Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Post-Marathon Reflections

Happy Tuesday! I want to thank everyone for their support and kind words regarding the marathon!
We are now 3 days post race, and I am starting to feel back to normal today, and even made it to the gym this morning for my first quality weights session in I don't know how long!


So there are a lot of things that I have been thinking about and gotten questions about so I figured I would share. Beware this is another long one:)

The Race:   So I will start by saying that if you didn't catch the subtle hints from my race recap about what a catastrophe this race was, then well, I don't know what to say- it was a Catastrophe!!!!
-Expo:  Nothing impressive, I have gotten more things from a bigger 5k race than I did here.
-The course was advertised as flat, when in fact it had 4 major hills on the bridges that would make you New Englanders proud, not at all what was indicated to us naive Floridians. My favorite was the beast of a climb that you had to scale at mile 25- just in case you hadn't worked hard enough in the first 25 miles, they made sure it would kill you in the last 1.2
-Safety:  There was none! They had you running in the emergency lanes on open roads the entire race going teh same directon as the cars- not safe at all. There was zero traffic control, and no medical support either, lets just say they were VERY lucky that something bad did not happen.
-Sun/Wind:  While the race director could not control the 20mph winds, he could have controlled the course to make at least 1 mile of it in the shade. All 26.2 miles were in direct sunlight, which definitely took it's toll on most of the runners and left me with some pretty horendous tan lines.
-Water/Gatorade/Fuel:  Water stations were under-stocked and some were unmanned, making staying hydrated very challenging. I was SO thankful that John was such a trooper and met us 4 times on the race course with additional water, otherwise I think I may literally have been the walking dead like all the people I passed from Miles 22-Finish. There was pretty much no Gatorade, there was some at mile 12, and some that John gave me somewhere in the early 20s. We were fed false promises of Gatorade, had I know there would be none, I would have brought my own- in hindsight, I probably should have seen that one coming. There was no proper fuel on the couse, but some volunteer at mile 21 tried to force-feed me pretzels, umm no thanks!
-Medals:  While my medal is still intact because I have pretty much refused to touch it, many medas broke including Penny and Jaime's..

You can see the great big hole in the middle where the rest of the medal should be... I would be pretty pissed if my medal broke and they told me, oh it's ok, you can fix it, just take it to a jeweler!!!!
-Race Director: there may as well have not been one! This was the most disorganized race I have ever participated in, the race director seemed very indifferent to many of our concerns the day before the race, and clearly had no experience running in a race, let along putting on a race with 4 different groups. I feel bad for him, I don't think he expected all the chaos that ensued, but if they plan to continue this race, they really should bring in a real runner to set it up.
-Crowd Support: ZERO! I got more support and cheers from my fellow runners than I did from all the spectators combined! Now I will say that my support group was great, but 3 people is mighty slim for such a long race.

I really hate to be so negative, but this race was awful! Nothing was delivered upon and my low expectations were drastically under-met. I knew it would me a small no-frills race, but I did at least expect water and gatorade, this was a marathon after all, not just some small 5k race. I want to use this as a cautionary tale to all future marathoners: Pick a non-inaugural big race, it may be crowded, but at least you won't be left high and dry!


While I obviously missed my time goal, I can't complain about that too much considering all of the above. I know my next marathon can only get better, so I am really anxious to see what I could actually do in good conditions under competant race direction.

As for my non-time goals, here is how I fared:
-Finish Happy, Standing and with a Smile on my Face: Well I was happy to be done, I was standing, and while the smile was more of a grimace due to cramps in the last 200 yards, I think I took care of this one
-Stay Positive the entire race: Well I will say I stayed super positive the last 6 miles when the cramps started when I could have been nothing but a negative nancy, but I was my own biggest cheerleader the last few miles. I never actually hit "the wall" but if I had to pick my low point it would be somewhere between mile 10-11 after reaching the top of big hill #2 and feeling so beat up from the wind that I couldn't fathom how I would survive another 15 miles. I really wanted to stop, but after I decided at the half way point to abandon my 4:15, my positivity came back and it was smooth sailing until the end, so I give myself an A!
-Consistency: I would consider this one an epic fail! My fastest split was 9:04 and slowest I think 12:02, major inconsistency, However...My first half was super consistent in the 9:20-9:40 range for 13 miles with the exception of the 9:04, and the 2nd half was mostly at the 10:30 point with the exception of a few cramp-filled miles. I think I stayed consistent in each half given the situations, but would still consider this a major fail!!!
-No Walk Breaks:  We all know how that ended, but there is always next time.
-Run the Tangents: Mission Accomplished!!!

