One week ago today, my husband, kids, dog, and I headed to my aunt’s house in Richmond, VA. I had all of my calories calculated and planned, snacks in a bag I could easily get to (while driving), and, water bottle beside me. This would be my last day to “carbo load”, and, I wanted to make sure I didn’t fall short, as in previous marathons. After arriving at my aunt’s house, I made sure to get my racing outfit ready for the morning, and, began eating my dinner around 5:30p. I made my own pasta, my own salad, and, packed my own “dinner” bag. This way, I knew exactly what and where I was eating from. I highly recommend doing this!!
The next morning, it was race day! As soon as I woke up, I drank my Boost drink. I had tried this before a long run, and it seemed to work better for me than attempting oatmeal or a bagel, etc. (I just have never been able to stomach solid food before a marathon). The weather forecast was calling for “showers” to end by 7am., and air temps to be in the 50’s to low 60’s by mid-day. As my husband and I were driving to the race, the rain came pouring down. We arrived to a parking garage and waited for it to stop raining so hard. Finally, about 30 minutes before the start, the rain let up. (However, there were still showers off and on the entire race.)
Another tip I would like to share is make sure you get to the porta-potty line in plenty of time. I found one a little ways a way from where most of them were. The line looked pretty short, I guess most people headed inside to the Marriott Hotel lobby bathroom. The line there was insane! I still don’t know how many of those people made it to the start line in time.
As I made my way to my start corral (I was in Wave 1), I decided to head towards the back of the first wave. I remembered in Chicago, the start felt more like a 10K than a marathon, people went out so fast! Soon, the wheelchair athletes started, then, the elites, then, my wave. About .25 mile into the race, the rain started coming down again… And it wasn’t just a light shower. Ugh…
I paced myself at a comfortable pace, and tried to enjoy the moment. After all, at least it wasn’t 35 degrees and raining! Even though it was a dreary November morning, seeing areas of town near where I grew up was absolutely incredible. Running on the roads that I used to drive on as a teenager, brought back so many wonderful memories. As I approached mile 7, there was a huge crowd of spectators. Just on the other side were my two aunt’s, and my kids. They made me signs and were cheering for me as I ran by. I gave both of my kids a big high five, and, tried to keep from crying. This was truly something I will never forget.
I knew I still had a long way to go, and rather than thinking about how many miles I had ahead of me, I just tried to run relaxed, listen to my iPod, and take in the sights around me.
Miles 8 through 13 I kept my pace where I wanted it to be, and, I made sure that I drank Powerade at each aid station beginning at about mile 6. I carried a hand held water bottle with the thought that I would toss it towards the end. In hind sight, I wish I had filled it with Powerade instead of water. During my training (long runs specifically), I tried using Honey Stinger chews, and they just didn’t seem to work as well as Gatorade/Powerade. I can usually tolerate GU/gels for half marathons, just not marathons. The previous four marathons I’ve run, sticking to what’s on the course (Gatorade/Powerade, etc) seems to work best for me. At mile 14, the aid station volunteers were handing out Accel Gel packs. I took one, and placed it in my water bottle holder. I was SO GLAD I DID. At mile 15 was the dreaded Belvidere Street Bridge. My legs suddenly felt super heavy. Going from running on asphalt to running on concrete (for about a mile) really did a number on my legs. Thank goodness for that pack of Accel Gel.
I continued on.. Taking one mile at a time. As the tough miles were still ahead. Miles 18-20 was a pretty straight stretch of road. By miles 21-24, many of the people who sped by me earlier on in the race were beginning to walk. I did end up slowing my pace, but, not terribly. I debated whether to take another Accel Gel (from mile 21), and decided not to. I just stuck to water, and then resumed Powerade/water for the rest of the race.
**It’s not often advised to mix gels with Powerade/Gatorade, as that is often too much carbs/sugar at one time and can cause stomach distress. Stick to one or the other (Gels OR Powerade). I had done this once before, and I knew it worked. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have taken the risk.
Finally, at mile 26, I knew I had done it. The end was very near. The last .2 mi. (may be a little longer) of Richmond Marathon is all downhill. A very steep downhill in fact. I gave it all I could, embraced the cheers of the spectators lining either side of the road, and, when I crossed the timing mat, I didn’t even know what my finish time was. My Garmin clock messed up from the rain, and was showing 26:20. The timing clock showed 3:35:xx, or, at least that’s what I thought I saw.
