If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that my first marathon was an absolutely stellar experience. No doubt about it. Going into my second marathon, I knew that was a pretty uncommon occurrence, but I had high hopes for the next one anyway! I’m not going to get into the ups and downs of training for the marathon, but I will say that I had a mostly injury free training season. The first month or two of training I dealt with a foot injury that really hurt my ability to get in some good speed work early on, but otherwise, I didn’t have to deal with my typical calf or achilles issues, so I’ll take that as a win.
Before the Race
Unfortunately, the Tuesday before the race, I got a cold! It wasn’t the worst cold I’ve ever had, but it did take me out of the game for a few days. In hindsight, this was probably to my advantage because I usually don’t taper the way I’m supposed to. Being sick made me sleep more and take extra careful care of myself.
Normally, I get race anxiety pretty bad. For me, race anxiety doesn’t manifest itself the way that you think when you hear the word “anxiety.” My race anxiety means I do not talk about the race during the month leading up to the race. I’m more than happy to talk about the race and the logistics of getting to the race, my race plan, etc. when the race is more than a month out, but once it starts getting closer, my willingness to discuss the little things decreases dramatically! Knowing this, my dad and I planned everything out about 4 weeks before to make sure that the logistics were all squared away. Little did we know that this time was different! I was perfectly fine with discussing the race – for the most part haha.
Together, we created a race day checklist that had everything from pre-race essentials, stuff I’d need during the race, and everything I might want or need post-race. This was HUGE. And I had everything 100% ready to go in the morning. This was also HUGE.
The Morning of the Race
I chose the NJ marathon mostly because I live in NJ. That being said, I live about 90 minutes away from the race start, so I still needed to wake up around 3:00-3:30 to squeeze in a cup of coffee and a trip to the restroom before heading out the door. Race morning was pretty stress free because of how prepared we were! I packed a date, a little extra caffiene, and a cinnamon raisin english muffin for the car ride there. I don’t normally eat before I run. Infact, I’m a huge fan of intermittent fasting and an even bigger fan of fasted workouts. That being said, race morning is the exception! I did practice eating before I run for my longer runs though.
The drive there was pretty easy! Especially because it was so early in the morning. Once we got within 5 miles of the race, the traffic started ramping up because of all of the runners. This was pretty stressful for the both of us because we weren’t familiar with the area at all. We had absolutely no idea if we were going to be waiting for parking for 5 minutes or 50 minutes. Luckily, it wasn’t too terrible, but once we got to the race start area, things got stressful once again!
The bathroom lines inside were impossibly long and we still needed to get my race bib. We got the bib and tried to find a hidden bathroom (with no luck) so we ended up heading back outside to use the porta potty. The lines were pretty long but I ended up making it to my corral with a few minutes to spare!
First Half of the Race: Miles 0-13
Here’s where things start to get embarrassing… I broke the #1 rule of marathons. Don’t go out too fast. Everyone knows it and everyone says it because it’s true! Too many people (myself included) let the adrenaline carry them away into the shit storm that is starting too fast.
I felt AMAZING at the start. I knew I was going to go out a little too fast for the first mile or so (almost everyone does) but I was also counting on my self control to kick in around mile 2 when I knew I would need to slow down. Plot twist: my self control didn’t kick in. Also, it might be important for me to name my goal for the day! Mostly, I just wanted to PR. I wanted to beat my Philadelphia marathon time of 4:06. My secondary goal was to break 4 hours. For the first 5 miles or so, I was in front of the 3:50 pacer (RED FLAG!) and then the 3:50 pacer passed me.
I still felt great so I told myself I would hang out with them until mile 10. Which I did… and mile 10 turned into mile 13 real quick! At mile 13 I realized that this was not going to be sustainable for the rest of the race, so I slowed down. And when I say slow down, I mean I really slowed down.
Fueling the First Half of the Marathon
The weather was super cool, around 55 degrees and cloudy, for most of the race so I didn’t feel an overwhelming need for water. I mostly relied on Run Gum to keep my mouth moist and give me a steady flow of caffeine throughout the race. I also rinsed my mouth out with gatorade a few times. Around mile 10 I took about half of a gel but I didn’t want any more than that! I knew I probably should have finished it but it was super unappetizing at the moment so I just stuck to half.
My Splits Miles 1-13
Taking a look at my splits, this is a chronic case of going out too fast. I basically got a little slower every single mile from mile 1 to mile 13. Keep reading though, it gets worse, I promise!
Second Half of the Race: Miles 14-26.2
This is where I started paying for my mistakes in the second half. And I paid for them BIG TIME. My form deteriorated and I started slowing down pretty substantially. I was fighting tooth and nail to stay under a 10 minute mile at this point. NOT how I imagined the marathon going at all. From miles 14-20, I was basically hanging on and hoping that the last 10K wasn’t going to be as bad as it was. The moral of the story is clear and overused, but also cannot be stressed enough: DON’T GO OUT TOO FAST.
Fueling the Second Half of the Marathon
This is when the sun started coming out and I started feeling a little thirsty. (Later, I found out I was pretty dehydrated!) I also rinsed my mouth out with gatorade a few times. I started feeling pretty guilty about only taking half of a gel at mile 10 so I took another half around mile 14 and another half around mile 17. Not the best fueling strategy but I didn’t experience any GI distress or anything like that during the race, so I’ll take that as a win!
My Splits Miles 14-26.2
See? I promised it would get worse! I can laugh at this now, but it’s pretty embarrassing! Definitely not one of my proudest races.
After the Race
Immediately after finishing, I felt extremely lightheaded and disoriented! My quads and hamstrings took turns cramping up thanks to dehydration, so I basically grabbed my medal, grabbed a water, and tried to find my dad as fast as possible. He had to park pretty far away because of the roads being closed and the start being so far away from the finish. (This ended up being pretty annoying and making for a bad spectator’s race, by the way.) It took us what felt like forever to walk a little over a mile to the car. I had to take a ton of breaks to try and gently stretch out my cramps.
Once we got into the car I started feeling better because I was able to replenish my electrolytes, but I had NO appetite which is super out of character for me. I force fed myself half of a Vega snack bar and started to feel my appetite coming back, but I didn’t want anything sweet and the chocolate in that bar made me a little nauseous. We ended up going to Whole Foods on the way home where I proceeded to stuff my face with avocado quinoa sushi, lo mein, tofu, and sesame sticks! My body was craving salty foods at this point so this hit the spot!
The Week after the Race
I always schedule a massage the day after my goal race. My massage therapist is a rock star and really does an exceptional job of making sure I’m put back together. I felt completely fine the days immediately following the marathon, except for my quads. They were TIGHT and they didn’t let go at all until 4 days after. This race recap is being written a week after the race and I am feeling back to normal for the most part! I’m able to work out pretty hard at the gym on the elliptical and at home on my new spin bike, but I still need to baby my quads when it comes to running.
I’ll be taking the month of May and June pretty easy with mileage – probably capping out around 25-30 miles/week until I get to start training for marathon #3, The Philly Marathon!
All in all, even though it was a 4 minute PR, I am pretty embarrassed by this race. I was really confident that I was going to break 4 hours for my second marathon, and I blew it by breaking the most important and most obvious rule of marathon running. I also didn’t fuel properly, which is next-level embarrassing because I know how to fuel correctly!