I have been staring at this blank page for 15 minutes and I’m not sure where to start! So, 3 days post-marathon let me start with some honesty in saying that before I run my next 26.2 it would benefit me to move to a 1 story house and equip at least one of my bathrooms with a raised toilet seat! Ya feel me?!
This past weekend I ran my 5th full Marathon and 3 days later I am still soaring on runners high. This was my 2nd year in a row running Revel Canyon City and for what it’s worth, the Revel Race Series never disappoints!
On Friday I went to the expo to grab my race bib and stuff for the race, and everything from the expo to race day is always so well-organized for this race — zero hassles!
I remember staring at this 26.2 sign thinking, “Am I really doing this again?!”
I was the strangest combination of nervous and calm walking through this expo. I know that makes zero sense, but I was nervous about the unknown of what the next morning would bring, but confident that my training was not going to disappoint me.
This race is great about hooking you up with the extra things you will need for the start line, which is COLD! They always give you an emergency blanket, which is a lifesaver at the start line — It’s amazing the difference those make! They also give everyone a pair of “throw away” gloves to start your race with and then toss off once you warm up!
They also gave out socks this year along with the race shirts and some other freebies!
After grabbing my stuff I headed back to get everything ready for the morning. As always, I laid out my flat runner which is always a good back up check to make sure you’re not forgetting anything for race day!
The whole week leading up to the race rain was in the forecast, that thankfully changed and dropped to a 10% chance the day before!
On race morning I was up at 2:00am, a friend of mine who was running as well met me to ride up together, we had a little over an hour drive and left my house at 3:00am to get there for the Marathon shuttles which were going from 4-5am. The shuttle ride to the start is about an hour.
The Revel Race Series are known for the “net drop” of their courses, but don’t be fooled — this course is anything but easy! After looking at the course map when I ran this the first time last year I did not see where miles 14-18 are a steady climb! That was right where I hit my wall last year, Mile 14, but this year I was ready for it! The 2nd half of the course Garmin tracked me doing a 2,003ft climb in elevation which is quite a bit for a 26 miler!
Let me back up for a second here and talk about what changed this training cycle. I got quite a few comments and messages about that! There were two things I did differently in terms of training and nutrition for this race which I believe was a big factor in my performance.
Training wise, I ran my highest mileage training cycle I have run so far. If you do this safely and correctly I believe it makes ALL the difference in the world! Why? Because I never “hit a wall” so to speak in this race. In my peak weeks I was running 2 mid-range runs a week (8-12 milers) as well as a long run on the weekend! And honestly, I was really only doing one speed type of workout a week, and then just making sure to use my long runs as a workout on the weekend where I was focusing on running anywhere from 7-12 miles at MGP (marathon goal pace) on those 18-20 milers.
I never trained past 20 miles, although it was suggested I get up to 24. This training cycle was tough for me, I have 3 and 5 years old boys and didn’t always have help for them. I probably did 70% of the training for this marathon on my treadmill, and not because I wanted to, but because it was do that or do nothing. I even knocked out an 18 mile run on the treadmill, my longest run on that ever! I mention this because I get so many questions about treadmill running and also because I have people tell me that I will not progress running on the treadmill so much. Wrong. Do what you can, make it work, where ever you are running the miles it IS helping you! Here is a look at my mileage from Garmin over this training cycle. October was my highest mileage month ever and that included some of my taper as the race was 11/4.
As for race day nutrition, a few weeks before my race I had been talking with some other athletes on what they use fuel wise on race days. I had been experiencing things coming back up after tough workouts — sexy, I know! My friend Oliver, who is a sponsored athlete for Gatorade Endurance offered to send me some samples to try out. If you don’t follow Oliver you can find him here, @trilife365 he’s had a pretty incredible fitness journey and he’s quite funny!
