Thursday, October 25, 2012

Race Notes for CIM

I'd rather be fast than pretty.
Since the Detroit International Half-Marathon went well for me, I wanted to take down my approach to the race, both before and during, so I can do enough of the same things ahead of the California International Marathon to ensure I feel prepped. This is more like a series of notes than a proper blog post--apologies for that. It also doesn't say anything about training. I'm leaving that in Darren's capable hands.

The Week Before: This was about minimizing stress. I was in bed by 8:30, lights out by nine, every night that I could be, including the night before a library workshop I co-presented up in Keystone the Thursday before the race. I also skipped a shake-out run (on Friday) because Dan and I were traveling, we'd had a stressful evening and morning with the kids and had ended up almost missing our plane. We also found when we arrived in Detroit that Dan was feeling sore-throatish. I had no desire to push it with him not feeling 100%, so we sprung for room service that night and slept 12 hours afterwards. The one piece of business I did take care of was collecting my bib and getting my corral changed from the very-back one to the third one from the front. But I didn't linger that day at the expo. I needed to rest and knew it.

The Day Before: On Saturday I did the "race prep" workout Darren scheduled for me. It amounted to about 2 miles with some race-pace pick-ups. I did it on the hotel treadmill, not wanting to stress my back or my twingy hamstring with more concrete than I had to. I was so cautious I actually did most of the warm-up part on my old friend the recumbent bike. Race pace felt really fast to me, even at sea level, and I shook my head at the idea that I could do that for 13 miles. Just goes to show you.....the day before does not necessarily indicate what the day-of will be like.

After that, I went back to the expo with Kathy, Melissa, Tina and Kelly. It was fun, distracting and I got some good deals on shirts for Dan, socks and some Shot Bloks. But this is something I would *not* have done had I been running the marathon instead of the half. In California, I plan to spend the afternoon before the race on my bottom in the hotel room drinking water and watching movies.

That afternoon and early evening were spent sitting around and eating dinner at Eric's parents' house. We watched the Michigan-Michigan State game. It was perfect, and bedtime was again early.

What I Ate: As usual for me before a race, I cut out all dairy, sweets, high-fiber foods and anything gassy from my diet starting on Friday. Dinner Friday night was some kind of chicken, white rolls, salad and water. Lunch on Saturday was a subway turkey club on white with no cheese and some Baked Lays. Dinner at Eric's parents was gnocchi with red sauce (no cheese), salad and white bread. Breakfast the day of the race was a few handfuls of Special K cereal, a hard-boiled egg and black coffee. I also started drinking water as soon as I woke up. This all worked like a dream and I had no "issues" during the race.

During the race, I had two or three Shot Bloks at around Mile 4, some Sport Beans around Mile 8 and some more Shot Bloks between Miles 10 and 12. I drank only water on the course, at the beginning from my little handheld bottle and later from the aid stations. This also worked like a charm. I actually felt the lift I got from the Sport Beans about five minutes after eating them.

After the race, I felt great and was able to immediately drink a container of chocolate milk and eat a banana. I didn't get hungry again until much later, when I downed an entire plate of chips and guac myself.

What I Wore: Skirt Sports sleeveless top, Asics arm warmers, North Face bra with pocket (which is where I stashed my Shot Bloks and Sport Beans), Nike Tempo Shorts, Tommy Copper calf sleeves, Balega socks and Brooks Pure Flows shoes. I didn't wear a hat and didn't need one. This made for some seriously bad hair and race pictures, but I don't really care about that. The hat I would have worn is my black Boulder Marathon hat, and this is the one I will take to CIM too.

Mostly this outfit worked fine. I give a huge thumbs up to the calf sleeves and the bra. The shorts were fine, but were starting to chafe in the thighs by the end of the race, something I'll need to deal with in a race that's double the length. Not sure if Body Glide will do the trick or if I need different shorts....I'll try some things out on long runs this cycle and see how it goes. Ditto for my shoe-sock combo. The shoes felt nice and light, but the bottoms of my feet were starting to blister by the end of the race, not something I want happening only halfway through a marathon. This happened to me in Houston, too, but much later on in the race. I will be experimenting with different socks on long runs to see what works.

I will probably wear something very similar in this race. I don't like the way I look in sleeveless shirts, but it was nice when it got warm in the tunnel, and later on, when the chilly air felt good, to have my arms bare to the wrists. Ditto for the legs. I'll wear capris only if it's really cold.

