A recap of my second ever marathon. I broke 3 hours, finished uninjured, and was happier than I’ve ever been in a day. Read about my training, nutrition, and pre/post race thoughts and feelings!
Wow. Where to begin with this post?
As you can tell from the title, on January 15th, 2017, I ran my second ever marathon. You can read about my first here, if you’re interested.
I guess I’ll just dive right in. Going into this marathon, I had no goals or expectations. The only think I ever run a race for is to finish. I did have some apprehension however because of the different climate in Arizona compared to what I was training in back in Buffalo. (also I use the term ‘training’ lightly…more on that later)
Arizona is a lot more dry and obviously warmer than the sub 30 degree temps I usually run in during Buffalo’s winter. If anything, I thought I’d be a lot slower this race because the heat, altitude, and dryness can be so taxing on the body while running. I went into this race intending to finish…that’s it. I accepted that and came to terms with not doing as well as I did on my first one.
I always felt I got really lucky with the first one anyways, so no need to pressure myself to PR.
So let’s get into the race itself.
It was scheduled to start at 7:50. A wave start that turned into a mass start instead. Luckily I was in corral 1 with not a lot of others, so I was essentially right at the start line when the horn blew. Wading through over 5000 other people would not have been a fun way to start the race.
I got there super early in the morning and unfortunately had to wait about an hour and a half before starting. I was worried I’d be hungry for the race since I had eaten breakfast so much earlier, but luckily the pre-workout drink I had right before the race started kept me satisfied well enough.
We lined up at about 7:30, the signature rock music already blaring, and I took off my throw away long-sleeve shirt (thanks Dad!). Before I knew it, the wheelchair participants were being let out and we were next! At the last-minute the changed the start from a wave to a mass start so as soon as the horn blew everyone took off. It was crazy and chaotic and just like usual at the start of a race, I got passed a ton. You could tell some people were eager to get going and took it out way to fast.
The crowd started to thin out into mile 2-3, and I started to settle into a nice groove. I found myself running with the same group of people for a while and started setting my sites on people I could try to stick with throughout the race. I do this as a mental game for myself, so that when things get tough I have someone to look to for inspiration and to keep me moving forward. This method totally fails though as people start to drop off…you end up losing your target!
Luckily around mile 4 a man in a blue tech tee who I’d been running with for a while, came right up on my side and commented on my pace. He said that it was nice and even with great cadence and that we should try to push each other to go the distance. I agreed. Just like my first marathon, I liked the idea of finding someone to chat with and to push me during the race. I was a little nervous to find this person so early, but I could tell he was a solid runner and would be a great person to challenge myself with physically and mentally.
I have to admit, the first ten miles were SLOW. Even with Peter and I chatting, they seemed to tick by at a snail’s pace. Also, were moving FAST. Way faster than I had run the first ten in November’s race and I was scared that I was going to hit a wall come mile 16 or 18. But I felt good in the moment, had good energy and was enjoying my new running buddy.
I took a squeeze pack at mile 8 like I planned on doing and continued to drink water at every aid station. In between water stops, I also drank my Vegan Electrolyte drink that I carry in my Nathan Fuel Belt. Even though the temperature was only in the 50s it was a lot warmer than I had trained in and I knew I’d dehydrate quickly if I didn’t.
Once we hit the half way mark thing started to speed up in terms of pace and feel. The race started to feel like it would come to an end at some point and that I could get through it. That’s when the agonizing out and back portion started. Peter was very upfront and blunt the whole way. He knew the course well, and as soon as we entered downtown Scottsdale he warned me that the next bit (6 or so miles) was the most boring part of the course. We started with a downhill gradient going out and I felt like the wind was with us. That only could mean that on the way back we’d be fighting a headwind and an incline….not something you want to be thinking about when you’re really pushing yourself as it is.
The one part I did like about the out and back portion is that we got to see the leaders come thru. That’s always super inspiring for me and seeing them work so hard gave me that little extra push I needed to keep going.
Once the out and back portion was complete (I’ll mention that I took my second squeeze pack at mile 17), we hit mile 20 and I was steadily holding at 7th place female. 6th place was less than a hundred feet away from me and she looked like she was struggling so I knew I could take her. At this point, I mentioned to Peter that 6 was my lucky number and that it would be so cool to come in 6th place. He said I’d do it and also told me it was time to take off. He was battling a cold and knew he had to slow down if he was going to finish. I took his guidance and picked up the pace.
