25 October 2016

OMG: Last-minute running-a-marathon tips

This is adapted from the North Brooklyn Runners workshop from the 24th of October, where we shared our ideas on how to prep for the marathon. As the Educational Member Program Coordinator, I provided framework and ideas; everyone also shared their own great tips. While this is geared towards the NYC Marathon, you can apply many of the tips to any marathon. Ultras break all the rules, so many of them won't apply...unless, of course, they do!

Last minute tapering...

  • You can't cram in all the last minute training. These last two weeks, it's about maintaining your fitness and resting. Don't try anything new, don't exhaust yourself in workouts.
  • Add in a bit of speed if you can - but nothing you won't recover from.
  • Your mileage should be cut way down - 1/3 of peak to even 1/4 of peak. Less is best.
  • If you haven't trained properly, tell yourself that undertraining is better than overtraining, because with overtraining you risk injury. 
  • Eat normal food, nothing out of control new.
  • Old school carb deprive/carb load is out. 
  • You don't want to carb load w too many carbs. Sorry, you really don't need to eat 18 bagels.
  • Low fiber the day before. If you have stomach issues, pay attention to the fiber you eat. I know a runner who (no joke) does a liquid diet the day before races because of her stomach issues. (Sounds miserable to me, but she swears by it).
  • No beets the day before. No. Just no.
Marathon Expo
  • Try to go earlier so you don't tire yourself out.
  • Buy new clothes/gear is okay; using it race day might not be a great idea.
  • Usually cheap place to buy gels - but so is Amazon Pantry. You pay $6 for a box and you fill it w goods. But don't buy new snacks to try marathon day. No new clothing or shoes for race day!

The Night Before
  • Remember - Daylight Savings - fall behind!
  • Set as many alarms as you possibly can. 
  • Try to get lots of sleep all week long - it will make up if you don't sleep well the night before the race.
  • You should have been hydrating all day long (and all week long really) but stop drinking an hour or two before bedtime. You don't want to wake up to pee 12x.
  • If you can't sleep, try to relax. Meditate, rest as well as you can, maybe even read (but nothing too stressful....like, don't read articles about the current state of politics in the US).

Breakfast and Coffee

  • Only have coffee if you know it works. (Coffee makes you poop.)
  • Low fiber breakfast - no more than 9 grams of fiber.
  • Hydrate - but maybe stop drinking an hour or so before you get on the bridge.
  • Hydration and coffee make it easier to poop.
  • A little bit of protein for breakfast w your carbs - some examples - peanut butter on toast or bagel; banana pancakes (Don't those sound delicious?); maybe even maple pecan oatmeal (small portion); smoothie.
At Fort Wadsworth
  • Stay warm. Bring throw-away clothes to stay warm. Hideous is fine, as long as it's warm.
  • Keep your bib on the bottom layer.
  • They have tea, coffee, bagels, bars, but don't try anything you haven't had before.
  • Keep a disposable water bottle to carry with you into your corral.
First Few Miles - Halfway
  • Use a pace bracelet (available at the expo) to keep track of your pace.
  • Try to stay even to your pace.
  • Don't get too excited too early.
  • High fives are fun, but don't waste time high fiving everyone.
  • Tell spectators to wear bright clothing or carry a specific balloon or sign - it's HARD to see them, and for them to spot use.
  • Tell friends and family to track you with the app.
  • If someone love you, they can see you three times - by Atlantic Terminal, go onto 1st ave up in the 90s, then go to 5th ave to see you one more time before they meet you at the finish.
  • Set mini-goals (vs. "I have to run 12 more miles, shoot me...."): the next water stop, the crowds at 1st Avenue; seeing my BFF at mile 20; that huge TV screen in the Bronx; etc.
  • Grab your cup - pinch it twice if you can.
  • If someone wants to cheer for you, tell them chances are, you might be choking on water right after the aid station, so they shouldn't wait right there.
The Wall
  • Get your calories in early - 100-300 calories is recommended every hour. Most people take a gel every 45 minutes or so (and take it with water).
  • Regular nutrition can help prevent the wall. If you start to bonk, liquid nutrition (gels are great bc they're more calories than Gatorade) will be absorbed faster - and thus help you climb out faster.
  • Send a friend to the Bronx - helps to have someone to look forward to.
  • Set a goal - running in honor of a family member or friend - it's easier to dig deep for someone else than yourself. (I ran in honor of my Uncle Jimmy who died of leukemia; seeing all of the TNT peeps meant a lot to me that year he died.)
The Finish
  • Last mile feels like forever - but the crowds at the bottom of the park ROCK.
  • Don't look at your watch at the finish - it will ruin your finishing photo (and how can you get your photo on the bus then??). The will have your exact time online by the time you're ready to look anyway.
  • Have your family meet you in the family meeting area.
  • If you have a drop bag, add some sandals, socks, complete change of clothes. Also add a tasty snack with some protein if you are picky or if you want something more delicious post race.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Change your clothes if you can - or at least get that wet sports bra off.


