Third Time’s A Charm
I just finished my third full marathon on Sunday July 10, 2011, about ten days ago. And I guess what they say is true…Third time really is a charm! I had the best marathon experience, despite a few mishaps along the way.
Not only did I finish the 26.2 mile race with a PR of 5:06:55, knocking more than 20 minutes off my best time, I finished strong and could have run further if I had wanted to…No I did not really want to, thank you very much, I was very happy to cross the line when I did!
But seriously, I just kept waiting to hit the “WALL”, but never did, never even came close to running in to it…Only parked cars, but that’s another story…
So in light of such a great marathon experience, I decided to look back and think about why it was that I had such an awesome marathon. This is what I came up with.
For starters, my overall conditioning is better this year. I have been walking on average 7-8 miles a day for over a year and a half, setting up a really good base line for my fitness level. Of course walking isn’t enough.
About 3 months before the marathon, I started to get up early to run 6 miles, approximately 4 to 5 times a week, in addition to my walking. Then I was doing my long runs on the weekend. Then about 2 months before the marathon, we started hiking up to the “M” which is about a 620 foot climb above the Missoula valley. It’s a ¾ mile switch back trail up a very steep mountain. We usually make it up to the “M” in about 20-ish minutes, soaking in the beautiful views of the valley below, and then heading back down.
I also finally got dedicated to my strength training this year. And I know that helped immensely.
Another factor that I believe played a major role in my marathon success was the food and nutrition element. We have been on a journey over the last several years to take baby steps towards being smarter and making healthier choices when it comes to food, without being too obsessive or rigid about the whole process. This year I was able to cut my sugar intake a lot. And we also started using portion control…Using actual measuring cups, and not my eyeballs…You can see where that might get me in trouble. J J I wasn’t heavy before, but I was able to drop 10 lbs. I was not even close to being overweight, but by trimming and toning to an ideal race weight, I had less joint pain after my runs, making recovery so-o much easier.
I also know that having my back in alignment for these past 2 years has made a huge difference in my training and ultimately in the great race I had and the easy recovery. I was faithful about going to my wonderful chiropractor every month for my tune up, and going again 4 days before the race itself, just to make sure I was in tip top shape.
These were all things I had control over. I simply stuck with what I knew worked, and implemented a few new strategies. One of my new tactics was to eat pasta with roasted turkey and broccoli for my pre race meal, and then having a delicious bagel from my favorite bagel place, “Bagels on Broadway” right when I got up at 4:30am, instead of the banana and yogurt that I had in previous years. I still had yogurt, but since I had the bagel at 4:30, I waited until just before we left the house to have that.
But there were things I could not control, such as the weather. And what a glorious day it turned out to be. We had a very cool start to the 5th Missoula Marathon. In fact it was so cool, 45 degrees I wished I had kept my knit gloves for the first half hour of the race. But I toughed it out, and the sun came out and warmed my hands up quite nicely.
It was a warm, sunny day, but the sun seemed less harsh, the light almost diffused, and I never got overheated like I did during my first marathon when we had that record-breaking heat wave. (You can read all about that adventure in my book: Running Blind.)
The other thing I don’t have any control over is my fellow racers. As I get closer to town, I rely on the kindness of strangers to help guide me around turns, round-abouts and other potential obstacles. Once again my fellow marathoners and the volunteers and spectators rose to the occasion! Sometimes even grabbing my hand and saying “I’ll take you through this part here because there’s a lot of turns and obstacles.” (Thanks, Joe and Daniel!)
And of course I rely on T to be at our pre-designated spots to give me encouragement and my electrolyte drink and honey pack. Without her support and willingness to get up at the crack of dawn to take me, and then to meet me four or five times along the race course, I know my marathon could not have been as successful as it was!
So not only did I have an incredible marathon this year, my recovery time was almost non-existent. Sure, I was tired and my legs were a little bit sore, but not once did I have trouble walking down the stairs.
After the marathon, we took three days off and went to our favorite lake and camped. There we floated in the lake and sat around the campfire. By day four I was more than ready to run. So I did, running 6 miles that day, in addition to walking another 7 and climbing to the “M”.
So now that I’ve had the best marathon experience I could ever hope to have…the decision looms. I have to contemplate whether or not I want to run the full Missoula Marathon again. Do I end on a high note? Or do I keep riding this rollercoaster that is marathon training?
Hmmmm? What do you think? Leave your comments below!
How ‘bout it?
- Vision Runner