Over the next 3 miles, I passed the 5th and 4th place runners. I thought about trying to pass 3rd place, but I never even saw her on the course…the top 3 seemed to be so far ahead! The last 3 miles were filled with rolling hills as we came in to Tempe, with one final steep incline right before mile 25. I knew we were finishing in a park area, so once the scenery started looking like that sort of thing, I felt elated to be almost done. With a smile on my face I turned one final corner, started an extra kick to beat the man directly ahead of me, and crossed the finish line in under 3 hours. 2:57:31 to be exact.
Upon finishing, I immediately burst into tears. Not from pain or exhaustion, but ELATION. It wasn’t until around mile 23 that I actually realized that I could potentially come in under 3 hours and the fact that I did overwhelmed me to the point of tears. I immediately called my mom in hysterics and just couldn’t stop saying OMG. She thought something was wrong and told me to call back once I had calmed down a bit. I called my dad, and my aunt too, and both were ecstatic, so proud of me, and in sheer disbelief at what I had just done. I was too.
I gathered my things at the bag check, watched the awards being given out, and took part in the Run Rock n’ Roll festivities. Did I mention I LOVED all the live music on the course?! SO much crowd support too! It was a great course, in a great city, filled with great people.
And now the question on everyone’s mind…how do you drop 15 minutes off your marathon time in less than 2 months?
The honest answer: I have no idea. There’s no secret to my training, special running coach, or strict system that got me to this PR. In fact, I WISH I could give you more details on my running and fitness plan. But the truth is, I am probably the worst person to give advice on training. That’s why I am hesitant to even share how I prepare for these races. It’s all so haphazard and sort of random.
Basically, the only guaranteed things are my weekly long runs. In increase the mileage of my long run every week (not recommended) leading up to the marathon. My longest run being 20 miles 2-3 weeks out from the race. I then ‘taper’ in the sense that I cut down my long run to about 13 miles. I do no speed work, I run all my runs at around the same pace (just because that’s what’s comfortable) , I do full body strength training/circuit workouts at least 4 times a week, I do a core routine and at least a 5 minute plank everyday, and I run outside whenever possible (hate the treadmill). Aside from that, I also get at least 8 hours of sleep every night and eat over 3200 calories a day. That’s it. Truly. There’s not method, there’s no real focus. In fact, I am sort of embarrassed by it all. I could probably be so much better if I worked with a coach or followed a specific plan, but I don’t. I do what works for me. I’m flexible and I listen to my body. I run on days I want to run, I cross train on others, I rest. The only thing I make sure of is that one weekly long run. Other than that, I run how far and how fast I want depending on the day. No rhyme or reason, just based on how I feel that day specifically.
Like I said, I wish I could give you some big secret or helpful tips on how to train, but I just don’t have them. In fact, I would not recommend this style of training to anyone! It’s probably very careless and would not be recommended by top athletes and coaches. That being said, it works for me. We’re all different and sometimes you have to do your own experimenting to find what works.
I hope you’re not upset that I don’t have more to share, but that’s all I got for ya! I received so many questions about my training from you all so I knew I had to address it, but there just isn’t much to say.
So what’s up next, you may ask. I have no idea. Much like my training is very spontaneous and spur of the moment, my next race probably will be too. I am considering running the Buffalo Marathon in May because I’d love to complete one in my hometown, but we’ll see if that happens. All I want for now is to stay injury free, healthy, and happy. I love running and I love the community it creates around me.
Here’s to 2017 full of fun runs, new challenges, and opportunities for growth as an athlete!
Thanks as always for all your support, well wishes, and congrats on achieving this goal of mine! I feel so loved by all of you and it really makes this accomplishment even sweeter. <3Stay connected:Subscribe to Healthy HelperFacebook: Healthy HelperTwitter: @Healthy_HelperInstagram: HealthyHelperPinterest: Healthy_HelperBloglovin’: Healthy HelperGoogle+: Healthy HelperTumblr: Healthy Helper BlogSnapchat: KailaProulxWant to get FREE products for review and make money as a blogger? Check out Linqia!
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