|I didn't realize he took the picture until it was too late.|
Well the first marathon of the season is in the bag and my body is telling the tale and likely will be for awhile. There's no getting around it, this was the toughest marathon I've done. I experienced a lot more discomfort and pain during this race then in any of my other races - the 50k included. Here's my assessment on specific parts of the race for me:
I actually feel like I did pretty well on the nutrition front. I think that played a big part in me being able to finish semi-strong and keep my time similar to last year. I ate a lot more gu then I have in the past. Largely to do with the Honeystinger fruit smoothie gu, it was so delicious! That aside, I felt like I had good energy, it was other parts of my body that broke down. I kept my salt pill intake up, but could have probably done a bit more near the end. As the tendency in races, you start to forget about good nutrition intake near the end because you rationalize that you just need to get to the end and it's so close. In retrospect, I think I should have kept my gu/salt pill intake going in the last 7 miles. My water intake was good and I was fully hydrated using a mix of water and Acclimate. On a final note, the M&Ms at the last aid station helped me power through the last two miles of downhill and for whatever reason I saved a cookie in my pocket from mile 8ish until later in the afternoon while watching TV. Tower was jealous.
Yeah, I didn't train enough for this race. I did train enough to finish the race and power through some pretty painful moments. But I did not do enough long runs to keep the pain monsters at bay after about 3 hours. Which, coincidentally, was the longest duration of running I did leading up to the race. I'm pleased that my past experiences and overall badassness overcame this deficiency enough to keep me in the same time bracket as last year. However I would like to see what I can do next year combining all of that with dedicated training.
They say women have a higher pain threshold than men. Maybe that's true, maybe it's not. But I learned a lot about my pain threshold over 5 and a half hours and I passed a couple dudes in the last 3 miles so maybe that says something. Here is a run down of what hurt:
- Ankles/Achilles/shins. This felt more like an impact related pain response. Which makes sense, when you are pounding on your legs for that long things get sore. I am surprised that I haven't felt that more in the Quad Rock race which has way more punishing descents. I do think more overall running will strengthen this area up over the next few months and I'm not too worried about it.
- Hamstrings/Quads. Pretty obvious that these things hurt. Just your typical soreness, but I definitely felt them for a lot longer during this race then in previous races. Again I point to not enough long run training. I also experienced a lot of Quad fatigue and that made other muscle groups work a lot harder throughout the race.
- IT Bands. Holy cow, I have not experienced this level of pain in a race before. Usually after a race or a hard frisbee tournament I get the usual tightness/soreness. But this go around I felt them starting at mile 13 and pretty much on and off the rest of the race. It was physically difficult to move my legs forward because of the pain. I actually think a contributing factor to this was playing ultimate the Thursday before the race. Although I wasn't playing 100%, there was some sprinting, and quick changes of direction which are all the things that contribute to my IT Bands hurting. So in the future...no ultimate 2 days before a race.
- Knee. Ugh, my knee gives me trouble in every race. It's something that I've just gotten used to, but it still hurts just the same. I don't know much more that I can do about it except for just dealing with it. It hasn't hurt so badly that I've been sidelined in either running or ultimate so I'm calling it a symptom of being old.
- Pelvis. (Insert some lame sexual innuendo joke here). This was a new one. I have never had my pelvis hurt while running and it didn't hurt so much during the run, but after and through the next day. My theory on this pain is related to the IT Band and Hamstring/Quad pain. Because of the fatigue in my muscles and the tightness in my IT Bands, other muscle groups were working to keep my legs powering forward. I feel like I've gotten a stronger core over the last few weeks, but this race required me to activate muscle groups I haven't had to depend on as much in the past and I felt it.
There are a few things that contribute to finishing a race and Mental Toughness is just as important as physical ability and proper nutrition. I was feeling pretty bummed near the end and had to give myself several pep talks to keep going. Thankfully, when those pep talks were not working, Abby (an amazing ultra runner) came bounding past me and kept me going through the hardest part of the race. She's been having her own running woes and to see her push through it and encourage me to keep going helped me climb out of the abyss of miles 20-24 and let gravity do the rest for the final 2 miles.
I'm proud of myself for pushing through the pain and frustration to finish the race. Realistically my time is much better than it probably should have been, and for that I have been physically paying the price for the last few days.
Marathons are hard. If they were easy they'd call them 5ks (am I right? hahahaha). Anyways, long distance racing is tough and there are a lot of factors in play that lead to success. I'm really proud of the other runners who were out there running and killing it. There were some PRs and that's awesome. When you feel good you feel good and just rip it. I'm thankful that I had to survive this challenge because it's only going to make me that much stronger when I tackle 50 miles in a few months. It's almost guaranteed that at some part of a 50 miler you're body is going to want to break down and quit and I'm thankful to know that I can at least get through 13ish miles of body breakdown to finish a race. So it's onward and upward. I predict many long training runs in the next month and a half as I prepare for Quad Rock.