So I still haven’t come down from racing on Sunday. Chicago thoughts are still racing through my head. After posting the recap, I got to thinking about how I prepared for the race, and all of the things that actually went the way I wanted them to. Here is what I am attributing to PR’ing in Chicago.
1. A solid taper
3 weeks out from the race, I completed my last long run of 22 miles. From there, I slowly decreased my mileage each week, logging only 9 miles the week of the race. I felt like crap the whole time – that is, until the day before race day. When I did my 20 minute shakeout run in Chicago, I knew that my taper was perfect. I felt unstoppable, and ready to conquer that 26.2 the next day. You will
hear see me say this time and time again – Trust Your Training! You will not be sorry!
2. Lots of rest
Running races in new (to me), big cities is always tricky. All that I want to do is go out and explore, but I know the best thing is to relax a bit so that I don’t tire myself out. Back in 2010 when I ran NYC, I was on my feet for a solid 2 days before the race. It was ridiculous. For Chicago, I knew that I would not be able to do this and have fresh legs. To prevent overdoing it, I scheduled one activity per day on our trip. We were there for 5 days, so it was pretty easy to not worry about having to over schedule our trip.
2. Compression Socks
I wore my CEP compression sleeves everywhere! I put them on the second I woke up in Tampa before heading to Chicago, and pretty much only took them off to shower between then and the race. I really felt such a big difference with the sleeves on, and I knew it would increase my circulation while flying. I also wore them during the race, which is something I have really grown to love. They also helped with those cold temperatures too!
3. Eating well
Starting around Thursday, I started to up my caloric intake – nothing crazy, but I would eat a little bit more at meals, and be sure that I was always full. I don’t tend to carbo-load. It doesn’t work for me. I hardly ever eat pasta, so I am surely not going to start the week of a race. The night before the marathon, my dinner consisted of a bbq chicken pizza. I have been loving that lately, and thought it would be a perfect pre-race meal. I left the restaurant feeling full, but not stuffed. I also kept fiber to a minimum so that I would not have any GI distress during the race.
4. No alcohol
This is (to me) a no-brainer. I am not one for drinking anyhow, but I do not have any alcohol in the weeks leading up to a race. It is calories I just don’t need, it leaches my body of water, and it will cause my immune system to tank. These are all things that can really hurt you leading up to race day. Wait until after the race for those celebratory drinks – you will have definitely earned them.
5. Lots of water
A lot of runners start drinking a lot of fluid the day before, but it is important to really start hydrating the week of the race. It will help to flush the bad stuff out of your body (think possible sickness) and have you in tip-top hydration shape for race day. Remember not to drink too much – hyponatremia is a real thing! Just have the right color of pee, and you are all set!
6. Consistent Fuel during the race
I have always carried some kind of fuel with me during races. I tend to wait until I feel like I need it, but that has always proven to be too late. For the Chicago Marathon, I decided that I would take 2 Gu Chomps in 5 mile increments. It didn’t matter whether or not I wanted it. I was going to take it. I actually stuck to it, and washed them down with cups of water. Then, in between Chomp fueling, I would grab a cup of Gatorade and take that. I was pretty much having some sort of caloric intake each 2 to 2.5 miles, which seemed to work really well for me. If it were warmer out for the race, I would have most likely had to stop at more water stops, but the weather was on my side for this race!
7. Starting Slow
Out of everything that I did, starting the marathon at a slower pace than usual is what had me PR. I have shot out of the start corral too many times, and felt my legs become led around the 21 mile mark. It is the worst feeling ever when you can see 18 weeks of solid training slipping away from you, just because you were over eager at the start. I had to physically slow myself down for the first 5k. It was annoying, and I had people passing me left and right. The difference? I was the one passing everyone in the last 6 miles. I didn’t hit a wall, and know it was because I relaxed at the start and just experienced the race.