1 week Pre-Race Fueling: I tried to drink more water than normal but didn’t drink as much as I would have liked or needed to drink. Didn’t really focus on “carb loading” in the days leading up to the race. I didn’t shy away from carbs but didn’t intentionally carb load.
Morning Pre-Race Fueling: Had an applesauce, 1 granola bar, 1 banana,, and a bottle of water. THIS WAS NOT GOOD pre-race fueling. I like to eat a bagel with peanut butter prior to a race but this didn’t happen. I also didn’t drink anything other than water. Maybe a gatorade would have helped but I’m really trying to avoid sugar.
Race Fueling: Started fueling at mile 3 with a fruit bar and Gatorade Endurance. I got Gatorade Endurance at every drink station for the rest of the race, not because I was thirsty but I needed the calories. Mile 6 - fruit bar, mile 9 peanut butter bites and fruit bar, mile 15 fruit bar, mile 21 tried some fruit chews but at that point I was pretty much done and knew that taking them wasn’t going to help.
As is evident by the above information, fueling was an issue for this race. I’m stuck between trying to go no sugar and carbs, but then not getting enough calories because I’m not upping my fat intake. I should have stuck with a carb loading plan like I’ve done for past races since I know I’m lacking in my daily calorie intake. I didn’t have enough stored to get my legs through all the mileage at the paces I wanted to run.
Started the race a little boxed in, but nothing too bad. I was able to get into a comfortable stride pretty quickly. It was hard to hold back because the majority of runners were either doing the half-marathon or the marathon relay. I really focused on my watch and intentionally held back. Felt strong and confident.
When I hit miles 6-13 and goal pace was 8:30-35, I really struggled to hold back. I found myself pacing between 8:20-30. I wanted to pull back because I knew the harder part of the course (WIND) was really going to pick up at 14+. I felt great running these miles but it was mentally tough knowing that most of the runners around me were pushing because they were almost finished.
13 - Saw my family. Gave me a renewed energy.
14-16 - On boardwalk with tailwind. Felt pretty good. Got to the bridge and was smacked in the face with the wind. A nice hill and wind. This is when I started to feel it in my calves. It wasn’t too bad at first, but it definitely came on quick.
17- 26.2 - My calves felt like they were being tied in one big knot. They were so incredibly tight and painful. I texted my husband at 18 with the following: “The wheels have come off. I’m done.” He promptly texted me back and told me to fight through. I needed to hear that because at this point in the race there was very little (as in almost none) crowd support. I texted him back: “I hurt so badly.” I didn’t get a response because he knew I knew what I had to do! The last 10 miles were straight into the wind. I’ll just sum this up by saying it sucked!
I started to walk around 18. I didn’t really have a plan other than to walk really fast and then run as fast a pace as my calves would let me. I tried not to walk for more than 30 seconds at a time. I didn’t check my watch, but went more on feel. All I know is that I wanted to run significantly more than I walked and I accomplished that. I was still ahead of the 3:45 pacer at 20. I tried to stay with him and could still see him at 21 but my legs just weren’t having it. My new goal was to stay in front of the 4:00 pacer. I saw him after the turn-around and was a few miles ahead so I figured this was a reasonable expectation based on how I was feeling.
When I hit the bridge for the second time, 22-23 I saw I was still on pace to PR. I dug deep and really pushed through the last 4 miles. I walked a few times but each time thought about that PR and forced myself to run. At this point, the race was back on the boardwalk so there were absolutely no protection from the wind. The last mile was the hardest I’ve ever run. My legs hurt so badly but the race support was amazing. I loved that our bibs had our names printed on them. So many people yelled for me to keep pushing. I knew my kids were at the finish shoot and would see me coming in. I wanted them to see me pushing strong. Thankfully, the last .5-6 were with a tailwind as I came back on the boardwalk to the finish.
This definitely was the tale of two races. The first half of the race I felt amazing. I was really pleased with my pacing considering I actually had to hold myself back. The second half of the race was a mental battle to run through the pain in my calves. The marathon field was significantly smaller than the ½ marathon field. I ended up running the 2nd ½ by myself for long stretches. I would have liked to be able to try and draft off people and protect myself from the wind a little bit, but we were so spread out that I rarely was around anyone.
Mentally, this was a hard race. Going into the marathon, I wasn’t confident simply because so much of my training in the last month was forced inside. It’s not that I didn’t do the training or that I didn’t hit the paces during training. It was just that inability to run outside where I really wanted to be. This is also the first marathon that I’ve run that wasn’t just a marathon. Having the ½ marathon split and the relay was mentally hard for me. Being as competitive as I am (knowing full well I’m only competing against myself and the clock) it was hard to rationalize all the fresh legs around me. I know that sounds crazy but it was more mentally difficult than I expected!
Reflecting back, fueling was a major factor in why I had the calf issues. I’ve never been great at fueling, but based on how well my training went this cycle (minus not being outside) I know that I have to figure it out if I want to continue to improve.