My 1st and 2nd Marathon Experience:
This is my third full marathon in my total 4 years of running career. Yes, I did my first marathon in my second year after merely completing two half marathons. Honestly, I bonked the first two quite badly. The first one wasn’t too bad. I did it at the Vancouver BMO marathon when they had completely changed to a new course. Everything was going well (with a half split at approx. 1:31:00….I sort of fantasized may be I was running a sub-3 marathon for my debut) but by the time I got to about 32-35KM things started to go downhill. I found myself running with a terrible cramp alternating between both legs. I panicked and stopped. I was hoping some stretching would stop the cramp but it did not. There was a minute I thought of giving up but I persisted by half running and half limping to finish off the race. It was a devastating experience. My 1st marathon time was 3:12:22.
Nonetheless, I was quite adamant about qualifying for Boston. I quickly searched for another marathon in the Fall of the same year. Aha! I saw the Boundary Bay Full Marathon. As it turned out, it was another complete nightmare. In brief, I cramped up the minute I crossed the half way point and persisted running with cramps all over my legs for the remainder. Surprisingly, I ended up running faster (10seconds) than my first one. It was a PB at the time but no BQ! It certainly took me some hard lessons to realize the saying “hit the wall”. For training wise, I don’t think I had done anything too different between my 1st and 2nd full. The only thing I didn’t do in my 2nd one was stopping to stretch but just toughed it out all the way. Good choice? In retrospective, I think so. I am sure there are physiologists out there that would argue about the detrimental effects on the muscles by running through a cramp.
Please read my Vancouver BMO 2014 Full Marathon Race Report if you haven’t already.
I will highlight things I have done differently for this marathon below.
My 3rd Marathon Experience:
Learning from my past experience of running in different organized races, I realize I do much better in the ones where there were more participants. The atmosphere and the runners really motivated me to persist. I hate to run in a marathon where there was no spectators, no volunteers or any similar-pace runners. It’s definitely tough on the mind to push through all those tough miles alone.
I also find that I perform much better if the course isn’t completely flat. I find that rolling hills work pretty well for my body. This sort of course allows all leg muscle groups to work quite evenly without stressing the same group over and over as in running on some flat courses. The Vancouver BMO Marathon is definitely on the top of my list. It’s rated by Forbes as the Top 10 Destination Marathon in North America. It’s not cheap, though. However, I must say it was very well organized with over 4000 volunteers throughout the course. The bands were awesome as well. This year was also a record breaking year of garnering the most full marathon participants. The early bird entry I got was about $140 after all sorts of fees and taxes. Ouch!
So…What did I do differently for my 3rd marathon?
A Running Coach
The BIGGEST change is finding myself a coach. Not just a coach but the BEST coach I could possibly find in Canada. Coach Dylan Wykes is awesome! If any of you readers out there are serious enough to get some coaching from Coach D, please don’t hesitate to contact me through firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don’t know who Dylan Wykes is, you are probably not serious enough for some formal training just yet!!! Just Kidding =P! So who is Dylan Wykes? Well…Google his name? I am sure you will get a plethora of info/background about him.
Before meeting Coach D, I had never really received any formal training. I had always trained from those cookie-cutter internet training plans. I am not saying they are bad but they are just not great to make good progress. I met Coach D last year in the Fall. He started me easy with some basic training to build a good foundation before moving onto some advanced stuffs. He was really great at monitoring my progress and really helped me to reach many of my running goals.
A New Diet
Because of Coach D, I have learned a whole new different perspective about diet. I used to be a low/no carb guy. No rice, no pasta, no bread, no sugar….and the list goes on. I like to stay fit and by following a low/no carb diet really helped me to achieve and maintain this goal. Being a long distance runner, however, I did not realize that a low carb diet is a big no no. A great book recommended to me by Coach D that I wish to recommend to you all readers out there is “The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition: A Cutting-Edge Plan to Fuel Your Body Beyond “the Wall”” by Matt Fitzgerald. Basically, the book tells you that a long distance must eat good carbs to maintain optimal performance. Of course, the book talks about a lot of other important things about diet and nutrition but I am not going to list them all here. The book got me to start eating brown rice and other healthy carbs in my daily meals about 4 months prior to race day.
Another thing I did differently this time was that I bought myself a Fuel Belt to carry all the gels with me. As silly as I looked on race day, I liken myself to Rambo carrying all my ammos with me. I had 7 gels on me. The strategy really helped me to push through all the hard miles.
In summary, a good course with some awesome runners, spectators as well as volunteers, an awesome coach, proper diet/fuelling and training, all these helped me to reach my marathon goal.
I ran about 14mins faster than my 2nd marathon.
Again, please see my race report @ Vancouver BMO 2014 Full Marathon Race Report if you haven’t already.
Thanks for reading!
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