26.28 Miles is about as close as you can get to 26.2. I knew I was focusing on the tangents, but I really didn't think I had done that well- go me!

What I Learned:
Every new situation always brings a learning experience and I learned a lot from this race.
-I am more positive than I thought
-I can run a marathon, and am a lot more capable that I give myself credit for
-And most importantly... do not ever register for a small or inaugural race ever again!!!

Weight: I actually had 3 separate people ask me about weight gain/loss during this training cycle and race, and while everyone is different and will vary, this is what I noticed:
-I weigh literally the exact same at the end of the race (day after) as I did the day I started training in June.
-I feel MUCH more flabby right now than I did when I started training 18 weeks ago.

My priority for the last 18 weeks has been running, and building up my endurance and a little bit of speed. I did some cross-training, and kept a very haphazzard weigh-training regimin, but the only thing that stayed consistent was my running, which is why I am softer than I was at the start of this. It took almost 8 weeks for my appetite to increase with my miles but it finally did, and I found that I all I wanted to eat was carbs!!! Not great for keeping the abs looking nice, but it seemed to work just fine. I am planning to at least strength train consistently for the next few months, on top of my running, and hopefully that will resolve some of the flabiness-factor.

Recovery: So while I still have 5 more days of this recovery nonsense, I feel good right now. My muscles seem back to normal, no extreme tightness or excruciating pain. My right knee is still unusually sore, but I attribute that to some itb inflammation from running only on the right side of a slanted road for 20+ miles, oh and hills- that's enough to piss off a knee and it band!

I may try to sneak in a short run this week just to make sure nothing is broken, but if I do it will be Thursday or Friday, I may hit spinning one day, but otherwise I have been given strict orders to rest this week, and hit the ground running again on Monday morning.

What's Next: So what's next???? Actual training picks up again on Monday, my coach and I have discussed a lot of options as far as what's up next for me and while some things are still up in the air, I will leave you with a good teaser of what is to come:

Monday 11/1: Resume Running (plan for 35-40 mile week)

Monday 11/8: Start 14 week training cycle

Saturday 11/21:  Women's Running Magazine Half Marathon in St. Pete with Penny and Jaime

Thursday 11/25:  Outback Distance Classic (Half-Marathon)
Who doesn't love a good Thanksgiving day race!

Saturday 12/11:  Festival of Lights 5k
Planning to shatter my current 5k PR in hopes of it being fast enough to qualify for Corral 2 for the 2011 Gate River Run.

Sunday 12/19:  Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon

Sunday 2/13:  26.2 with Donna

While I had already filled out my application and written the check for my 2nd full marathon, I held onto it for over a week before finally dropping it in the mail. As much as I loved training for a marathon, I was nervous that after doing it once I would not want to race that distance again. Well it took me about 2 minutes after finishing my race last weekend to know I was ready to tackle the distance again. I dropped off my registration on our way home Saturday and am officially in now for Marathon #2!!!!!


  1. sounds like you have a great plan going forward and that you aren't letting the logistical stuff that was bad about the race get into your head and ruin plans!

  2. Wow, great analysis. I'm glad you haven't given up on the marathon after this terrible experience! I assure you...there are wayy better races than it sounds like this one was...your next marathon will be a breeze. You have a very busy schedule for the rest of the year! Good for you! I can't believe you are already back to training on Monday...I'm still slogging around and its been over 2 weeks now since my race. You must be feeling good! What is your secret??

  3. First off, congrats on finishing that race and your first marathon. You overcame a lot of adversity to finish no matter what the time or goal was. I think I remember seeing you and your two friends with the broken metals. I know I ran next to one of your friends until the full split from the half. Jenny's medal broke almost as soon as she got it. I wasn't having any of it and I took it back and got another (they hadn't run out at that point). Jenny and I have run a lot of races and this was one of the worst. I'm glad to see you're not giving up on the marathon distance. I was at the Donna last year and it's one of the most well organized races I've ever seen! Jenny's run the Bank and she loved that race as well. Keep running and maybe we'll see you at one of those races in a few months!