Last Sunday, after months of preparation I’ve finished my first marathon distance race. My plan was to get to the finish line in 3:45. It took 14 minutes longer though, but I’m still really happy to do it below 4 hours. Here is what I’ve learned.
Week before race
I was planning to do a proper, 3 day taper, with some speed work and easy runs. Instead I had 3 rounds of physiotherapy, massages, ice baths and needles. There was no specific injury, but my legs were just giving up from the last few months increased load. Thankfully, guys from Sports Lab are freaking awesome and they know what to do to make things better really fast. The fact that they like to inflict pain on others helps as well.
The lesson for upcoming months - use foam roller much more often and make sure not to get my legs to the point when the only option is strapping and needles.
Yes, I’m talking about needles here ;). The worst part is that while acupuncture hurts badly, it actually helped a lot and I think I will just have to get used to it.
Race day morning routine
I woke up at 4 am, had my coffee and protein shake with caffeine, banana and some almonds. Not too much, but enough to not be hungry at all. It was different to triathlon race mornings, as I didn’t have to prepare anything. Shoes, glasses, hr monitor and I was set to go. On my way to Takapuna Beach I drank Hydro X lactate / electrolyte drink. Everything went according to the plan. For triathlon I think I need to wake up earlier, as I need to do pre - race gear check.
My plan (apart from breaking 3:45) was to run easy based on feeling for the first half and then speed up at 30km. The key to successful long distance run is to stay in aerobic zone for as long as possible. I know that. I’ve known that for years now. But did it stop be to go too fast and then suffer? Of course not. Long story short, I ran first half way too fast. I mean I’ve seen the numbers and my average pace was about 5min/km, so about 30 sec/km faster than planned. But it felt so easy. After 21 km it still felt easy. Yet 20 minutes later, it didn’t. My pace dropped to over 6 min/km and I had to walk every couple of minutes. Surprisingly, my quads were hurting most, not my calfs, nor glutes. I finished just below 4 hours, which was actually a nice surprise at that point.
It can be easily seen on the chart that while the first half looks quite good, the second one is pure pain and mess. Lesson learned hard way - Marathon is actually long. Learn. To. Pace. One day I will, I guess ;)
This part actually worked perfectly. I took 6 gels in total, which apparently is crazy amount. and I’ve been told that I should be grateful for my hard stomach. Anyway, this is good, as I plan to use solid food on the bike and gels only on the run during upcoming Ironman New Zealand race. I need to sharpen up in terms of what I need as it would be beneficial to lose couple kgs of fat ;).I’m going to take this week easy and then start next training block before Auckland Marathon. I need to focus more or lowering my heart rate at the first 25 - 30 kilometers to be able to finish strong.
It’s been a while since I was able to cross anything off my list. Good feeling!