Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Reflections

Post-Race Recovery


Looking back on Sunday, I am overcome with elation. It was an emotional day and I'm glad to have conveyed that through the race report. Thank you so much for your comments and feedback, and mostly for believing in me all this time.

Now that I've made it into the 3:XX:XX category of marathoners, I've taken some time to look back at my previous times and what it took to get here.

Marathon #1: Sep. '08 - 4:42:04
Marathon #2: Sep. '09 - 4:26:02
Marathon #3: Jan. '10 - 4:48:03 (Goofy Challenge/"fun run")
Marathon #4: May '10 - 3:58:56


In less than eight months, I shaved 27 minutes off my previous PR. Looking at the big picture, there are a couple of things that I believe to have played a major role in such a significant improvement:

1. Goofy Challenge

I trained for and completed the Goofy Challenge immediately before beginning training for #4. Through back-to-back long runs culminating in 63.3KM (39.3mi) of running over two days, I learned to push myself to a new level. I built a great deal of endurance and carried it with me into my next training cycle, incorporating many back-to-back long runs in an effort to practice running tired. This also allowed me to start training with a very strong base.

2. Weight Loss

Starting in December of last year, I made some significant changes to my eating habits. I taught myself to look at food as fuel for running, reminding myself that garbage in = garbage out. I definitely had my "treat days" but started eating much better overall and managed to lose 15-17 lbs before marathon #4. I began to notice an improvement in my running as the weight came off. My body handled distances better and I naturally got faster. Don't get me wrong - I worked at getting faster too, but there's no doubt in my mind that losing weight had a tremendous impact.

On a related note... I focused on nutrition even more in the weeks leading up to this race. I adopted the motto Eat Like An Athlete and cleaned up up my diet as much as possible, eliminating all alcohol, most processed sugar and unnecessary fats. When I eat well, I feel better and RUN better and I know this has helped me improve my running this year.


Here's what worked for me on race day:

  • Carrying my 22-oz Nathan handheld allowed me to skip most water stops and ensured that I always had my own fluid. I hate fuel belts, but carried my handheld on every single long run so I would get used to it; it didn't bother me one bit.


  • My new waist pack was perfect for carrying gels, salt, my iPod and anything else. I had ordered a new belt from iFitness, but it didn't arrive in time. Fortunately, this was a perfect alternative and will become a staple accessory.


  • SaltStick salt caps were perfect for electrolyte replacement. They pack a strong punch (215 mg sodium, 63 mg potassium, 22 mg calcium, 11 mg magnesium and 100 IU Vitamin D), so just two capsules are often enough (I decided to take three). I liked that I didn't have to worry about taking in gatorade (I prefer to stick with water) and these were easy to carry and swallow. I had no issues with cramping.


  • I was truly spoiled with support on the course and this had a very positive effect on my race. Getting encouragement from familiar faces along the way and at the finish (not to mention Coach Don by my side most of the way) was invaluable and made me feel good even when it got tough.


  • Writing "BELIEVE" on my hand with a Sharpie marker. It may sound cheesy, but I looked down at my hand to read it countless times. Kudos to Tall Mom who drilled this word into my head in the weeks leading up to race day.



So... what's next?

Coming up in less than six weeks I'll be running Rock 'n' Roll Seattle with some awesome bloggy buddies and I couldn't be more excited. I'll be using the Pfitz "Multiple Marathoning" plan as a guide to recover, build, then taper again in the coming weeks. I'm not sure what to expect from my body in terms of another marathon next month (!!!), but it will be interesting to find out. The priority is to have fun and stay healthy.

I met up with the group for a nice and easy ~4 mile run tonight. I felt pretty good with the exception of tender quads. I'll be taking it easy for the duration of this week and essentially running whatever I feel like (not much).


More race photos coming soon...

49 comments:

ajh said...

I just bookmarked this so I can refer back to it and think about what worked for you. I have never tried salt tablets. I may give them a try. Congrats again.

ShutUpandRun said...

I LOVE THAT PICTURE OF YOU!!! Yes, I am shouting! So cute. Is that koolaide or something stonger? You have shaved SO much time off, you must be doing a lot right. Congrats again.

J said...

I think all your training was so solid this time around that you had everything together for this one! Glad you are recovering well! Keep enjoying the awesome PR!

Aneta said...

u an amazing person/woman/athlete/sub 4 hour marathoner, etc!

Barefoot AngieB said...

That picture is awesome!!! You should frame it or something, for real!!

Such improvement, its very inspiring :)

Jamie said...

