Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Still recovering and pondering lessons learned

I'm still coming back from the immediate post-marathon soreness, but feeling enough better today that the girls and I went for a jogstroller walk around the National Zoo in the beautiful fall weather. They saw elephants and giraffes and a big orangutan came right up and sat directly in front of them and studied my girls as if they were the animals in the zoo. Catherine enjoyed clucking to the chickens in the children's zoo. She was adamant that the cow was a doggie. So was the capybara, for that matter.

Every long race is just training for the next, and I'll try to review and incorporate the new lessons in what works and doesn't work for me into my upcoming jaunt through the five boroughs of New York City.

Feet: I'm going to lose the usual one or two toenails, which is to be expected from running the downhills, and fine with me as long as they're all done doing whatever they're going to do before NY City Marathon. I got a couple of unusual blisters, but fortunately they didn't bother me during the race. Then all of a sudden when I was walking away from the finish line I thought I had a rock in my shoe next to my toe - but no, it was a toe blister! Ugh!

Shoes: My left instep is still quite bruised - it took a pounding from the stretchy triathlon shoelaces that I used and whooops! never adjusted quite properly. Lesson learned: too loose is better than too snug.

Clothing: My clothing worked great. No discomfort or chafing problems there. In slightly colder temperatures I may just throw a long-sleeved Coolmax shirt over the top that I can adjust or tie around my waist on the fly. Add a windproof technical vest and I'm good down to about 50 degrees. Rain - perish the thought.

Fluids and electrolytes: I also have to do some slight adjustments to my fluid and electrolyte intake during my next marathon. For Baltimore I took 10 Succeed caps in 6-7 hours (total 3440 mg sodium, 210 mg potassium) , and hydrated with a hand-held water bottle. The temperatures were actually somewhat lower than I believed during the race, and while I felt hot I must not have been sweating off as much sodium as I thought at the time. Based on some uncomfortable urinary symptoms, I think I ended up slightly dehydrated and/or hypernatremic at the end of the race. Lesson learned: Next time I need to be sure to get at least 20 ounces of water per Succeed cap, and after a summer of training dial back my normal intake rate (one per ~3 miles) a bit in the fall when the temperature drops below 80*F.

Energy: Another lesson learned: I need to use my largest gel flask during a marathon, and perhaps bring some Jolly Ranchers as a light weight backup! I ran out of my homemade gel at around mile 18-20, and relied on commercial gels distributed on course during the race after that. I still can't stomach them. One packet went from my mouth straight into a garbage can because I literally couldn't force myself to swallow it.

Pacing: I may never learn to run even splits in a marathon. Once again, even though I tried to go out slowly and comfortably, I came no where close to running a consistent pace per mile throughout the course. This time I spent about 47% of the time (2:50) before the halfway point, and 53% of the time (3:10) after the halfway point. This time my slowest miles were in the 20-21 range (but in other races it's been anywhere between mile 16 and 24). But although I was tired on the second half, I don't think I had a full-blown bonk like I have in some long races, but the downslope toward the end helped. I think I just need to keep nudging this in the positive direction and understand in my pacing plans that the second half of a marathon is still likely to take me as much as 20 minutes more than the first half. If not, great! I'm sure that more completed long-long runs would help even out the splits a bit and improve my second-half endurance.

Any other obvious lessons that I'm missing that should be slapping me in the face right about now?


mipper said...

i wish i had your knack for analysis. incredible.

Holly said...

Sounds like you have all your bases covered except the one where you vow to "enjoy" the race!

Make sure you smile at least once every other mile!

'Zilla said...

I love how you do this! I think you really maximize your experiences by going through the indepth analysis of what worked and what was less successful. Great job, Nancy!

Comm's said...

This is a good exercise nancy. Picking apart your game and getting refocused for the next event.

have you considered jiggering with your homemade concotion to add more sodium to it. Maybe break up your succedd tablets into it.

nancytoby said...


I thought about that, but the salt just made it taste crappy. I'm good with taking the salt separately, and then I can calibrate that to the heat and my water intake.

Good idea, though!

Ellie said...

"Any other obvious lessons that I'm missing that should be slapping me in the face right about now?"

How about something about "The best-laid plans..." I never have known the rest of that but I can guess.

Your adjustments all sound good. But the marathon is always an unknown! Still, forearmed is, well, forearmed, and you've got all the known issues nailed!

nancytoby said...

"The best laid plans of mice and men go oft astray." - Robert Burns
This saying so impressed John Steinbeck that he titled his novel after it.