TCM Race Report

I’d like to be as thorough as possible with this race report — more for my own records than for blog-reader pleasure As such, I think I’ll break this into multiple posts, and may be editing as I remember more.

Where to start? I’ll begin with the no-carb/carb diet. Per Jerry, I decided to try the 3 day no-carb, 3 day all-carb diet. I’ve tried the 3 day all-carb diet before, and felt like that made a big difference.

So, for M-Wed, I ate only salad, chix breast, egg whites, peanuts and celery w/ peanut butter. Yuck. By Tuesday, I felt sort of sick after my easy run. I wondered if it was because I had eaten a hot dog (no bun) and celery with PB for supper. Not anything I typically eat, and not remotely healthy, but I was in a hurry & didn’t have anything else quick to eat. By Wed, though, on a healthier diet day, I felt TERRIBLE. It was a 3×1200 m at tempo pace (6:05-6:15) workout. I think I wrote a blog after that… I felt awful. My head was fuzzy, my breathing was heavy, and my legs felt like they had run a marathon.

I weighed myself often to make sure I didn’t lose anything during this stage. Wednesday morning I weighed 106.4 (sorry for the details — just trying to record everything so I can build on it next time!). I think I lost 1 lb. between Monday and Wednesday. Not quite at my goal racing weight, but pretty close (I began training at 112-114 lbs because I had taken so much time off. It took FOREVER to get below 109-110).

Day Thur-Sat: All carbs. LOVED this stage. I looked forward to the next time I could eat a bagel with either jam or cinnamon and sugar or fruit or oatmeal. I didn’t miss the protein or fat at all. I weighed myself on Thursday: gained 1 lb. back. I weighed myself Fri: Another 1 pound gain. After that, I didn’t touch the scale. I didn’t want to freak out, thinking that I had gained too much or was too heavy for a fast time. Gaining 2 pounds during this stage is PERFECT. It shows you how much your body is packing in the glycogen & storing water along with it. Pretty amazing, actually.

I took Friday off from running, and Saturday ran for just a mile. My plan called for more Saturday, but I don’t think I’d change this.

Now, on to race morning. Ate a packet of oatmeal and a bagel with Jam, along with a bit of water. Off to the start! Nate drops me off at a Church near the start, which is the staging area for the Elites. Talk about intimidating. I stretched alongside the men’s eventual winner… made me feel pretty big and out of shape, not going to lie! He was so lean & sinewy, you knew he was a FAST marathoner.

At 7:30, 30 minutes before the start, I went out for my first 5 minute warm up. I started out nice and slow, and worked up to about 7:30 mile pace. Perfect. Then ran back in, tried the bathroom one more time, and started to pack up my stuff. Ideally, my 2nd 5 minute warm up is with 10 minutes to race time. Problem was, they led the elites out to a parking lot with 15 minutes to go. I stripped down (no last minute clothing drops, boo), took my caffeinated gel, and nervously thought to myself, it’s ok not to do the second warm up. Instead, I ran a little bit back and forth in the parking lot. I think this was a mistake on my part: I should have found a way to a road to do the 2nd warm up. I just didn’t know where to go & was scared I was going to miss them herding us into the start of the race (which actually could have happened).

Perfect weather at the start. I started with gloves, a singlet, and compression knee-length shorts. The gun went off at 8. I rely on my watch heavily during this first mile. It feels so easy, at any pace! My watch said 6:30 for a while, and then jumped down to 6:15. Hmm, that’s quick… better hold it here. I remember talking to one guy whose goal was 3:00. I said outloud, we’re going a little quick for that… you may want to slow down. He agreed & I didn’t see him again. My watch clicked off 1 mile at 6:15. Problem was, I didn’t see the first course mile marker/clock until 6:5x. “WHAT?!?!?”, I exclaimed to the guy next to me. This can’t be right. It’s probably off & they’ll correct the mile markers by mile 2.

My watch shows 6:40 for mile 2. I could have picked it up, but in my mind I was averaging my first two miles to be a 6:30. I didn’t want to start off too fast. So I held to 6:40 and waited for the 2nd mile marker. I passed that in 13:35 or so. Is it possible that both the 1 and 2 mile markers are off? I didn’t know what to do at this point! My goal was 6:30s, so by the course, I was already 35 seconds off. Not good. I tried to pick it up to 6:30 pace, but just couldn’t find it. I figured it was because my mile markers were probably right, so just to roll with it. I DIDN’T want to be a slave to the watch.

Plus, I had a bit of a stomach ache. I was a little afraid of that, because during my last marathon I battled stomach issues the entire way. Wonder what causes that? Luckily, it went away after about 5 miles. Crisis averted.

I passed the 5k mark in 20:39. Hmm. Goal was 20 minutes. I decided to stop worrying. Just run comfortable & try to find marathon pace. I eventually did, and when that happened, WOW. How easy! 6:29s nearly every mile. It felt effortless and I didn’t even need the watch. Note for next time: maybe I need to do more MP work without a watch? To learn how that pace “feels”? I think the 2nd warm up would have helped, because I usually work up to MP during that warmup. Missing that meant that I was coming into that pace totally cold.

Anyway, I kept battling with my pace mentally during the race. When do I start to make up my deficit? I’m feeling good (really good!), but I told myself to wait. Bad things can happen if you go out too hard too early.

I ended up going through the 1/2 way point in 1:26.11. I couldn’t believe the clock. Again, another “What?!? Oh NOO!”, this time to myself. I knew that I needed to start picking it up STAT. Had I just blown my chances at a fast time? Why hadn’t I corrected myself sooner?? I told myself to forget about it & just concentrate on the 2nd half. I’m a VERY good negative splitter, I told myself. You still have this! Plus, you’re not even tired. You have a lot more to give!

One thing I did really well during the beginning of the marathon was managing energy and water. I took a gel at the start, at about 7 miles, and at about 11 miles (I’ll update this later with actual mile markers). I took water at nearly every stop (only missed one) and poured a cup over my head as well, even though it was cool. I was a little full, but it worked out great. Take them early, and often! It kept the dizziness away the entire marathon!!

… I’ll sign off for now with the 1/2 way mark. More to come later!
P.S. Not the best picture, but one of the only ones I have for the first part of the race 🙂

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  1. I didn't want to say anything about carbo-loading while you were doing it, but now… it's been shown that the 3 day depletion phase works primarily for untrained people, rather than those getting ready for a marathon. What's typically done now is a long run a week from the marathon to deplete, then three days of normal mileage to stay depleted, then the loading. A study from Western Australia University has shown good results with a very simple one-day depletion/loading: run a half mile all-out, recover and do an all-out sprint, then down as many carbs as possible in 2-5 hours.

  2. Really? I did a bit of research on it before I attempted it — didn't ever read about the untrained people aspect. Is that something (relatively) new? Wonder why that's the case?

    I've heard about the one day depletion/loading stage. I think the results on that were that the glycogen stores weren't as high (but the benefit is that it doesn't take a week)… is that correct?

    Do you have any resources? Books, or links to web articles? It'd be good to read further into this…

    Could have been the fact that I was pretty well trained, but my legs have never felt so strong/had sustained energy throughout the entire race. Without reading any more into the science behind it, I'd definitely do the whole depletion/carbo load again.

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