What I Listened To: I turned on my music (all Mumford & Sons playlist!) at the halfway mark of this race. In marathons, I typically turn it on at Mile 18. I plan to stick with this. I also used my tiny iPod Shuffle instead of my big iPod Touch. This worked well, too.

Warm-Up: This was a big flaw. I didn't really warm up at all and didn't really have time (I did do some 100-Ups in the corral--thanks to Jill for this idea). I'm not sure how to deal with this. It's really hard to time a warm-up and still position yourself properly in the line-up for a big race. CIM was capped at 8,000, which means there will be only slightly fewer people than were lining up for Detroit (the full and half-marathoners all started together). I'll have to talk to Darren about this. I've never warmed up for a marathon and it's my understanding that you mostly don't need to. But on the other hand I need every second I can get and I don't want to waste any time starting too slow because I'm improperly warmed up.

Things I'm an Advocate For:
--Staying in the host hotel--it's worth the extra money to be able to leave as late as possible, use your own bathroom as many times as necessary and be close to your room when you are finished with your race. At CIM, Tricia and I are staying at the host hotel.

--Arriving two days before the race--this means the day before is true downtime, not the negotiation of airports and check-ins. I'm doing this at CIM too.

--Sleeping a lot in the weeks before a race. My social life is about to get cut way back. That's OK. In fact, it's now time for nap. God love you if you read this far! Any advice or thoughts are welcome!


  1. Wow! I love the way you have it all planned out! I also like how you made note of everything that worked and some of the things that did not work so well. As far as planning I think you have all figured out and now all you have to do is BQ in December!

  2. I for the record think you look beautiful in a tough girl way in that picture. I hate wearing sleeves in races, they irritate me. Sounds like you have figured out what works great, keep it up!

  3. You clearly have this! I think it's time to take your advice and get some sleep. That 10K in three weeks clearly requires much napping.

  4. That pic of you is dynamite. Totally badass the way I like it! Yay for CIM!

  5. You got it all planned out to a T; nothing can go wrong now!!

  6. Smart, smart, smart!!! I'm glad you will be able to bring forward the things that went right in Detroit to CIM. Happy training! Looking forward to those pancakes!

  7. "Just goes to show you.....the day before does not necessarily indicate what the day-of will be like."

    I learned this in my pool playing days. Just because you are warming up and you are playing crappy(or this case not feeling that great while running) or playing well - that has NO BEARING on how you'll perform in competition. When it's game time - it's game-on and all the preparation and mental toughness comes into play and it's up to YOU to pull it all together at that point in time.

    Great post - You KNOW I love all the analysis!! :D

  8. a. Great race and report!

    b. You look like a bad a-- in that pic!

    c. Love Mumford & Sons although after a while their songs sound alike!

    d. Even though your warm up wasn't what you wanted, looks like you still did great - I can never figure out my warm up either

  9. raina_smalltownrunnerOctober 27, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    Detailed notes are always so helpful later, that way you can remember how important all the little things are. Sleep is so helpful to get before a race. I should follow your example.

  10. that's some serious air under those feet! NICE!

  11. Didn't you know that fast IS pretty???!!! You look great and I am SO happy for your fantastic comeback after a long and arduous journey. Congrats on a wonderful result - you earned it! :-)

  12. So, so happy you had a great race in Detroit. It's a prelude to even better things to come I think. You look fast, strong, & beautiful.

  13. You have a really specific schedule of eating etc. I usually just eat whatever! However, I think it's good to keep track, because as we all know, some things DO NOT work. I have a few pieces of advice as an alumni. (1) At the beginning, it was about 32 degrees if I recall, but it warmed up to about 60 later on. The arm sleeves are going to be your best friends. Throwaway gloves and an old sweatshirt may also be a good idea. (2) Will anyone be spectating you? If so, I can make them a map. Tell them to NOT spectate at Manzanita ave or Loehmans Plaza. It is a mess; it is where EVERYONE else is; it is where the relay changes over. Let me reiterate: it is a mess. Advice is free all day. You're welcome.

    The hotel you are staying at is fabulous. They have a heated bus that you can sit in until the race starts. Also it's very close to the finish line and the expo. You can hole up in there for the entire weekend, minus the three hours and thirty five minutes it takes you to run the race.

  14. I enjoyed reading these race notes!