What Happened in the NYC Marathon – My Running Mistakes
I had dreamed of this moment for over a year. I had ambitious goals. I had a plan on how to achieve them. And I had trained for this moment for a long time. I was going to cross that finish line, get a new marathon PR, and prove to myself that I have improved as a runner.
Unfortunately, this race did not turn out how I dreamed it would. I did not get a new marathon PR and I struggled for the whole marathon. I’ve spent a lot of time processing the results and here were my top mistakes. These are not excuses for a failed PR attempt, these are mistakes that I made that I will learn form, adapt to and evolve as an athlete.
1.) Lack of Emotional & Mental Focus Leading Up to the Marathon
The week leading up to the marathon I was not locked in. I was excited about the marathon, but I was not focused on it. I let other life stressors get in the way of me preparing emotionally and mentally for the race.
2.) Lack of Sleep Leading Up to the Marathon
This had a bigger impact than I initially realized. Due to work projects and life, I had 4 poor nights of sleep in a row before the marathon (Wednesday-Saturday night). I couldn’t sleep well, woke up often and slept few hours. On Thursday, my legs were aching because of the lack of sleep. However, I brushed this off and remained confident that this wouldn’t affect the marathon. I would run on excitement and adrenaline. I was sure I had more energy than I thought. Turns out, you can only run on excitement for so long. When the run got hard, my body just didn’t have the gas it needed to push through.
3.) My Marathon Gear
I debated for days what I wanted to wear on race day. I constantly checked the weather and considered what I typically wear on races in November. The problem was that it was going to be in the 50s which means that it could go either way compression tights/long sleeved shirt or shorts/t-shirts. Since I was going to be waiting for several hours before the marathon (and I didn’t have bag check) and considering that I ran a half 2 weekends before with compression tights/long sleeved shirt, I opted to go this route. This was a huge mistake. In addition to a lack of focus and energy, I quickly started overheating around mile 4-5. By mile 14, I met up with my wife to swap my long-sleeved shirt for a short sleeved shirt. This was the right choice. Although it took me a while to swap my bib onto the new shirt.
Overheating wasn’t the only issue. The compression tights were brand new. Although I tested them on a quick 3-mile run, we all know there’s a huge difference between wearing gear while running 3 miles vs. 26 miles. This is more of a theory than anything, but I don’t think the tights were breathable enough and helped to contribute to overheating. In theory, I loved the idea of these tights since they have multiple pockets for phones, gels, etc. Although that was another issue, I stuffed the pants too full which contributed to my slower pace. This theory may not be accurate, so I’ll continue to test these new compression tights on future runs.
4.) My Playlist
This isn’t a big one. I’ve been training myself to run with and without music. However, my Air Pod Playlist refused to shuffle and completely died on mile 17. No music for the last 9.2 miles.
5.) Waiting around for 4+ hours Before Starting
Although I knew I would be waiting around for quite some time prior to the marathon, I didn’t realize it would be 4 hours. Since I ran through a charity, I did have access to a heated tent. I stayed in the tent for the majority of the time beforehand. The tent was way warmer than outside, but still not perfect. It’s a long time to wait when you’re ready to go and running on fumes. I never had waited so long for a race to start before and it definitely affected me.
Before leaving the house, I had some Nuun electrolytes and toast with peanut butter at 4:40 AM. Between 6:00-10:00 AM, I had a kind bar, 2 6 oz cups of hot coffee, 2 8 oz. bottles of water and half a cinnamon raisin bagel. Honestly, I thought that was plenty since I normally run on less. However, I didn’t account for the 4 extra hours of waiting around. Shortly before my corral began, I realized that I was hungry again. Not a good sign heading into 26.2 miles.
7.) An Off Day
At the end of the day, my body just flopped and I had an off day. I’m not giving myself an out, I’m just sharing what happened. There are some runs where your body feels like a million bucks and other times were it’s a grind and challenge. Sunday was one of the tough ones.
So, what would I do differently?
1.) Keep to a Training Program
2.) Keep to a Nutrition Plan
3.) Keep Stress to a Minimum & Plan Ahead a Little Better
More on these items in an upcoming post!