Now, I know this is going to look like a joke..but YOU GUYS:
Ever since I have been eating candy corn before my long runs, and my races the last 2 months, I have been running better than ever! Hahaha I eat a small handful like that the night before my races and it has been working well so far. The morning of the Marathon I mixed some of the lemon-lime endurance-formula and put it into 2 small hand-held bottles I would start the race with and toss later when they became empty or annoying! I usually don’t do this because I can’t stand wearing or carrying any type of hydration, but these tiny bottles were perfect and not bothersome. I honestly believe this was a big help for me. At the start line I ate a pack of those chews and then during the first 13.1 I drank one of the bottles and tossed the empty. Around mile 14 (where the up hill starts) I did an energy gel and one little dissolving salt tab (not pictured here). This year I was working on “preventative” rather than waiting for disaster (cramping) before using this stuff. I felt strong going through the half way point and in the 2nd half was mentally prepared for the work (hills) I knew was ahead. I literally spent the whole first half talking to myself positively and reminding myself that I can totally do this, and am so much stronger than last year.
In the 2nd half I finished the other bottle and had taken in 2 cups of water along the way. Around mile 22 I opened the other pack of chews, mostly just out of boredom, and I think only ended up eating 2 of the squares. I was feeling pretty good, I never “hit a wall” per se, during this marathon. I slowed in the second half when I took on the hills but never had the “I may die out here” feeling like I did last year. I also did not experience any cramping, which if you have run this distance you KNOW the havoc leg cramps will cause on your race!
Since this course comes through the canyons there is not a lot of course support because people are not allowed to go into those parts of the course. Other than the amazing volunteers, Medics, and Police Officers at the Aid Stations, there is no one on the course making it a very quiet race. Thankfully it’s incredibly scenic to help distract you!
This is a little glance at some of the uphill climb along miles 14-18 (this pic was taken by my Sister last year when she ran the Half).
In the last 3 or so miles when you come into town there are finally people lined on the streets along the course cheering. This is always when my emotions start running high. I was looking at my watch and knowing that I could probably walk the last couple miles and still PR. Honestly, I actually thought maybe my watch was off because I was in disbelief that I was this much stronger than last year and I definitely started tearing up when I knew that I was likely going to BQ.
My first 3 Marathons were before my kids, and although I was a runner I never “trained” properly for them, my fastest of those 3 was around 4:25. Last year when I ran this course it was the first 26.2 since having my 2 boys. My goal was to run under 4:00 and I ran 3:51 and was SO proud!
This year as I turned the corner and saw the finish line ahead I could barely see, my eyes were so watery — I had done it. My goal for this race was to beat last years time of 3:51, so when I crossed the finish at 3:28 I was overwhelmed and I cried!
Amy was at the finish waiting for me and she had also gotten a huge PR and her first BQ as well! We had battled through some training runs together this cycle so I was happy to see it all come together for us.
Another way I knew I ran this race smarter and stronger was last year upon crossing the finish I laid in the grass for nearly an hour with what felt like motion sickness. The sight of food had me dry heaving. This year, I grabbed my medal and we walked straight over to the free pizza and pie!
The Revel races hook it up food wise at their finish lines! There was even a Waffle Truck you can see behind me here in this picture!
Also, they give some of the biggest medals I’ve ever seen!
I think I will be riding out this Marathon high for weeks to come. I’m so happy with the way this race turned out for me, and am so thankful to everyone who has supported me along this training cycle. It would be so tough to get through this without the people to lean on who understand and love what you do, too. There are SO many highs and lows you experience during the months of training leading up to your race it’s nice to have others to pick you up when needed and also keep you grounded. I said it earlier this week on IG, for as much of a personal and lonely experience racing can feel like at times, I honestly believe it takes a village to run a Marathon!
Congratulations to everyone else who ran this race, or the NYC Marathon the day after! It was an epic weekend for marathon running for sure, and anyone who watched the NYC finish knows that! You couldn’t watch @ShalaneFlanagan come through that finish and NOT be moved and inspired!
Who else ran Revel Canyon City or NYC this past weekend? I always love hearing about everyone else’s races!