I had some big goals going into my second marathon, Myrtle Beach Marathon 2018. I ran the same marathon the year before, as a first timer! It was a huge learning experience and I fell way short of my own expectations, going out too hard for my training and really struggling the second half of the marathon, struggling to clock in at 4:48 after running a 3:45 pace for the first half! Also, I didn’t have a solid fueling plan and I ate all my fuel by mile 16. Whoops! I planned this year much differently; I fortunately avoided serious injury during my training and got all my long runs in as planned.
The race was on March 3rd, 2018 at 6:30am. This year’s weather forecast was 40’s and windy, which ended up being a bit brutal for a good part of the course (literally being pushed backwards by the wind at some points!) but hey, everyone who ran had the same challenge and we all kept going! I ran with a hydration pack, filled with my favorite electrolyte solution Hydrate, which I had trained with and I felt would keep me more consistently fueled than depending on water stations during the race. This was a great plan, until I ran out of it around mile 20! Yikes. During one of my 20 mile training runs I ran out of water too, so I added 8 more ounces this time around but logically thinking, 8 ounces is not enough for race pace + 6 more miles. There were fuel stations every mile after mile 20, so I used them but really wished I had more of my own. The temperature had gone up into the 50’s by this point in the race and the sun was shining. My long sleeved jacket was really making me too hot at this point in the race, but I would have had to unbuckle the hydration pack and take it off to take off my jacket, and I really didn’t trust myself to get started back up again after stopping to do this. And I couldn’t do it running. The fatigue was pretty serious ya’ll!
My fuel plan was to eat Nature’s Bakery Fig bars around mile 8-9 and again around mile 16-17. They pack about 220 calories each of straight carbs, they don’t bother my stomach and I get a solid energy boost from them. They don’t sponsor me or pay me to share this information, but maybe they should! They are seriously straight fuel! My kids like them too. I used these during the Ragnar Trail Ultra I ran last fall, and they were superb then as well. I also had a baked potato and gel on reserve. Yes, baked potato. I would have eaten it too except it was in my hydration pack pocket, which I couldn’t reach and didn’t want to take it off or stop to get it. Again, fatigue was strong and stopping just didn’t sound like a good idea. My concept with eating “real food” and running with the hydration pack was that although it would take longer to eat real food-(I have to walk while eating it, I’m a big time mouth breather while running and I’d probably choke/inhale it while trying to eat and run)-it would fuel me better and I’d save time not stopping to walk through hydration stops.
Although a nice idea, I feel like walking to eat the bars was in the end, a waste of time. (There goes my Nature’s Bakery sponsorship potential). I don’t know how long it took me to eat them, but it was at least a few minutes each time and that basically cancelled out some of my faster miles that I ran. So I’m saving them for relay races and I’m going to go with gels or something else next time around that’s quick and on the go. I will say, I never hit “the wall” that a lot of marathoners do, so I feel like my nutrition plan was pretty good as far as calories in. My legs just continuously got fatigued, which is to be expected, I think. Does anyone run a marathon and just feel perky and great the whole time??? Around mile 20-23 I was running with a very nice lady who was keeping a solid 9 minute mile pace, which was a struggle for me at that time, and I was able to keep pace with her for a few miles and chat to pass the time. I walked through a hydration stop and ate a gel packet and then I lost her but I appreciated the distraction while it lasted!
A lot of people say marathons are mental, I guess that’s true. I do a lot of self pep talks, some of which may have been out loud towards the end. It was fairly spread out at that point so I don’t think anyone heard me talking to myself, but I wouldn’t have really cared anyways at that point! That last 10k really is the longest 10k you’ll ever run. Walking isn’t an option for me, because it still hurts and you’re just taking longer to get to the finish.
I crossed the finish line in 3:58, thankfully achieving my number 1 goal, which was to finish under 4 hours. Hey, I had a minute plus to spare! My number 2 goal was to beat my brother’s marathon time from last year, which was 3:48. Ten minutes doesn’t seem that long and I ponder that if I had fueled differently and taken more Hydrate in my pack, could I have done that? The world will never know. And goal number 3, which was a long shot, was to Boston Qualify which would mean running under 3:45 but probably would need to be closer to 3:40. I realized over the course of my training that I wasn’t doing enough to achieve goal #3, but I still kept it as a goal. I’ve pulled races out before that I didn’t think I could, but I think the marathon is a distance that it’s pretty difficult to do that with, HA! I wasn’t necessarily planning to run Boston in 2019 anyways even if I qualified…so it was really more of a pride goal than anything.
Overall, I was pleased with this race. I shaved 50 minutes off of my marathon time and I’ve read that sub 4 is actually pretty difficult, and that only 25% of runners achieve a sub 4. I’m not sure I believe that statistic as it seems like over 50% of the race was in front of me, haha, but I feel good about that performance and all the hard work and training and time I put into this race. And I’ve said this before, but for right now I am hanging up the marathon running shoes indefinitely. The time consumption for training and the toll it takes on my body was hard this training cycle. I definitely would like to do another half marathon and am considering doing it while I’m still up there with mileage. Realistically though I probably will take a break from longer distances until the fall. I am really hoping to do the Ragnar Trail Carolinas race again (as a regular run, not an ultra!) which would be 16 miles and then from there add in a half marathon at some point in November or December. I’ll keep you posted! Thanks for reading!