What went right:
- I stayed healthy with no foot pain or injury during training. I never became a slave to my program, mixed in plenty of cross training and was able to line up at the start line fit and ready. Cycling in particular was a great way for me to build aerobic fitness with zero impact.
- My nutrition was great. While training and in the days before the race I was relaxed about my food (more so than usual) but did a great job of eating enough, eating balanced and ridding 99% of junk food from my life. I ran the race at 144lbs, a little heavier than I've done any previous race, but I think also a lot less depleted. I had oatmeal 2 hours before the race and it worked very well for me.
- I slept well leading up to the race, in fact right through training. I even took naps on some long run days. My recovery was excellent with very few moments of post-training soreness.
- My stress levels were very low. I never over-thought or stressed about the event. That made race day enjoyable and relaxing.
- I was lucky with race day weather. I couldn't have begged for a better day to run a marathon.
What could have been better:
- I ate the planned amount of gels during the race (4) and they agreed with my stomach during the run but I need to adjust my timing or try something different to avoid the late marathon bonk. At 28km I felt somewhat tired and at 32km I was low on energy. My first gel was at 39 minutes (odd I remember the exact time) and each one after was about 30 minutes apart. I think I need to squeeze another gel in there timed to give me a boost at around 30km, have some fuel at the start line or start gel intake slightly earlier. Possibly mixing some fat and protein in the form of nuts in a tiny amount. I'll play with things during the next block.
- I'm a pronounced forefoot runner and I don't plan to alter that with mechanics nor do I think it's wise for runners to force a change in form. As a consequence of my running style though my calves do fatigue as they bear a lot of the load. Normally a runner uses a low drop shoe to discourage heel striking and I normally wear low drop shoes. For the marathon I wore a 4mm drop shoe which is comfortable. I'm considering experimenting with a high drop shoe (around 10mm) as I ponder if it will encourage more of a mid food landing and lower the load on my calves.
- My relaxed approach to training still put me in the best shape of my life. Though I ran in a slower marathon than I did in Vancouver in 2015, I'm fitter now for sure. My conservative approach to training though fell short in endurance. I think a similar plan with more focused long runs would be helpful. For example, more race paced running during long runs and at least one run at 38km (my highest this time was 35). To be fair, I had no base when I started training. I recall a 13km run when I started back being a stretch for my endurance as I'd been off running for so long dealing with my foot. The next time I should enter training with a stronger mileage base.
- I never do a great job drinking from those paper cups. I tried to slow my pace at water stations and that helped, but next year I plan to bring a disposable water bottle I can use at least for the first portion of the race.
Each marathon is a learning opportunity. I think that's the appeal of it. So many things can go wrong. The weather, illness, injury or any number of things. A lot went right for me on Sunday and despite a late race collapse, I ended up again qualifying for Boston. It pays to get older as my new age group gave me a 10 minute grace period over my last effort. I was on track for a 3:05 marathon until 32km and I know I can complete one at that pace. The first two thirds of the race felt incredibly easy but as always the truth of your fitness is revealed later on. It's just a puzzle to solve.
Lastly I should talk about post long run nausea. After a few of my long runs and after Sunday's marathon I experienced some extreme nausea. Some research points to various reasons for this and initially I thought it was the food I was experimenting with in the form of more sugary sports products. It's clear now that isn't it. Other possibilities are overheating (that wasn't it on Sunday), dehydration (possible) or another medical issue. Given I still have a couple kidney stones that have set up camp in my body it's possible one of those has decided to start wiggling loose. That would cause the nausea for sure & I intend to investigate that but I don't know why that would only occur post run. Hydration seems the most likely cause. I did a great job of hydrating before the marathon, however it's hard to quantify how much liquid I was able to take in from those water station paper cups. It's a mystery, but one I'm confident I'll solve.