Turned out, my net time was actually 3:33:45 (8:05 avg). Five minutes faster than I ran Chicago Marathon (which is a flat and known to be fast course). I was ecstatic!!
This year, instead of receiving a space blanket at the finish, each finisher (including the half-marathoners), received a fleece blanket instead. I thought this was a great idea! Something I can use long after the race is over.
2013 Richmond Marathon Splits: (Blue is Goal Marathon Pace Range, Red is slower than Goal Marathon Pace Range).
Mile 1. 7:47
Mile 2. 7:56
Mile 3. 7:36
Mile 4. 7:48
Mile 5. 7:44
Mile 6. 7:53
Mile 7. 7:35
Mile 8. 7:50
Mile 9. 7:53
Mile 10. 7:58
Mile 11. 7:55
Mile 12. 8:02
Mile 13. 7:57
Mile 14. 7:52
Mile 15. 7:48
Mile 16. 8:11
Mile 17. 8:15
Mile 18. 8:33
Mile 19. 8:23
Mile 20. 8:34
Mile 21. 8:40
Mile 22. 8:42
Mile 23. 8:53
Mile 24. 8:34
Mile 25. 8:32
Mile 26. 8:12
.2 mi. 2:31
Yes, miles 16-26.2 were slower than my “Goal Marathon Pace”. Am I upset with myself? No. Reason being that 1. My weekly mileage was only averaging 30-45 miles/week, 2. tempo runs/intervals were few, and, 3. I ended up not doing but a couple of goal marathon pace runs during my long runs. If you take all of that into consideration, I’m pretty darn excited about my 3:33:45. 🙂
What I learned from Marathon #5:
1. Plan out your meals/snacks carefully during those last 3 days before the marathon. I can’t stress this enough. I did, and I truly believe it made a difference. I also aimed for 10 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of my body weight on the day before the marathon. I am a Registered Nurse, but, I am not a Registered Dietitian. This is what works for me.
2. Keep a food “diary”/ meal plan during training. I waited a little too late in my training cycle to start doing this, and I wished I had started on day 1. I wasn’t consuming enough calories/fat/protein, and I bet that is why I felt so tired many days of my training.
3. Be as consistent as possible during your 16-20 weeks of training. You can’t “make up” for lost/missed training at the end, and expect race day to go smooth. I got lucky this time. I just don’t advise to take that chance. It’s one thing to miss a few runs, or even miss a certain long run or two. Usually, a training plan can be altered to get you back on track. If you become injured, and miss many days/weeks of training/ key long runs, it may be a better idea to defer or drop the race, and look for a future one.
4. Stick to the shoes that you have been training in (especially long runs) for the marathon. I almost wore my Brooks Adrenaline 14’s instead of my Adrenaline 13’s, because I loved the updates/feel of them. However, I only did a few shorter runs in them, and no long runs. So happy I stuck with what my legs were used to. Although, looking forward to wearing my 14’s now that Richmond is over.
5. Have fun and take it all in! When I ran Chicago Marathon last year, I just never felt like I was able to really enjoy the moment. I was so worried about something going wrong, that I didn’t take time to savor the experience until it was over. This time, I took it all in, and tried to have the most fun that I possible could. I’ll admit, by mile 22 I was ready for that finish line. After all, who isn’t?!! 🙂
6. Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go as planned. Again, I was very fortunate for this race that things went as well as they did. 26.2 miles is very hard on the body, and your health is most important. It’s not worth risking major injury/ consequences if you feel like you are injured or having dizziness, vomiting, etc….Seek immediate medical attention if that happens. There are usually medical staff at many of the aid stations. Walk if you must. Sometimes that really helps to work out a cramp. However, resist the urge to give up in those last 6 miles or so. Most likely, you’re going to be tired, and you may even want to curse at all of the spectators cheering you on… Keep telling yourself you can do it, and have faith that you’ve trained for this, and it will all be worth it when you cross that finish line.
It’s been a little over a week since the marathon, and, I’ve run three 5 mile recovery paced runs since. I’ve got a total of four more “recovery” weeks left before I start my next 12 weeks of training for the Rock N’ Roll USA Marathon on March 15, 2014.
Did you run Richmond Marathon 2013? Do you have any lessons learned from running marathons?
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