Wednesday, December 19, 2012

2 Marathons in 2 Days

The Maniacs of South Korea
(one more was added shortly after this pic was taken, Congrats Cate!)
       Insanity is definitely contagious and the arrival of two more Marathon Maniacs at my base made the contagions overwhelming. Somehow I found myself toeing the marathon start line two days in a row, EEK! I would never have considered this if I had been on my own, but having a veteran of the challenge with me and a buddy to run with the whole way both days, made all the difference in the world.

       The races themselves were not particularly interesting, but doubling is a special event. Both races were along the Han River in Seoul, South Korea, in very brisk conditions. Our first started with the thermometer dipping to 23F. I think it may have made it slightly above freezing in the afternoon since the puddles started to thaw, which slowed my, “Slip and nearly bust my behind” ratio. The second day was warmer, but the wind was a bit sharper so it was pretty much a wash. Both days were very cold, but manageable with the right layers and the cheerful sunshine made it seem a bit better.

       Rhonda and I decided that even though we hadn’t trained with a run/walk plan, we would take it easy on Saturday and take a one minute walking break after each 5 minutes of running. The plan was a Godsend because not only did we manage to keep it up the whole way, we finished way faster than expected (4:48), feeling very good, with minimal soreness and energy for day two. We were served Tofu Gruel with a spicy salty sauce, which I gobble up with alacrity before digging into the food stashed in the car. I ate my 2 boiled and salted eggs with my Salt & Vinegar Pringles, washing them down with coconut water and then green tea with tart cherry juice. Dinner was steak and salad with lots more salt even though I had gone through 10 Salt Stix caps and 4 or 5 gels during the race. I really thought I would need less electrolytes in the colder weather, but I took as many as ever. Perhaps I just finished less depleted than I do during the summer.

       That evening we kept each other laughing with our Facebook messages about ice baths, dinner, and planning for the next day. Having the first race behind us really lifted our confidence. We just had to get to the start on Sunday and let inertia take over.

       Thankfully, Sunday’s race started an hour later than Saturday’s had so we didn’t have to be on the road until just before 8am for our 10am start. Using the same 5/1 run/walk ratio, we managed to keep moving forward, albeit at a significantly slower pace than the day before. There was no published cut off time for the race, but Korean marathons tend to roll up the sidewalks around 5 ½ hours after the start so we didn’t want to be too terribly slow. Our finish time for day two was a pleasant 5:02:58, YAY!! Diane beat Rhonda and me to the finish line by about 15-20 minutes both days. We are very proud of her!

       I did a few things different over the weekend. The run/walk combo felt so good and was so successful that I doubt I’ll run another marathon without walking every 4 or 5 minutes! I’ve heard for years from people that swore Jeff Galloway’s methods made them faster, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. Rhonda and I never intended to finish either race faster than 5 hours so our finish was a real surprise. For Rhonda, it was 12 seconds faster than her previous race, which had been a PR if you didn’t count the one marathon she ran in her early 20’s. I never felt the “I can’t do this” feelings that I usually have during the “teen” miles, and I felt better at 20 than I usually do. I admit, the last two miles on Saturday were pretty stinky, we both were ready for it to be over, but that feeling never hit on Sunday.

       Another difference was my shoes. Obviously, it was too cold to go barefoot, and my last race was a half marathon where I tested my Newtons for distance. I’ve decided I do not like them at all. My foot rolls off the lugs at the front funny and it caused knee pain in a part of my knee that has never hurt before. They also make my arches sore, which is odd since I am so accustomed to running without any arch support. I suspect the make the arch overwork to get up and over the “lugs” on the front. They may have helped keep my ankles from being too sore, but the tradeoff was not positively balanced. For the second day I went back to my old style leather Vibram Treks. My feet were warmer and my whole body was more comfortable.

       My food intake was different pre and post-race. I have cut way back on carbohydrates lately, not necessarily going fully Paleo, but not eating bread or cereal and cutting out carb heavy snacks. I do still eat carbs with dinner most nights and love my spaghetti, but I did not carb load in the days before the race. My breakfast both mornings consisted of sautéed spinach scrambled with eggs and a little blue cheese and a. Despite this lack of classic carbohydrates, I did not hit a glycogen wall of any sort on either race day. I ate most of my breakfast 3 hours before the race start and the banana 30 minutes before, so it all head plenty of time to digest. More importantly, I never felt hungry during the race and usually by about half way through my stomach is growling and my blood sugar is crashing. I also usually go through more gels during the race, but found myself needing less than one per hour.

Notice the nearly deserted finish area and stacked equipment on the right.
 This is what a 5 hour finish looks like in South Korea! 

       For recovery I went with anything I even suspected would help and repeated the ritual after Sunday’s race too. Ice bath, thigh high compression stockings (available at your local drug store under the name of diabetic or anti-embolism stockings) foam rolling and marathon stick usage, antioxidants and natural anti-inflammatories in the form of green and rooibos tea, with tart cherry juice concentrate. I did also take Naproxen right after the race. As wonderful as a glass of wine sounded on Saturday night, I passed on the alcohol and went with water and tea. I may have had a glass of wine Sunday night, but honestly I don’t really remember Sunday night much, LOL.

       Looking back it was a rousing success and I will be willing to do it again if the opportunity to run awesome races back to back presents itself, although warmer conditions would be a big improvement. At least now I know the ropes for a double and will not hesitate to sign up for the Disney World Goofy! I think next I’ll look for back to back half marathons so I can level up in the Half Fanatics