I’ve had a few days to recover and think about my latest race this past weekend. There are a lot of lessons to take away from the Grandfather Mountain Marathon, but these three seemed to rise to the top.
#1: Granola bars are boring.
Most people may see my race day nutrition plan as boring…especially during the race itself. Granola bar + granola bar + granola bar. Hmm…maybe they’re right.
For this race, my energy levels stayed pretty strong throughout the course, with a slight down tick in the final 6 miles. The rationing of pre-race pop tarts 1 hour before the race, and granola bars at miles 6.5, 13, and 19.5 adequately spread out my calorie intake, however, by mile 19.5 the last thing I wanted to do was eat another damn granola bar. I got about half of it down and pocketed the rest.
Some variety may be a key ingredient (literally) in giving me a late-race boost and give me something to look forward to toward the end of the race. Any suggestions?
#2: Water is good…too much water is bad.
Downing bottles of water before the race will inevitably leave you looking for a pee stop about halfway through the race…and that can cause the most awkward 2-3 minutes of a racer’s day.
You see…normally, peeing is rather routine. Walk into the bathroom, do your business, walk out of the bathroom. You don’t think twice about it.
But on a race course…you think about it for miles. Without a restroom in sight, a number of key factors go into selecting a suitable relief location.
- Will anyone see me?
- How far out of the way do I have to go?
- Will I be in earshot?
- Is that poison ivy?
- What are the odds a car comes down this path in the middle of my business?
As you can see…it’s an involved process. And finally, when you’ve found the perfect spot and begin, you have to keep a look back toward the trail/road to make sure nobody else had the same idea.
The worst part?…When you get just far enough off the race course to pee where you can see the runners through the trees, but they can’t (hopefully) see you. I’ve never peed so quietly and tried harder to not make eye contact with someone in my entire life.
#3 You have to train harder for the last 6 miles than the first XX miles.
Maybe this is a fat guy-specific problem, but in every race of mine, there seems to be a switch that gets flipped with 6 miles to go. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 50K or a marathon, that last 10K is always a pain (or pains) in the ass and many other body parts.
Because I don’t train for it, and neither do most runners. Long runs generally build up to 22-ish miles for a marathon and 26-ish miles for a 50K. This may be a solid plan when finishing is the primary goal, but to qualify for Boston, those last 6 miles need to be strong…and possibly stronger than the first 20.
I guess long runs may turn into long-er runs in the future.