People say that you shouldn’t try anything new during a race but I must have broken that rule more than half a dozen times in this marathon. My running form has completely changed from six months ago and my cadence is much higher, closer to the optimal 180 steps per minute (or 90 strides) that is needed for proper Pose Running technique to be effective. I also ran with my iPod and music for the first time and tried to listen to songs that were generally in the 90 BPM range to help me maintain the cadence I needed. This helped tremendously and I want to dial this in even more. I also used the RunKeeper app for iPhone and so every five minutes a pleasant female voice alerted me to my total time, total distance and average pace, which was excellent because I didn’t have to wear or look at a watch at all.
In terms of nutrition and race fueling, I completely changed that as well. For the first 17 miles of the race, the only nutrition I took in was a mixture of organic whole coconut milk, honey and Chia seeds plus 6-8 ounces of water at every aid station. Starting at mile 18, I began using Hüma Gel, a brand new all natural/real food energy gel that is very easy on the stomach and tastes amazing. I had never used Hüma before but met the founder/creator at the race expo and was intrigued by the natural energy and claims that athletes using the gels had never experienced any stomach or GI issues. He is also a fellow Pepperdine alum so that was a plus. Being in the experimentation mode that I was, I was excited to give the gels a try, even testing them during the race. I had three gels between miles 18-22 and that worked incredibly well. Look for a future post detailing more about my first experience with Hüma and why I am excited to be working with them. In the meantime, check out their website (www.humagel.com) and Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/humagel). I will definitely be using their products in future races. For the last 5K, I fueled with two CLIF Shot gels (Citrus flavor and Double Shot Espresso) for that extra kick of caffeine to help me finish strong.
I ran in my Inov8 F-lite 230 shoes which have been a great starting point in my transition to minimalist running. They have a 6mm heel-to-toe differential and 3mm footbed to allow your feet to start to strengthen and perform their natural function. I’ve been transitioning to minimalist shoes since February and these Inov8’s are the only shoes that I’ve run or trained in since that time. I’m definitely taking the transition slowly and I’ll be writing more about minimalist running in the future here. Read an interview I did with Dirtbag Darling, my good friend Johnie’s community dedicated to girls who like to explore and adventure in the great outdoors: http://www.dirtbagdarling.com/2013/04/dirtbagging-101-intro-to-minimalist.html.
During the actual race, I felt very strong for the first 12 miles, averaging about an 7:45-8:10/mile pace with my cadence at 180+ steps per minute. Things were still going well through about mile 16 but it was around that point in the race that my new running technique started to break down and I had to revert to some heel striking with a slower cadence. I still knew that I could finish but my pace and form were deteriorating. It was now just a question of how long it would take me. I will be tweaking quite a few things in my training for the next marathon, including racing a few half marathons and incorporating some training days of 3-4x 5K intervals with adequate rest. The last 10K of my race was extremely difficult, especially around miles 22-24, and I had to stop a couple times to stretch. My legs were in a lot of pain and it became a mental challenge to get one foot in front of the other.
I didn’t mind the rain very much and I think it actually helped keep me nice and cool during the race; the puddles and flooding were the main issue because that meant my feet and shoes were completely water-logged during the whole race. This race was just about as painful as the other marathons I’ve run but definitely in a different way. First of all, the balls of my feet, calves and knees and hips were very sore. This definitely makes sense and is typical for athletes transitioning into Pose Running. I had absolutely no stomach issues, however. This was encouraging and I’m now excited to perfect my Coconut Milk/Honey/Chia mixture and also supplement with more Hüma Gels! Overall, the race was an absolutely fantastic tour of Nashville and the fans were amazing. I saw so many signs that kept me going and took my mind off the pain. The rain even seemed to bring out more enthusiasm from all the fans!
I finished in a time of 3:49:56, which is nothing to brag about by any means, but I was pleased with that performance given how many things I changed up and based on a long run of only 8-miles.
I know I’ve just scratched the surface. This is only the beginning of my journey into CrossFit Endurance and re-wiring my nutrition so stay tuned for much, much more!