Thank you all so much for your thoughtful comments and support from my race recap. No one truly understands how disappointing this sport can be and how much passion we have for it, except other runners.
As more time has passed, I have been able to remove myself from the emotion of the race and do a little more analyzing of how things played out and (more) lessons I can learn. Also, thanks to many of your comments, I was reminded of a few other things that I probably knew subconsciously, but hadn’t given much thought.
How about some bullets? (With some *stolen* pics thrown in for the fun of it). Let’s start with the “Before”:
- Stress from moving: Okay, so this was kind of like my elephant in the room from the time I found out we were moving the week before the race. Moving is apparently one of the top 3 most stressful events that you can encounter in life. I knew this. But I didn’t have much control over the dates and since I typically handle life disruptions pretty well, I thought I could manage. And most of all I didn’t want this to be an excuse as to why my race didn’t go as planned. The week leading up to race day, I was physically exhausted. The weekend before, I could barely pull myself off the couch to go for a run and I was sleeping 10 hours a night plus napping during the day. I attributed this to taper sluggishness, but ultimately, I know it was also related to the stress of moving. Although I had more energy in the days before I flew out to Eugene, my body generally felt exhausted. There isn’t much I could have changed about this, except maybe to accept that it was a factor and consider readjusting my goals.
- Over stimulus: Part of the reason that I chose this race is because so many of my friends were traveling to Eugene to run. It was a huge reunion and I wouldn’t change any part of that. BUT, I am the kind of person who wants to talk to everyone, wants everyone to like me and wants everyone to have a good time. All of these things require a lot of energy in group situations. Constantly worrying “Did I say the right thing?” “Did she know I was joking?” “Was that a rude comment?”can be draining. I told myself that I would try to stay focused and not get too caught up in everything going on, but it is just in my nature to jump right in and be myself rather than keeping to myself and reserving energy. Again, I wouldn’t change a thing, but I do know that in the future, big group races shouldn’t be my “A” goal marathon.
- Over analyzing Race Strategy: I would say 75% of the talk in our house leading up to race day was about each of our respective pacing strategies. It’s no secret that I have been training for a sub-3:35 marathon. Yes, that is a BQ, but it is also a time that I truly feel I am capable of. In the days leading up to the race, and after my 1/2 PR in NYC, I was convinced that I could run closer to 3:30. I still believe that on a perfect, day I could run a 3:30, but instead of wasting so much time and energy worrying about my pacing strategy, I should have just gone out and RUN.
- Nerves? Pressure? I am not sure why I put so much pressure on myself for this race. There was no external pressure, but I put a ton on myself. I knew I wouldn’t be happy with “just” a PR. I wanted to have the perfect race, and I told myself that was the only acceptable outcome. I typically only run one marathon a year and I put all my “eggs” in the Eugene basket which certainly didn’t help. I need to learn to just relax, enjoy the moment and RUN!
- Taper strategy & mentality: I felt most ready to run this marathon around weeks 11 – 12 of training. I was in the midst of the biggest weeks I had ever had and was constantly getting the positive feedback of solid workouts. I felt confident and strong. Then as I tapered, my focus was on other things…not just because of the move but when I reduced my mileage, I wasn’t constantly gearing up for or recovering from a run. Naturally my life didn’t revolve around training anymore. This happens to me every time I train for a big race and it always makes me feel detached from my training at the very end. I am not sure how to avoid this without skipping taper altogether. I think a shorter taper may be one way to help, but I would love other suggestions on how to avoid this?
Now for the “During”:
- Bathroom stops: In my race recap I mentioned that my one regret was the bathroom stop at mile 6, because it was premature. But as I look back, I realize that the stop wasn’t the only mistake. The real mistake was how I reacted to it. Assuming I lost 30ish seconds while stopped, I would have had to run a 7:30 mile to end up with the 7:59, that I clicked over in the next mile. I then followed that up with a 7:40 mile. It was a downhill section, so I didn’t feel like I was working too hard, but throwing down miles that are 30 seconds faster than marathon pace in the early miles of a race aren’t really good pacing strategy. If I have to stop again in the future, I will just pick back up at my “normal” race pace and consider that time lost. (Side note: I have NO idea why I had to stop in this race for the first time ever, other than my body just wasn’t in it that day.)
- Managing my adrenaline: Another thing I mentioned in my race report is how I get so excited to see friends or family in a race that I get these huge adrenaline spikes…followed by dips in energy. This happened when I saw my family in Houston, when I saw Brad and my friends at the beginning of the run in Augusta and it happened again in Eugene. I love having support on the course, but I need to learn to calmly smile and wave in the early miles and save the adrenaline spikes for mile 20+ when I need them!
- Salt tabs: If you have been reading for a while, then you know that I swear by Nuun & SaltStick tabs to prevent cramping in long distance races. I have used salt tabs for long races and training rides for a few years now. Since I trained throughout the winter this year, I didn’t use them during training, but figured it would still be fine to use them in the race since I have used them in the past. I took one about an hour before the start and another after running for an hour. Shortly after I took the 2nd one, my stomach felt really full. I have never experienced this before and it was pretty uncomfortable. I wasn’t positive that the salt tabs were the cause until I tried a tab an hour into my run yesterday and had the same feeling. I guess my body just isn’t used to them anymore. Probably not the best move to try something you haven’t used in 6 months on race day?!
I have heard over and over that you can learn something from every race. And that it is the *worst* races where you can learn the most. This absolutely holds true for me with the Eugene Marathon. I know I will get redemption for this race and I also know that when I do FINALLY break 3:40 (this was my 3rd time trying) and get that elusive BQ (2nd time trying), it will be A-MAZING and completely worth it.
I was going to have a disclaimer about reserving the right to only post pictures of me that look *good* on the blog…but what fun would that be when gems like this exist on the internet? Also, let’s not discuss the hip collapsing going on in this pic (and many others). Anyone got any good hip strengthening exercises for me?