Saturday, January 21, 2012
Patience is not my forte. It never has been. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be. I’m trying.
So maybe it’s not the smartest thing to take on training for a marathon out of the blue, in the middle of winter and over the Christmas holidays with all sorts of ridiculous treats and temptations and Christmas parties and only five full weeks to train. But like I said in my last post, sometimes it’s fun to mix it up a bit.
The training for this race absolutely sucked. And by training I mean the mental training. The running was the easy part. I picked a pace and spent as much time as I could running at that pace or faster. My mental state was a completely different story. Not sure why I care so much about doing this fast marathon but I had stated a goal and it was important to me to reach it. I feel like the marathon is a benchmark for runners. You can kind of get away with doing a 10k or a half marathon and if you screw up on the training a bit you might still be ok. But with the marathon it’s a different story. You can’t just wing it. Or at least I can’t. I just had no idea whether my 3hr goal was actually possible or not. So there was a lot of doubt, a lot of negative self talk. But at the same time I didn’t take anyone’s advice. A couple people told me I wouldn’t be able to do it in less than 12 weeks and I chose not to listen. I wanted to trust my gut, see what I was really capable of instead of being limited by someone else’s idea of what is possible.
So while this weekend was very goal specific, it was also a birthday celebration weekend with one of my best friends in the world. Geneva and I have known each other since we were two and we have been through it ALL together. And she’s turning 30 a couple weeks after me so this was sort of our birthday girl trip too. And even if I hadn’t reached my goal, it would have been one of the best girl trips ever. We literally did not stop laughing from the time we got to the airport on Friday afternoon until I dropped her off in -40 at 1am Tuesday morning. And as much as she was nervous too, she was 100% full of positive pep talk all the way. I may not have believed her, but her enthusiasm and positivity was infectious and no doubt contributed to my mental state during the race.
So the actual race isn’t anything exciting. It’s 42km of road running. Essentially I just executed a plan. My goal was to run at 4:08/km (6:40 per mile) the whole way. I had had a few interesting marathon theory talks with Matty’s friend leading up to it and was told to just hold back until 32k. It was good advice. There were a few times that I wanted to race the girls ahead of me, as I would usually do, but I resisted. This race wasn’t about placing. It was about getting a time that I wanted. I mean don’t get me wrong, it always feels good to pass someone but I wasn’t going to blow up and wreck my race over it. I had my splits written on my left arm and my Garmin on my wrist.
My splits were a little off, so while I thought I was running 4:08 for the first half, I crossed it at 1:31. Not a great sign but it just meant I had to speed up a bit. So rather than doing 4:08s, I picked it up to about 3:55-4minute pace as far as my Garmin was telling me. This pace felt fairly effortless as well so I knew I could hold it. And by the time I got to 30.5km, I decided I didn’t want to wait any more to turn it on. So I picked it up again, holding about a 3:45 - 4 minute pace for the last 12k.
I had four gels with me, and my Vega Pre-workout energizer condensed in a little handheld bottle. I stopped and walked at almost every water station and forced myself to stay hydrated and not choke. My blood sugar didn’t dip once. I had one small cramp for about five minutes. The hill that looked so bad on the profile the day before seemed non existent leading up to the 32k mark and then it was almost all downhill from there. It was literally the perfect race, until the last 5k.
This was the point where I realized it was going to be really tight to get in under three hours. I was going as hard as I could but just couldn’t go any faster. If there was a wall to hit, it was here. Low blood sugar, legs exhausted, small rolls in the road feel like mountains. Part of me is saying “wow, Amy you actually might do this!” and at the same time I am ready to stop and walk. But here is where I start to tell myself: Amy you did not give up hours of time with the kids, plus this weekend, plus spend the money to get here, to give up now. Shut up self. Just finish the race.
When I crossed and looked at my watch, just under 3hrs and 1 minute, I didn’t have any surge of emotion. So odd. The whole day I just felt calm and stable. If I’d finished at 2:55 it might have been a different story. But I feel like I just trusted myself, put the work in, followed the plan, stayed calm and patient, and did what I went there to do. Sorta boring isn’t it?
So while I didn’t go ‘under’ three hours, I’d say I accomplished my goal. My official time was 3hrs, 51 seconds. I’m not going to get hung up on 52 seconds. If anything, the only thing that tells me is that I might have to do it again. Yes, I told myself that once I reached this three hour goal that I would never run another marathon. But it just felt so good. I mean compared to some of the trail races I’ve done, compared to Trans Rockies, it was like running on a treadmill. Two days later, Matty and I have already decided that we are going to register for the LA marathon on March 18. And hopefully this time, I will have a little more confidence in my abilities and just trust that if I put in the work and the miles, that things might just go according to plan.
What I wore: Arc’teryx clothing, Salomon calf sleeves.
Shoes: Inov-8 (yes I wore a trail shoe and yes, they felt great. Same ones I wore in Trans Rockies, I love them).
What I ate during the race: Vega Pre-Workout Energizer and four Vega sport gels. Breakfast was a lot of water, coconut water for electrolyte balance, 1/2 banana and a large coffee at 5am.
The day before I had fruit for breakfast, a huge kale salad from Whole Foods at lunch, about a cup of mulberries, banana chips and almonds, one head of parsley (to help with the water retention from the airplane), and for dinner I had an apple and half an avocado. I tend to not eat much the day before a race, I just do better when there is less in the system. Digestion takes a lot of energy. So you have to balance out the energy you get from eating, vs the energy it takes to digest the food. In my case, less is more. We went to bed pretty early but I didn’t sleep very well which was ok because I had slept really well all week. Also - last run was on Tuesday and took the rest of the week off because of some muscle spasms in my back. Just a light 4k run on Saturday.
*As a side note, I found out a few months ago that I have very low Ferritin levels. This might have been why I felt so horrible at TransRockies the whole time because if your levels are under 20 then racing at altitude gets pretty tough. So I’ve been supplementing with a liquid iron and I think it helped a lot. My diet is pretty full of dark green leafy veg and occasionally red meat, but apparently I needed more. It's funny, I'm a nutritionist. I should have known this but it's one thing to see it in others, another to recognize the signs in yourself. I tell you this because I know I'm not the only mom out there that forgets to nourish herself. Ladies- pay attention and make sure you stay on top of your health so you can be your best. It's a simple blood test. Make time.