This Sunday, I ran my first ever marathon!
I really enjoyed the challenge of training and participating in this event. My time was 5:27:48. I didn’t meet my goal of breaking 5 hours, but I did meet my goal of completing the race, which is good enough for me. This is also my first race during which my pace started slow and gradually increased, instead of the other way around. I used to be pretty mindless when pacing long races, going as fast as I could at the beginning so I would end up crawling at the end and just hobbling across the finish line.
This time, I moderated my pace quite well, and I think I would have had a shorter time if it hadn’t been for the surprise wintry mix. That’s right. Surprise. Wintry. Mix. It started around mile 20, and it was blowing directly into my face. My shorts and long sleeved shirt were drenched. It was 35 degrees. I had run 20 miles and had 6 to go. It really sucked.
But then, at mile 24, my friend Val appeared to run the end of the race with me. She had already done the same for Bart, who ran the race in 4:36:15. I also had not 1, but 2 groups of friends who came to cheer me on. Running through Philadelphia, a beautiful city that’s special to me, was a wonderful experience. All of these things were special and a great reminder of how lucky I am!
My Marathon Diet & Exercise Log
I thought I would share how I fueled myself in the days leading up to the race. I am not a nutritionist, but I pay attention to what I eat and am pretty good at figuring out what works for me.
For the first few days, I focused on eating as healthy as possible, with lots of fruits and veggies. Then, I started to increase my protein intake. The day before the marathon, I switched to eating several small meals rich in carbohydrates, and of course, I drank plenty of water during the entire week.
I also was told that it’s a good idea to keep running, but run short distances at faster paces, so that is what I did.
Tuesday (5 days out)
- Breakfast: Perfect Nutrition Bar & two apples
- Lunch: Falafel wrap & a handful of almonds
- Dinner: Homemade butternut squash soup & garlic bread
- Exercise: 4 Mile Run
Wednesday (4 days out)
- Breakfast: Skipped
- Lunch: Chicken gyro wrap, 2 apples, & a handful of almonds (I got lunch from the same place 2 days in a row. They loved me at the pita shop this week. And honestly they do every week because I get lunch there all the time!)
- Dinner: Trader Joes orange chicken & veggie fried rice (OK, so this wasn’t the healthiest. But it was so easy and delicious!)
- Exercise: 75 minute yoga video at home
Thursday (3 days out)
- Breakfast: Skipped.
- Lunch: Homemade Acai bowl- 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 2 frozen bananas, 1 tablespoon of freeze dried açaí powder, 2 scoops of pea protein, 1 cup of kale, and unsweetened rice milk. I put everything in the blender and go, pausing occasionally to scrape the sides with a rubber scraper and slowly add more rice milk as needed. Topped with chia seeds, unsweetened coconut flakes, and homemade granola.
- Dinner: Salmon filet, roasted sweet potato & cabbage, quinoa
- Exercise: 4 mile run, followed by a 30 minute foam roll & stretch session
Friday (2 days out)
- Breakfast: Skipped
- Lunch: Trader Joes Super Spinach Salad & sesame bagel with peanut butter
- Dinner: Duck & wonton ramen from a Japanese restaurant followed by rolled ice cream. An impulsive meal. Bart and I had to pick up our bibs at the expo and grabbed dinner afterward in Chinatown. This dinner did *not* make me feel good the next day, I would *not* recommend eating this two days before a marathon. However, I would recommend it on a day when what you ate mattered less, because it’s delicious.
- Exercise: none, rest day
Saturday (1 day out)
- Breakfast: Oatmeal cookie pancakes
- After this big breakfast, I ate several small meals throughout the day. I ate: a sesame bagel with butter, a 6-inch Italian hoagie, a packet of potato chips, and a cookie.
- Dinner: Since she lives within walking distance from the race, we spent the night at a friend’s house who was also running in the race. She cooked us a spaghetti dinner with very mild tomato sauce. I didn’t gorge myself, but had a large but reasonable helping, probably a quarter box of spaghetti. We also ate some chocolate covered graham crackers with sea salt from Trader Joe’s while watching a trashy realty TV show called Temptation Island.
- Exercise: .75 mile run to get my muscles warm so I could spend an hour stretching.
On Saturday, I made sure to drink 5 1-liter Nalgene bottles full of water. I also had some watered-down Pedialite and several cups of hot ginger tea. The tea was to help with the stomach ache I had because my dumb ass ate ramen and ice cream the night before.
Sunday (Race Day)!
The race started at 7, and I got up at 5 to eat a bagel with peanut butter, half a banana, and a double shot of espresso. I also drank a liter of water and about 12 ounces of more watered down Pedalite.
To answer your question, yes, I had to take a lot of pee breaks during the race. Honestly, I’d do it again because I think being so hydrated definitely benefited me during the marathon. I also took a cup of gatorade at every stop and had 4 energy gel packets while I was running. A lovely woman was passing out fun-sized candy to the runners and I had a Reese’s peanut butter Christmas tree.
After the run, I had a banana, granola bar, and a cup of hot chicken broth they gave me before heading back to my friends’ apartment. Since an Uber XL would have taken 10 minutes to arrive and we were .5 miles from their place, we just walked home. It was brutal. I watched the Eagles lose with a bunch of my friends and had a burger from ShakeShack and 3 slices of Sicilian pizza. Also, lots of red wine. Another big mistake. Huge.
I didn’t eat perfectly, but these meals worked for my life and fueled me reasonably well. Do let me know what you like to eat before races, hikes, or other big days. I’m always looking for new ideas!