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5ksandcabernets: Cowtown Marathon reflections: Food for thought.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cowtown Marathon reflections: Food for thought.

One of my blogging friends, Victoria of FlirtynDirty, left this in my inbox Monday morning:

"I actually don't think you need to slow down. I think it has way more to do with caloric intake (she says, in her totally scientific opinion). ... everyone's an experiment of one, but your times look like a caloric crash-- you're going fine and then you die. That's not needing to go out slower as much as it is needing calories, in my humble opinion.

I agree with what you said in your blog. I think you're totally capable of running a 3:30 marathon."

And in the comments section of my blog came this from Sara from Docstoflopstocrocs: "... maybe you need to tweak your fueling strategy for longer runs. I agree with Victoria that running 26.2 miles with no breakfast is a lot to ask of your body."

Spot a trend?

I need to eat better. No. Make that I need to eat more. The day before the Cowtown Marathon, I had oatmeal and coffee for breakfast; a tuna sandwich and potato salad for lunch; and a sweet potato and chicken noodle soup for dinner. That is less than 1,000 calories. And in the four or five days leading up to the marathon, I don't think I had one day where I had more than 2,500 calories.

No wonder I bonked, or as Victoria called it, I had, "a caloric crash." I was going fine. Averaging an 8-minute mile on little effort through Mile 14. Started feeling bad a little (Body giving me warning signs that the tank was near 'E'). Recovered for one final moment of glory at Mile 17 (8:03 m/m), then the tank was empty.

And I don't mean gradually empty. I mean Empty. Right. Now. Mile 17, up a hill, was completed in 8:03. Mile 18, also uphill somewhat, was completed in 9:18.

Let me say that again. Mile 17: 8:03. ..... Mile 18: 9:18. Of all the miles in the marathon, the the difference of 1 minute, 15 seconds between Mile 17 and 18 was the greatest. And the dropoff in pace would continue. But it started, suddenly, at Mile 18.

I averaged an 8:04 pace the first 17 miles. I averaged 10:13 over the final 9.2 miles.

My race nutrition was a GU and a salt packet every 6 miles. The GU, a Hammer Chocolate, had 90 calories. I took four of them during the race. That's an additional 360 calories. It wasn't nearly enough to keep up my energy. I needed more GUs and I probably needed to take them sooner. And breakfast would have helped. And a sandwich with that chicken noodle soup would have hit the spot. And..

Somewhere around the middle of Mile 25, Nick, one of the Luke's Locker runners, passes me. Now this should come as no surprise because Nick is fast. Problem is, Nick was running an ULTRA. The day after the Cowtown, Nick and I were among a dozen or so at a post-marathon shindig. Nick has run sub 3:10 marathons and I know he has got a sub 3:00 in him. I asked Nick how much he eats. He said he eats about 3,500 calories a day.

"Damn," I said, gulping my beer. "How do you do that?"

"You know, lots of pasta, potatoes, and.." he paused.

"Yeah, and what," I said.

"And I'll eat a whole entire box of cereal if I'm short on calories," he said.

I guess I'll be investing in Raisin Bran stock.
"I'll guess 3:51! Good luck, have fun, and just finish!"
Kevin of JustFinish came within two minutes of predicting my time. Kevin just edged out Myriam of Becauseitis, who guessed 3:50:07.
Lindsay and Ulyana guessed 3:53 on the dot. But they both admitted they "guessed" after reading my race report. Funny ladies.
So Kevin, drop me an email with your mailing address or a P.O. Box, let me know if you like red or white wine, and watch your mailbox.

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Blogger Jenny said...

perhaps you are right on needing more are dead on when you say the marathon is a totally different monster from any other distance. At least you can learn and keep trying instead of giving up!

Congrats on the big PR, though! You are definitely learning the monster!

March 3, 2009 at 7:07 AM  
Blogger Billy Burger said...

WHOA. Are you serious? THAT was your meal leading up to the marathon? No wonder...have you not heard of the most important hyphenated word to the marathoner: carbo-loading?

Carbs are what the human body needs to provide energy to the muscles in the form of glycogen. In the days leading up to the BIG day, it's oh so important to get the carbs in ya to maximize output. It's also important to get something in your stomach come race morning too I think. A bagel, some toast...something.

Carbs + hydration leading up to race day Kev. Ya gotta do it. A bowl of soup and a sweet potato ain't gonna cut it. Oh, and stay away from the Raisin Bran...unless you wanna make repeat trips to the porta-potties come race day.

March 3, 2009 at 7:49 AM  
Blogger Ulyana said...

You are absolutely right! You need to eat. I am fixing the same thing about my training. I try to eat properly and enough. During long runs I now eat gels every half hour, and drink plenty. It makes a HUGE difference. Every six miles is just not enough. And you are a guy... and guys need more calories :)

March 3, 2009 at 3:27 PM  
Blogger Run For Life said...

I'd suggest tracking your calories for about a week or two to get a grasp on what you average and if you need more of anything.

If you search for "BRM" calculators it'll give you your minimum caloric intake to stay alive and a "calories needed" calculator will show you how much you need when you're training for something to maintain your weight.

March 3, 2009 at 5:25 PM  
Blogger Victoria said...

Ooh! I got quoted! How thrilling!

p.s. You can send ME a bottle of any Consilience Syrah when you run your 3:30 marathon. Ha!

March 4, 2009 at 1:21 AM  
Blogger Tom Grant said...

Congrats on the improvement, and sorry it wasnt more. I too have a big problem with eating on the run. It has made me revert back to 10ks and less. I look forward to seeing you sometime on the trinity trails.


March 4, 2009 at 9:04 AM  
Blogger lindsay said...

i'm gonna have to definitely agree here! i wish someone would tell me to eat more!! :) seriously though, EAT! practice with your long runs, eating a big hearty meal the night before (and so you can figure out what works and what doesn't sit so well). you definitely have the endurance, speed and will-power for a 3:30, so fuel up and get ready!

i'm also glad you gave the prize to the rightful winner. accepting it would have been like jumping in the boston marathon at mile 25. lol

March 4, 2009 at 9:36 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

People are different in so many ways. I'm slightly hypoglycemic so I need to eat constantly to keep from getting the jitters. My wife, on the other hand, can eat a handful of peanuts and nothing else the entire day and then run 8 miles at a 7:30 pace no problem. It's crazy! She barely ate the night before the Surf City Half Marathon, then had a half a protein bar in the morning and ran a 1:32 time. WTF! Everybody's body is different and the trick is figuring out what makes you perform at your optimum level. When I was a kid, my dad would buy me Twinkies and a Coke just before a soccer game and I'd be like that kid from The Incredibles for the entire game. Anyhoo, now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

March 5, 2009 at 10:50 PM  

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