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.