Such a great pic! You have done amazing stuff over these past few months! Congrats on everything!

Teamarcia said...

Nice analysis! I love the recovery pic--relax and enjoy--you earned it!

yumke said...

Six weeks between marathons will be fun, though you`ve already started running again! (I admit, I did 10 miles today cause it was so nice out).

Question: Where did you find salt caps. I haven`t really looked for them but am intrigued. I am getting stick of downing pretzels.

Bethany + Ryan said...

live and learn, right? imagine how much more you'll learn/know after the next 4!! :-) when i look back on marathon #1 i think, what the heck were you doing/thinking?!? LOL. i had no clue! goes by fast tho, don't you think? eek, #17 in less than a month! so glad to hear you are still riding that high!! :-)

Madison M. said...

I love the recovery socks! They look so bright and exciting! :)

I'll be running in the RNR Seattle Marathon as well.. It'll be my 1st Marathon and I'm soo extremely excited!! :)

MCM Mama said...

You've done a great job improving your speed and endurance! I'm so impressed by you. Enjoy the recovery phase.

lish said...

Congratulations...I have been following your blog for a bit...I am just starting to train for Chicago Marathon...you are a true inspiration!! It is also nice since I am a fellow Ontarian...Amazing reflections...Thanks for the post. What a great picture.

Badgergirl said...

You look so relaxed in that picture! Love it!

runnernic.com said...

It's so interesting to hear what does and dosent work for other runners!! :-) thanks for sharing!!

I love the pink socks! I need some! :-)

H Love said...

great pic and rocking socks. I can't wait to be running again and working towards those LONG miles. do you stretch after running or use a foam roller?

sneakersister.com said...

I'm so confused. I swear I'm coming in here and leaving comments but they always seem to disappear.

Marlene, I had so much fun preparing for my marathon alongside you since we both ran them on the same exact day. I knew you would have a great race, you have had some fantastic workouts and runs leading up to the marathon.

I think you are spot on with your analysis as to what worked. Salt caps are definitely a great tool to use in the long runs and races. After using them for the past year I am a firm believer in how much they help the body. I used only salt caps and water in the marathon last weekend as well. Around mile 18 I did end up taking a gel but I didn't really need it. I just felt it might help me attack some of the hills better. There is no way of knowing whether or not it worked, I believe in gels less and less.

As for the weight loss, hands down that is a big part of it, too. I'm down 5 lbs from my last marathon and at a weight I hope to now maintain (don't want to lose any more.) I'm certain that your "athlete diet" helped with that a lot. It's such a better way to eat and our friend, Heather is a wonderful resource for great food ideas. (Don't you just love the internet and the networking?!)

Mileage - yes, the more consistent mileage we can maintain, the more it will help. You know I was doing those 10-12 mile runs twice during the week, that made the first half of the race breeze by as if it was nothing. I remember getting to mile 15 and getting so excited because I didn't really feel like I had been running that long. Endurance is the biggest focus for me when training for a marathon. The more the better, yet I'm not a big proponent of 70 (or even 60) mile weeks. But piggy-backing training cycles definitely helps.

I firmly believe that the next time you train to attack a marathon, you are going to surprise yourself and totally kick some butt!!

Keep running strong Marlene!

Laura said...

All of your seriously hard work has so paid off. I am very happy to be back into training - not training = less than stellar eating habits.

Mel-2nd Chances said...

You have absolutely worked so hard, and you were rewarded for your efforts, and you look amazing!!!

Staci Dombroski said...

That picture is AWESOME!!! I had to look at those stats again! I can't believe how speedy you are and how much you have improved! It just goes to show all the hard work that you have put it!

TNTcoach Ken said...

Now the hard part! What will my Canadian Idol do for an encore????

Denise said...

marlene, it's been so fun to watch you over the last 8 months. you have come so far and your times prove it. you look amazing and are racing like a rock star!!

rest up, recover and get ready to tackle the next one!!

Laura said...

Our coach sent us this link as well...video of the finish line:
http://finishcam.com/Canada/Mississauga-Marathon-2010/

Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

BELIEVE!!! Hey anything I can do I will do. I am sooo proud of you and look forward to meeting you next month. Yes, lets have fun.. Maybe we can convince Amanda to run for fun.. Will see :)

Sub 4 or Fun, either way is fine with me..

Kim said...

You look so happy!! Congratulations on all of your accomplishments!

ShirleyPerly said...

I'm not really a pink lover but think those socks look GREAT on you!!

I too ran a PR a few months after Goofy, not as big as yours though. Congrats again!

Emz said...

