Monday, November 25, 2013

Philadelphia Marathon Recap

This last week flew by! I've been enjoying some R & R post-marathon - no running for a week or two. I feel pretty back to normal now. October and November have been pretty crazy for a lot of reasons. For one, my mom has been in town helping with a bunch of projects around the house, which resulted in things being pretty topsy turvy around the house. The end result is nice - a pretty little powder room from the disaster of a half bath in the basement, finally baseboard and base shoe all around, the stairs down to the  basement are nicely finished and now have a hand rail, and pretty new interior doors throughout. There was lots of organizing as well. Now that my mom has flown off to her next destination, things are a little quieter.

So, I'm just now getting around to doing a race recap. The 20th anniversary Philadelphia Marathon was my third full marathon. I have mixed feelings about the outcome. My plan was to start with the 4:45 Clif Team pace group, which I did. The race got off to a good start, I stuck to the plan of fueling with my Tailwind Nutrition drink I was carrying in four 8 oz bottles on a waist belt, and hung with the pace group. The pacer was aiming for 10:30 miles, and walk through the water stops. This felt slightly challenging, but was doable...for the first 30k. At that point, I started to drop back. My neck and shoulders were tense and sore, and I couldn't seem to relax, and my hip flexors and IT band were also hurting. I tried to convince myself I could hang in there with the group, but it just wasn't happening. My splits went downhill pretty fast after the 30k mark. At this point I gave up on a 4:45, but was still hoping to break 5:00. I was doing some walking, but still a good amount of running through Manayunk and up until the last few miles. I definitely struggled at the end. There were a few bright moments, with the crowd cheering in Manayunk. One of the best pick-me-ups was when a fellow tapped me on the shoulder around mile 23, I think, and said he'd been following me for a while and it was keeping him on track. I told him I was struggling myself, but I was happy to hear I was helping him out in some way. It definitely kept me going for a bit!

My finish time was 5:01:35, not quite what I was aiming for. However, compared to 5:24:32, it was still a big improvement over last year. A few things that I think went "wrong" or I could improve on:
1. My lower back had been bothering me the week leading up to the race. Maybe the tension there led to the early onset of neck/shoulder pain and the hip flexor/IT band issues. I did not have nearly as much discomfort during my 18 or 20 mile training runs, and this set in around the halfway mark if I recall correctly. I did some stretching during the week, but maybe a good massage or some serious foam rolling would have helped release some of that tension and set me up for a better race.

2. I did drink all 32 oz of the Tailwind Nutrition drink, and had about 1/2 a citrus Clif shot (all I felt I could stomach at the time). Late in the race I mostly just wanted water, but all told I only took in about 450 calories - around 111g carbs. For a 5:00:00 run, with 30-60 g of carbs recommended/hour, or 150-300 g carbs total, that was on the low side. It was also warming up late in the race (around 60 degrees!), which was lovely, but also contributed to dehydration I'm sure. I'm not great at hydrating in general, so I suspect I was somewhat dehydrated going in, and certainly didn't improve during the race. I probably need to work on both my endurance to improve my ability to burn fat for fuel while running, as well as refining my fueling and hyrdation during a race. In general, I feel like I've done pretty well in training with a beverage for fuel since it seems like a big hit of sugar all at once from a gel is too much for my stomach, and I can meter it out better with a drink. I've tried the Clif Bloks in the past and liked them pretty well, but I'm not great at remembering to take them as often as I should, and now with my current mouth bling (i.e. braces, yes, at almost 30), gummies are a problem. I think fueling and hydration might turn into a separate blog post or several.

3. There's a fine line between challenging oneself and overreaching. The 4:45 goal was definitely a stretch. My 18 mile training run was strong and I completed it at around an 11:00/mi pace. My 20 miler was not quite so good. I had a little niggle of doubt that I could pull it off. Maybe if I had been more confident it would've helped. Maybe if I had started out a bit slower, I would have had some gas left in the tank for the finish and could've potentially finished in under 5 hours, if not the 4:45 I was shooting for. Maybe one or two more 20 mile training runs would help me feel more prepared (and perhaps build endurance as noted above). Lots of maybes.

I have to give a shout-out to Team Philly for the great support and coaching throughout the season, particularly the weekend long runs.

Did you run long recently? What have you found does or doesn't work for you in training and fueling?

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