It’s so hard to find time to write race recaps sometimes because you had already put your life (read: grad school) on hold to go up to a marathon and when you get home you hit the ground running to play catch up. But I wanted to get a few more things down before I forget what I did right this time!
Like I said in Part I, I changed a bunch of things for this marathon and used it as an experiment in a way. I know my overall time was slower but that was due to my insufficient training between marathons and not my changing of strategy. In fact, my changes made me feel so much stronger and I was recovered quite soon after the race, unlike after Marine Corps.
The first thing I did was I didn’t carry any water. I hydrated less overall. After listening to the Trail Runner Nation podcast interview with Dr. Timothy Noakes, author of Waterlogged, it explained so much about what went wrong at Marine Corps. I thought I was doing it all right by drinking a ton but didn’t understand why I had MORE cramps than in training and why I was swollen and why I crashed so many times along the course. Listen to this podcast if you have similar questions. It seriously changed my life. I drank less and I took on less fuel (gels) and, just like Dr. Noakes said, it miraculously improved everything! I kept pulling off my wedding ring to check my hydration status. If my fingers were swollen, instead of drinking more water, I refrained. Again, check out the podcast and it explains why. Sure enough, by skipping the water a bit, the swelling went down. I cannot stress enough how much this whole thing changed my training and my understanding of running.
I also tackled hills differently. In cross country in high school they always told us to charge up the hills. I guess I’ve carried that over to now so that when I see a hill I charge up it. Only that doesn’t work when you haven’t seen a hill in training. Our run team “hill workout” is a pathetic little overpass over the highway and it’s barely an incline. And from what Dr. Noakes said in the podcast about cramping is that it is a reaction to overexertion of a muscle and not hydration. I realized at Marine Corps I was cramping and in pain because of how I navigated the hills. This time I went up very gently, to the point it may have looked like walking. But guess what? No cramping! I didn’t cramp once on the race!
Another thing I did was to hug the inside track, so to speak. I followed Greg McMillan‘s advice about tangents being “free speed.” Check him out on Twitter at @GregMcMillan. His stuff is really informative and inspirational. But another thing I found out after MCM was that I had added almost 2 miles to my marathon by going around other runners in order to stay on pace!! I was running such a respectable pace (for my particular variables) so I was shocked to see my finish time and how off my watch was. After realizing what I was doing wrong, thanks to McMillan, I fixed this at Disney and my watch said I was only off by 0.3 miles which is totally acceptable! My plan was, no matter how much the crowd slowed down, do NOT go around anybody! Follow the bee line path! And that worked too.
The one thing I perhaps didn’t do optimally is refuel afterwards. Like I said earlier, my kids commandeered my post-race supplies. That was fine. I hate eating or drinking after a long run but I should have. I eventually did but I didn’t do it in the prime recovery window. Later on, after getting to the hotel and showering and sitting down a minute, my husband told me my face was pale and my lips were blue. I couldn’t believe how I looked in the mirror. It was shocking. And that’s when I said no more marathons. After all, what was it doing to me?? But again, I can’t confuse my marathon performances with how marathons are in general. Truth is I like marathons. But I haven’t been training well enough for them. In other words, it’s me, not you. And, yes, not even 4 days out and I’m already looking at marathons. Hey, NYC registration opens today! I’m not doing NYC but my point is that if you even think there’s a 1% chance you may want to do one, you are forced to grab one early in the year.
Thing is, it’s really hard not to want to try another marathon after learning so much from this one. I’m not sure if I want to travel across the country to do it though and, truthfully, I really liked the Walt Disney World Marathon. It was so well done and so easy for me to get to, when compared to flying to DC, Chicago, or New York. And the family gets a vacation out of it for the same costs of me going solo. Whereas hauling everyone up north would cost substantially more. I’m lucky that such a great kid-friendly marathon weekend is so close to where I live (relatively speaking). And I maaaay have already texted my run team about all of us running the Dopey Challenge next year. I blame it on the post-race euphoria/madness.
But for all you runners who don’t have kids, don’t be dissuaded by all the kid talk. In all my years running Disney races, 99% of the people I meet there do not have children and have just come to the race to hang with friends or boyfriends or family. It’s a really fun place to be. It’s taken years for me to admit that. But be prepared for the Disney Marathon to make you want to return and do Dopey. It’s runner envy. You see everyone else having done 3 more races than you and having 5 more medals than you and, damnit, you want those too! Think of it as a way to almost having done a sorta ultra race. Only you get to take naps between legs of it. It’s the amateurs Four Deserts Race. 🙂