That photo is completely awesome.

AMAZING to shave off some much time between marathon #1-4.

excellent. :)

dietitianontherun.com said...

Your accomplishments in running over this past year is nothing short of amazing! Reflections of a LOT of hard work and serious dedication that is not come by easily :) You should bask in the glory of these for as Loooong as you want!!

I loved the section on the "healthier eating" and weight loss. you are SPOT ON with that stuff - the lighter you are, the faster you will go! (To an extent, obviously. And not to portray that in an unhealthy way! But, it does have an effect on speed :) ). Losing that weight is yet another thing to be proud of!

and p.s. I LOVE that picture. It's perfect. Vino glass n' all...heh

dietitianontherun.com said...

Your accomplishments in running over this past year is nothing short of amazing! Reflections of a LOT of hard work and serious dedication that is not come by easily :) You should bask in the glory of these for as Loooong as you want!!

I loved the section on the "healthier eating" and weight loss. you are SPOT ON with that stuff - the lighter you are, the faster you will go! (To an extent, obviously. And not to portray that in an unhealthy way! But, it does have an effect on speed :) ). Losing that weight is yet another thing to be proud of!

and p.s. I LOVE that picture. It's perfect. Vino glass n' all...heh

runkerarun said...

Beautiful! That's an amazing PR... 27 minutes! Congratulations :)

dietitianontherun.com said...

p.s. thanks for the shoutout Sneakersister!!! :) Xo Always happy to help.

Mistyfied said...

Congratulations on your race and weight loss.

TMB @ RACING WITH BABES said...

Totally saving this post. It's going to come in handy one day when I reapproach the marathon!

Sarah said...

Love that photo!!! I also have the hot pink compression socks. :) Congrats on a great race!!

RunningLaur said...

That's a prefect photo of recovery and celebration!

I'll for sure be looking back at this - I know that all of your hard work will be inspiration and a guide for what I need to do to become a stronger, faster runner!

aron said...

great post - everything you have done and been doing totally paid off!! i totally agree with everything you said :) cant wait to see what kind of fun you have in seattle!!! man i wish i was going to be there to run with you guys :)

RoadBunner said...

Wow! You have made amazing progress!

While a sub-4 is a bit of an outrageous stretch for me your times give me inspiration that maybe I could get faster :) I am curious, were your other previous marathon times true race attempts or were they cycles when something was off an you knew you could do better?

Enjoy your recovery! You will be totally fine for your marathon next month ;)

Meg Kathleen said...

Way to go! It's inspiring me to reexamine my eating habits. I'll be running the Seattle rock n roll half! That is if this injury that has sidelined me for the last 3 weeks gets better...

destination262 said...

Thank you so much for sharing your tips and tricks for a successful marathon. It's great to learn from you - a marathon veteran. And it's even cooler to hear that you are learning new things too as you go. I am curious about those salt tabs and will have to look for them soon. I am so happy to hear about your success in running. It makes me want to keep on doing what I'm doing. Congrats!!!

Mark said...

Marlene, I really like the socks! You are really a great runner and the best is yet to come. Enjoy!!

Jess said...

I like carrying water in a handheld too!

Heather said...

You just have had an amazing ride - so much accomplished!

N.D. said...

you did awesome. What a great ride it has been!

joyRuN said...

Such an inspirational post on your road to sub-4 AWESOMENESS!!!!

Your race report was similarly motivating, especially the part at 39KM where you made the choice to keep working to reach your goal.

Very cool.

The Happy Runner said...

Great post. It's always so interesting to look over what led to success. As I followed your training for your sub-4, I was constantly impressed by how well it was going. All of your work paid off. Congrats again!

lindsay said...

i'm surprised you're not surrounded by wine bottles ;)

glad you are still living on cloud 9 and enjoy these next few weeks gearing up for *another* one! i guess i can't talk though now can i... lol.

Samantha said...

I really like reading through your blog. You've run a lot of the races I am planning to run so its great to read about your experiences as I gear up for them over the months ahead.

On The Road... said...

Thanks for being an inspiration! I've been slacking lately and letting my personal problems prevent me from running, but reading your posts and several others, my interest and confidence is building again. Thank you. Granted I've only done 5Ks... I have a 10K this fall and a half (maybe) this fall also.

Runner Leana said...

I've got to say that you are looking great! It is obvious that your healthy eating has had a huge impact! So true, garbage in = garbage out.

It is amazing to see the progress you have made in your marathons!

Chic Runner said...

love the reflection post and the fact that you worked your butt off to get to where you are :) Your hard work paid off!