Delaware Marathon: Reflections Part 1

Hey there, I’m back!

I had to go on a quick work trip shortly after I posted my recap, but I’m home now and I think I’ve fully digested the experience that was Delaware.

Delaware Marathon Race RecapCharissa brought up the good question of my fueling/nutrition during the race, which I had completely skimmed over (to keep the post from getting excessively long). My intended strategy for the marathon was:

  • 4 GUs at miles 5, 10, 15, and 20 (I had chocolate coconut, vanilla, espresso love, and caramel machiato flavors).
  • Drink water/Gatorade at almost every aid station (I wasn’t carrying water).
  • Hydrate well the day before (I think my mom and I did this).
  • Have a big, hearty lunch with a good balance of carbs and protein the day before and a lighter dinner that’s low on fiber.
  • My pre-race breakfast was a GF bagel with almond butter and jam and half a banana.

Everything went according to plan up until around mile 20. I had done my GU’s almost as scheduled, with a little variation to try to do them closer to water stops so that I’d be able to wash them down. Those things really stick to your mouth on a hot, dry day.

Around mile 20 was when I started feeling pretty horrible. I tend to think of myself as having an iron stomach (which is generally true), but I was feeling pretty queasy by this part of the race. I went to do my last GU and immediately felt my stomach say no no no. I held onto it for probably around a mile, hoping to try to suck it down slowly, but I just couldn’t. I tried to decide which would be worse – to do the GU and possibly throw up (seemed like a definite risk) OR to completely skip it and try to get some calories from Gatorade at the water stops. After a while, I decided to go the Gatorade route.

Looking back, I can’t believe I didn’t fuel at mile 20, the spot where my glycogen reserves would have been the most depleted and where I needed it the most. Is it seriously any surprise that from mile 20 on, my splits were almost a minute slower than what I’d been averaging the rest of the race? Yes, part of that was probably the heat, but I can’t help but wonder if things might have looked a little different if my fueling had been better for that final 10k.

I think I need to experiment with this before my next marathon. I learned that doing 5 GUs in the span of 4 hours might just not be right for my body. In the future, I might try some salt tablets as well. I do tend to sweat a lot, so I think those could be helpful.

All in all, I think the race was a good reminder for me that while I’ve been running for years and am very experienced at the half marathon distance, the marathon is a whole different animal. My first marathon was 2 years ago and I really wasn’t racing that one with the competitive spirit that I approached Delaware with. There was never much of a chance that I was going to master something as difficult as a marathon on a second attempt, but that’s part of the thrill. Now, I have years and many marathons to look forward to PR-ing in. 🙂

So like the crazy runner I am – I’m happy with my 3:57 – but already thinking about how I can improve on that. 🙂 Once my toenails heal of course.

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2 thoughts on “Delaware Marathon: Reflections Part 1

  1. First of all CONGRATS on the 3:57! You broke 4 hours on a really tough day. CONGRATS. I need to go back and read your recap, but I just got through this. I know that feeling of feeling so sick over GUs and not wanting them. In the moment, it’s easy to say, meh, I’ll pass. Even on my best days, GU often makes me feel very nauseous after I’ve had 3-4 of them. I do 5 during a marathon – one every five miles, and then one last one whenever I want in the last 10k. Choking down that last one is TERRIBLE. One thing that helps is having something salty in the later miles of the race because most likely, your stomach is sick of all of the sweet – sweet GU, sweet Gatorade – it’s too much sugar, but you need it. It’s why I often grab a cup of beer whenever I see a beer stop and take a few sips. It actually helps settle my stomach. Of if I see someone with pretzels. Helps SO much. You did FABULOUS!

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