I promise this will (probably) be the last follow up post to my Toronto Marathon experience. Bonking so early in the race has led me to scrutinize every last detail in order to come up with a possible explanation. I don't believe any one item on this list is significant enough to have affected my race so much; potentially two or more factors played a role, or perhaps all of this is irrelevant. Either way, I needed to work through this in order to move on.
"Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward." -Vernon Law
As I emphasized in my race report, I was not a fan of the 9AM start. I think this is a terrible idea for any marathon, since it means the majority of participants are still running well into the afternoon. I think it could have been an issue for me since I never start running at this time; weekend long runs start nice and early (never after 8AM) and weekday runs are either very early or in the evening. RoadBunner addressed this in her Humboldt Redwoods Marathon race report which also had a 9AM start, stating that her body starts "expecting all sorts of creature comforts like a real breakfast, bathrooms that flush, and lunch before my finish time." Exactly!
Menstrual Cycle (sorry gentlemen, you may want to skip this part!)
Thanks to BCP I have a completely regular cycle. I realized that I was going to end up having my monthly visitor on race day, so I decided to 'cheat the system' and continue taking hormone pills for the week when I was supposed to stop (thereby preventing me from having said monthly visitor). I've done this many times before without an issue, but never for a marathon. Maybe it wreaked havoc on my system?
Hubs thinks I didn't eat enough leading up to the race. I am more inclined to think that I wasn't eating enough of the right things leading up to the race. For some reason, I had a lot of trouble getting a grip on my diet over the last couple of months and I wasn't nearly as conscious of what was going into my mouth. As a result, my weight was also higher than I'm comfortable with. (This is something I will be working on in the coming months, starting with Matt Fitzgerald's book Racing Weight, which hubs and I are both reading at the moment - review to follow.)
Heart Rate (Nerves)
My nerves definitely got the best of me. I had a terrible time falling asleep the night before and noticed as I lay in bed (and then on the couch) that my heart was pounding. I could not get myself to relax. This continued on race morning as I tried to force my breakfast down, but that didn't go very well either. My nerves were literally making me sick to my stomach - no fun at all. Miraculously, I calmed down by the time we lined up and felt the pressure lift once we got started. Is it possible that I had worked myself up so much that it was detrimental to my race?
Too Much Taper?
I'm starting to think that less taper might work better for me. Some of my best races have been completed without tapering whatsoever (Chilly Half, Around the Bay 30K, Waterfront Half). It may be worth experimenting with less taper for my next marathon. This is something that hubs has been researching and is experimenting with himself. All I know is that I start to feel sluggish after a three week taper, as though I'm losing momentum. Correctly executed peak and recovery weeks with a less significant taper might be beneficial.
So.. those are my thoughts. As I mentioned above, I don't necessarily believe that any or all of the above factors had a significant impact on my race. I feel better for having worked through and come up with some potential ideas, though of course I will never know for sure. Thanks for sticking with me and for the continued support. Now we can move on to other topics. :)