Leading up to race day, I was freaked out that I wasn't freaking out. I actually texted Toni that I was nervous about my lack of nerves. I sat and thought about it and realized that I was so at peace with the race weekend because I knew I had nailed my training. Almost 100% of the miles planned had been run. The recovery, foam rolling, massages, yoga, myofascial release, strength training, extra sleep--it was all there. I had made it through an incredible strong, intense marathon training cycle 100% healthy and ready to run. One thought kept repeating through my mind:
Whatever happens on race day, you are as prepared as you can be.
So many of my marathons I've gotten injured during, had to take time off, didn't have the time necessary to train, didn't have the base mileage necessary to do a marathon build, etc. etc. etc. It was impossible to show up on race day without a full blown panic attack NOT brewing.
Despite having a calm peace of mind and a ready to rock attitude, the stomach issues were not something I planned for. Well, let me be more specific. I am a runner who has a very sensitive stomach, and I spent a lot of time throughout the training cycle trying to dial in what I could eat the night before a long run, how early I had to get up to eat my breakfast, and practicing a fueling plan to best execute on race day.
I would wake up at least 2 hours before our long run to fuel to allow my stomach time to get ready to run. I hydrated like crazy the Friday before long runs. I discovered that beer makes my stomach angry (womp womp) and cut back on the delicious ones until post-long run. I figured out the GU strategy that works best with my stomach, and I figured out an electrolyte plan with Nuun throughout the hot and sweltering long runs.
Despite all of this planning, I wasn't surprised I had a stomach issue on race day. I had pizza for dinner the night before, as I typically do, and I hadn't even finished my meal before I was racing to the bathroom with a very upset stomach. I was up before my alarm with a very angry stomach. And not my normal nervous race/long run stomach, but a "I ate something I really shouldn't have" stomach. I hydrated like crazy to try to compensate for any fluid loss and hoped for the best. I used the porta potties 4 more times before the race started and drank even more water.
I started the race with a full bladder and quickly had to use a bathroom for a potty break. I had factored in maybe a 2 minute pit stop for a cranky tummy, as most of my LRs had included one bathroom break, and then my stomach would be perfect for the rest of the run. I honestly practiced "going" as quickly as I could during training so on race day I could be in and out and ready to go.
What I wasn't prepared for was the weird cramping that occurred. Was it from dehydration because of my stomach issues all morning? I drank a lot of water that morning, so that would be surprising. It was a really humid morning, and I did miss one water station. After that missed water station, I took a cup of water and gatorade at the next one. Was it the gatorade? I don't know.
I do know that I could not run one second faster per mile during the periods of cramping I was experience. I would have a little reprieve for part of a mile as the cramp would shift downward, and honestly I wish it would've just sent me straight to the bathroom instead of taking its slow ass time. By my estimation, I dealt with it for at least 10 miles of the race. Once I hit the bathroom in mile 18 I felt like a new woman and like someone shot me out of a cannon! I can't imagine how hard the hills at mile 20-23 would've been if I still had that stomach cramp. Uff da. I can tell you my time would've been significantly slower.
I am incredibly proud to have a "bad day" and run a 4:19. I've had "bad days" on marathon morning before and those races have been 5+ hours long. Going in to the race, I had every intention of walking away with a shiny new PR and was so excited to see by how much. I felt like a sub 4:10 was doable even if my legs didn't feel great right out of the gates. I really thought I'd land in the 4:02-4:05 range. So by comparison, yeah a 4:19 is a bummer, but I can't be upset with how well I dealt with the day I was given, mentally. Back when I was speedier, I was physically prepared to run "fast" (fast of course being a relative term, fast for me!) but I never had the mental strength to really put all the pieces together on race day. Keeping my brain about me is such a win, that I can't wait to see what happens when my body and mind are on the same page.