  • Go run the next day. You will hate me for saying it, and it can be the slowest run you've ever done - seriously, 16 minute miles is fine - just get out there and DO IT. You'll get some of that crap out of your muscles and feel better. Then, take off the next week if you really want.
  • You will want to eat everything in sight - the next day too. Protein helps with muscle recovery. Try to eat 15-30 minutes after you're done - something w protein.
  • Get lots of sleep. You just trashed your body, your immune system is shaky - get lots of sleep.
  • The engraving on your medal the next day is pretty freaking cool.
  • Pick out your next marathon!!!!

24 October 2016

Hinson Lake 24 Hour 2016 Race Report: Listen to Your Body

Hinson Lake 24 Hour is a race I kind of always have to do. My first time there was a blast - not only did I win it, but I made a ton of new friends. Everyone cheers each other on; there are silly signs around the 1.56 mile loop ("Mount Hinson" at the small hill; "200 miles to South of the Border;" "Woohoa, we're halfway there" amongst others); the aid station food is pretty fantastic; the volunteers are friendly; and the race is super cheap. Plus, it's 2 hours from my sister's place, and I always like to have another reason to visit her and my adorable niece and nephew. Oh, and her husband too. Hi Brian. 

A few days before my race, my old tendon injury flared up a bit. I took off a day, and was glad the race was on softer trails.

My nutrition was good, my sleep was okay, and I was feel pretty excited to run for 24 hours.

Before the race start, several different people, including the RD, came up to tell me I had a win in the bag. I felt all the pressure on me suddenly, and it overwhelmed me. "I'm just going to have fun."

A lot of people out there, kept asking, "What's your goal?" I have various goals, but would rather not share them with people. I had a few people who kept saying, "Well, yeah, what's your mileage?" I'd respond, "All fun miles," and finally one guy I had to say, "LOOK, I don't want to talk about it - why don't you tell me your goals." He was happy to do that, and we had a nice conversation.

In the beginning, I was not topping the leaderboard at all, but I know Hinson. You get lots of people who just come out to run a fast 50k, fast marathon, whatever. People who think they're going to run all night, but don't. I had my pace, which was pretty chill, and I felt good. 

My pace was slower than I would have liked, but I stayed there, deciding to take it a bit easier and see what would happen. Every so often, I felt a twinge in my ankle, but it was definitely better.

Well, better until the 40s. I saw Ray, my coach, and we had a chat lap. He of course is always favor of pushing it, and doesn't really understand the concept of injury. I told him I was going to go to 100k, and then make a decision. I got into the 50s and still wasn't sure. Darkness began falling, and what was I doing out here.

My name was on the leaderboard. I watched myself climb places as people dropped from the race. 

The pain grew. It wasn't a twinge; it was full out pain. I was at mile 59 and starting to hurt.

Two more. I can do this.

I finished those two more - at what cost? I was nearly limping at the end. I didn't take my own advice.

I was in second place.

I walked away.

My tendon was hurting a lot. Did I ruin myself?

I saw Ray, "Maybe you want to just rest and then --"

No, this isn't something an hour or two can cure.

I drove back to my sister's and was there in the morning to wake up with her kids. I took a week off of running fully - and was able to come back to running. Listen first, run later.