A few weeks back I wrote a post all about how I was planning on running my first marathon, and I promised a post race assessment, so here it is!
Well the day has been and gone, and I must say, I enjoyed the experience much more than I thought that I would! The day dawned clear, cool and sunny without a breath of wind – perfect racing conditions.
For me, my nutrition plan was simple – chicken and parsley pasta for dinner the night before with a glass of lemonade, toast with jam and banana for breakfast, some Gatorade on the way to the start line, then a combination of GU and Powerbar gels, along with water at aid stations during the race. At one of the stations I ended up having a Gatorade instead of water, as I knew I needed something, but didn’t feel like having another gel. Nothing like a sneaky carbohydrate mouth rinse to give a near instant little boost!
First half of the race felt easy, as I was told it was supposed to. I saw a few people I knew as I was running (both spectating and racing), and had some lovely conversations with them, and with other competitors. This was something I had been told about, but still wasn’t really expecting; the camaraderie between participants. Chatting about our favourite running music, or about the cute kids giving us high fives made the race much more enjoyable, especially when we saw each other again at the finish line with big smiles for our achievements!
I was still feeling good until a bit after 30km… then it started to get really tough. At around 34km I thought I was going to die. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration…but was definitely the toughest part of the race for me. My partner popped up on the side of the road at the perfect time, gave me a pep talk, and I started to feel better. I was told by a couple of people to smile when it got tough, as this makes it easier, a pearl of wisdom I am more than happy to pass on – it really does work!
5km to go and I realized that I was actually going to finish. The day before the race I got an awesome surprise, my cousin had driven up from Melbourne to support me, which I still don’t know how to convey in words exactly how stoked I was to see him and have him there for the race. Last 3km and both my wonderful supporter boys decided to run along with me (barefoot on the road mind you!). Their support helped me be able to finish the race strongly with a massive smile on my face!
Key learnings for me from the race were knowing for myself that the science is (of course) correct. Being in control of your mind is I think the number one most important thing in an endurance race, as this will govern how you feel and progress throughout the race. Knowing how it feels after the race has also been important for me; I knew that my appetite would be all over the place, not able to eat one minute, ravenous the next, however now I KNOW how this feels!
Most enjoyable parts of the day for me were my mate/colleague Fiona had smashed her previous PB by 17 minutes (still so unbelievably excited a bout this!), that all my clients competing over the weekend did fabulously in their respective races (from the 5km to the marathon), and of course, achieving my own goal of finishing.
Where to next? Time will tell…
Chloe McLeod is a dietitian at BJC Health.
This blog focuses on diet & nutrition generally and diet & nutrition in relation to the treatment of arthritis and arthritis-related diseases. Contact us if you’d like our help in managing diet-related health issues.