Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How I ran a 3:29 Marathon

When I showed up to the expo with my friend Kalie before the Ogden Marathon, my stomach dropped.

There was no 3:30 pacer.  3:35- yes.  3:25- yes!  NO 3:30.

Considering the fact that I owed my last goal hitting marathon to the 3:40 pacers, I was devastated.  I had only run 1 other marathon, and I was nervous thinking that if I wanted to hit my 3:30 goal, that I would have to do it on. my. own.

I grabbed a 3:25 pace band just in case I decided I was feeling fast that day.

I *attempted* to eat healthy that day (and in the week leading up to the race).  I had a 12" turkey sub from Subway for lunch and a 6" turkey sub and banana for dinner.  Subway is the recipe for success, I tell you!

I kept debating about what shoes to wear for the marathon.  Nike Trainers?  New Balance Minimus?  I wore the minimus shoes for my last marathon, but I hadn't been training as much with them this time around.  Ultimately my husband made the decision for me and I set out my Nikes- best not to change what you practiced.

At about 10:30 PM is when I started panicking about the pacer all over again.  I just didn't feel like it was smart to try to do a 3:25 when I hadn't been training for it, so I madly created my own pace band using the splits that Billy created for me and finished at 11PM- just in time for Pepto and bed.

I slept okay- thanks to taking a melatonin- but woke at 3:15AM and just waited for my alarm at 3:45AM to get out of bed.  I've learned over the last 2 1/2 years that lack of sleep doesn't affect race performance.  I began my early morning race routine- bath, Pepto again, granola bar and banana for breakfast, lots of water, more than one prayer on my knees, and I was out the door.

I took a Gu with caffeine about 30 minutes before the race started.  Let's talk a bit about Gu- it's positively GAGGY.  However, it is the only thing I've found that doesn't give me GI issues during the run.  The trick is getting it down.  I've found that if I swallow it with a swig of water that I do better, but I'll be honest, every time I took one during the race I thought I wasn't going to get it down, and that that was going to be the one that finally made me puke.  I never did, but that feels like a miracle.  I hope to find something one day that is good on my stomach as well as easy to swallow.

I ran this race one mile at a time.  I looked at my pace band and did my best to match my mile pace to the pace that was listed.  I was completely focused on this- so focused that I didn't even see my family until I literally ran right into them.  It was so great for me to have a little goal to look at and wrap my head around for each mile.

I drank 1-2 cups of liquid at every water stop along the course.  If I was taking a Gu, then I took water, and if I wasn't then I chose Powerade.  I wanted to be sure I was well hydrated throughout, and I feel like I was.  I never felt thirsty.  I took a Gu at miles 5, 12, 18, and 22.  Gu was my only fuel for this race.

Here's the mile breakdown compared with Billy's splits:

My splits:                                   Pace Band:
1- 7:36                                        7:37
2- 7:48                                        8:22
3- 7:39                                        7:59
4- 7:41                                        7:59
5- 7:44                                        7:54
6- 7:43                                        7:46
7- 7:42                                        7:49
8- 7:48                                        7:51
9-8:03                                         8:08
10- 8:01                                      8:06
11- 8:13                                      8:08
12- 7:58                                      8:01
13-7:59                                       8:08
14- 7:54                                      7:54
15- 8:26                                      8:27
16- 7:57                                      8:08
17- 8:00                                      8:21
18- 7:34                                      8:07
19- 7:59                                      7:49
20- 8:22                                      8:36
21-7:56                                       7:56
22- 7:45                                      7:49
23- 7:22                                      7:43
24- 8:09                                      7:47
25- 8:13                                      8:01
26- 8:30                                      8:03
.4- 2:58                                       .16- 1:18

Garmin time:  26.39 miles, 3:29:00, 7:55 pace
Official time:  26.2 miles, 3:29:00, 7:59 pace

Sure wish I could figure out how to pace myself according to miles rather than using my Garmin.  Seems like the distance is always off in races, but I just don't know how to do it without my watch!  I still feel like I ran a marathon with a 7:55 pace.

Taking into account that this was only my second marathon ever and that I was able to pace myself to my goal of a sub 3:30 on my own, I am very proud of myself!  I love that I can say that I truly ran my own successful race.  It still amazes me!

I was so glad I didn't wear my Minimus shoes.  Last time my calves were cramping so bad during the last 12 miles and this time I didn't have any cramping at all!  I was able to walk around and even run the kids race with Annie that afternoon.  I felt fatigued, and had a bit of hamstring pain and IT Band pain that I had been fighting over the last couple of months, but nothing that I felt negatively affected my performance.

As I look back on race day, the only mistake I feel like I made was signing Annie up for the kids race.  I finished my marathon at 10:30, and Annie's race didn't start until 12:30.  I ended up getting really sick that afternoon and I think it was because I didn't get food- or enough water- in me fast enough; we didn't get lunch until 1:30 and by that time I was feeling SICK.  It's important to take care of yourself after you put such a huge demand on your body like this!

My biggest mistake in all of training was running 20 miles on a treadmill.  I never train on a treadmill and running on one for such a huge run screwed up my body.  I did that treadmill run almost 2 months ago, and I'm still fighting off the injuries from it.  I will never do that again.

I trained using the FIRST method from Run Less, Run Faster.  I missed an entire month of training within my training cycle, and I really believe that if I hadn't been following this program, I wouldn't have made it to the start line.  I'm a convert!  I would love to run more frequently than I do, but because I'm prone to injury, it's just not in the cards.  This program keeps me healthy AND helped me achieve my goal of a 3:30 marathon.


Amy @ Run Mom Run said...

You did such a phenomenal job! You are an incredible runner! I'm glad you love run less run faster, it's awesome. We will run a marathon together someday!

kalie said...

You are amazing!

Kristen Lawrence said...

Congrats!!! Very nice work! How odd is it that they didn't have a 3:30 pacer? That seems like such an even barrier pace to want to break. You didn't need it anyway! ;)

Ali Mc said...

WOW Amylee when I look at all the effort (both mathematically and physically) that went into this race it makes my head spin. YOU NAILED IT!!!!

I completely agree with you in regards to the GU - I always feel like I'm choking it down only to be feeling great a little while after. It's weird that something with the consistency of mucus doesn't make us puke ;P lol

Christie said...

Love this post. Good information and advice. Incredible that such an amazing race came together for you:)

I am the same with GU's... Them and dates are the only fuel I can take during a run without upsetting my stomach. Liquid is key to get that slimy energy down though:)

Congrats again - so proud of you girl:)

Hannah Neville McMillan said...

you are so impressive! i love you.

Rachelle Wardle said...

I read this post last night and forgot to comment. I love, love, love that you ran exactly what you had trained for. You are one smart cookie my friend and I think we can all learn from your experience. Thanks for sharing all of your secrets. :)

You totally rock and I could not be more proud of you. 3:19 next time? Yes I think so!!!

Heidi said...

The fact that you ran a marathon is impressive. The fact that you ran it so fast is simply amazing! Way to go!

Sarah said...

Good job! For a one time only marathon would you recommend ToU or Ogden?

Anonymous said...

Congrats! That is amazing! I feel like gagging every time I try to choke down a gu, and I feel like I do better with gu chomps. Have you tried those? They are easier to get down than the gu, and I haven't had intestinal distress with them.

Again, Amazing job on the marathon! That is so cool!!

Suz and Allan said...

You did a great job pacing yourself it looks like. I'm so impressed with how speedy you are and for a marathon no less!