately want the marathon I know I can have: The one where I spend the first half, comfortably, at 3:35 pace, pick it up a hair through the 20-mile mark, then race into the finish. The one where I only feel barfy in the last 5-K, and that’s only because I’m picking it up so much and passing so many people, not because I am giving my stomach fuel and it’s too angry at me to digest it.
I don’t know when that marathon will be. Gotta talk to the coach. But I know I have it in me. And at least I know what to eat the day before the race now!