So you might have read my account of the Stand Chart Marathon the past Sunday. I had such a good time and the race only reinforced my love for running and racing. However I made many mistakes leading up to the race and even during the race itself. Still it is not without regrets for I figured several useful ways of adapting to the environment. So allow me to self-indulge and recount the bad and good stuff, I think I did.
Things I did wrong:
1. Carb-loading like there is no tomorrow. There is a tomorrow and during THAT tomorrow your belly will be filled with sooo much stuff, it is no longer a fuel but pure burden. I really should have checked myself the day before but I lost it and ate like it was free-for-all. No way. Running on a full belly is a nightmare. When you are hydrating during the race, you are ingesting more stuff on the full belly and this causes digestive problems. I was having difficulties digesting just the first gel when my energy level was so low at the 24km mark. My belly was so bloated and gassy. Next time, check myself.
2. Inadequate Gel preparation and schedule. There is a science and art to taking these gels during a long race. I have done three half-marathons before and never needed it. So for this race I was so reluctant to rely on them. Right up to the race itself, I had yet to fully understand the purpose and science behind it. During the race, I waited until my energy level came to an all-time low and my mind was going crazy with negative thoughts before realising that maybe I needed a sugar hit. I should have taken gels seriously during my preps. I should have played around with it during my training and listened to the suggested schedule to consume it timely. Lesson learnt.
3. Inadequate cross-training. Running all the time is NOT the way to score a good timing. I always knew that. However for this race, besides running, all I did was glide on the Elliptical Machine. I felt I should have added in other forms of training such as TRX and Yoga. Especially Yoga – the stretching would have loosened and strengthened my hips.
4. Inadequate strength-training. Repeat after me. Strong.glutes. Strong.legs.
5. Inadequate core strengthening. This is different from point 4 because the core is the single most important part of the body. As mentioned in the earlier post, my weak core caused me to sink into my hips. Strong core would have supported my weak shoulders. This week when I am done with recovery, I am so doing these simple for effective ab exercises everyday!
Things I think I did right:
1. Join a running club and pacing group. You have no idea how grateful I am for the Running Department and the 5:15 pacers. The organised and manageable running schedules made my training so much easier. You may recall I had 15 weeks to train as opposed to the ideal 18 weeks prep. With Running Department, I did not have to hunt around the internet for a reliable schedule. I just followed them especially their long runs. On race day, I felt more comfortable knowing I clocked 27km, 33km and 21km before with them. Plus the pacers were ALL so incredible! They always made sure uneven ground or any obstructions were pointed out. Plus they were ALWAYS cheerful during running. Lots of smiles and laughter at every single point. And they played damn good music and tend to sing along. This helped to ease up my body and mind especially during the early parts of the race. There was always so much support. If you slowed down, one of the pacers will always drop out to ensure you are not alone and made sure to cheer you on. The community spirit was so real and moving. Also thanks to them, I stopped using headphones. I swear my eardrums are much happier.
2. Pacing onself. My experienced-Marathoner friend saw the final breakdown of my run and was well-impressed with the even splits. I am still unfamiliar with splits but if he is impressed, it must be good. I have only my Pacers to thank for this.
3. Ice cubes in bra, water over the head. Will do this again! Plus the ice cubes in the bra remains for a long time. The cooling effect at the chest really really cools down a large part of your upper body. Water over the head is great when a breeze comes in. It is an amazing cold feeling!
So there, lessons learnt and the right stuff I did. Now it is to be put them into action and prepare for my next race. I simply cannot wait!