Maree’s 26.2 Journey- Countdown: 9 Days

Maree’s 26.2 Journey- Countdown: 9 Days

I am running my first marathon in just over one week! Follow my progress to the Chicago Marathon on my Maree’s 26.2 Journey Blog.

The marathon is in just over a week, and I am starting to get nervous. I know that I can run the distance, but because I am being forced to taper off my mileage, I have a lot more time on my hands to obsess about the race. My biggest concern right now is making my desired time of somewhere between 4:30:00 and 4:45:00, which I will try to achieve by staying with a Nike Pace Group. I am also thinking about my diet for the week before the race, which will basically include a lot of pasta and other carbohydrates. It is more important to ingest carbohydrates than proteins the week before the marathon, because the body needs the energy that carbohydrates provide. As far as my running schedule, I have only done a five- and a seven-mile run as well as cross training in the last week, and today I am running 12 miles. I know that I am supposed to be saving up energy for the race, but I am still going crazy with all this spare time on my hands. At least taper time has given me the opportunity to catch up on some school work!

This past week, I talked to Megan, Ashley and Chris, who are signed up to do the marathon with me. Unfortunately, Megan is not sure she can compete, since her hip and her knees are still bothering her. She said she is able to do five or six miles about three times per week, but she hasn’t done a run over 12 miles in the whole time she has been training because of her physical issues. I feel really bad for Megan, because I know that if it were me in her position, I would be dying to run, but since she has hip and knee problems, it is probably unwise for her to risk her body to run the whole 26.2 miles.

Chris and Ashley are still planning on running the race. In fact, Ashley wants to sign up for the 4:15:00 Nike Pace Group! I think she’s crazy. I don’t think I could ever finish in that amount of time. Chris said that Ashley keeps pressuring him to join that pace group as well, but he also thinks that the 4:15:00 pace would be pushing it. Chris isn’t planning on signing up for a pace group, because I don’t think he wants the pressure of finishing in a specific time. My personal goal is to finish around the same time as Chris, and if I finish ahead of him, I’ll be really proud of myself.

My final piece of preparation has been creating a “26.2 Playlist” on my iPod to listen to during the marathon. Below are samples of my top songs for the end of the race when I’m going to need the most adrenaline. I can’t wait to play them on race day!

Sleigh Bells – Crown on the Ground

Santogold – Creator

Rise Against – Audience of One

Ratatat – Lex

Lady Gaga – Bad Romance

Eminem – ‘Till I Collapse

Chiddy Bang – The Opposite of Adults

Arcade Fire – Wake Up

Let me know which song would be the best for crossing the finish line in the comments!

Maree’s 26.2 Journey- Countdown: 9 Days

Maree’s 26.2 Journey: Inspired to Run

I’m making my marathon debut in two weeks at the Chicago Marathon. Read my Maree’s 26.2 Journey Blog to find out more about my training.

There are less than two weeks left until I run the Chicago Marathon – I can’t believe it. I got my marathon participant guide in the mail this weekend, which contained all the information I’ll need for race day, including my bib number, # 35174. I can pick up my bib, my official Nike 2010 Bank of America Chicago Marathon merchandise, and additional informational packets at the Health and Fitness Expo in Chicago the weekend of the marathon. I also plan on registering for a Nike Pace Team at the Health and Fitness Expo, which will help me stay on track with my time goal during the marathon. I’m really excited to see what merchandise Nike has to offer for marathon runners – the official collection is released on Friday, October 1. Hopefully I can get down to Niketown, Nike’s huge store on Michigan Avenue, to check out the marathon merchandise before the Health and Fitness Expo. Niketown is really focusing on running and the marathon right now – the windows have huge pictures of people holding up the palms of their hands with the words “I RUN CHI” written on them (“Chi” stands for Chicago, for those of you who don’t know). Niketown’s decorations, coupled with the 10/10/10 billboards and flags all over the city, are getting everyone in Chicago pumped up for the marathon.

Another marathon tradition that is bound to help me keep up my excitement during the race is the multiple cheer zones along the marathon course. Different marathon sponsors set up cheering areas at critical points in the race, such as the half-way mark, 20-mile mark, and, of course, the start and end of the race. Not only do I get food and drink to keep me going along the way and cheer sections to keep me motivated, but I also get to go to the 27th mile post-race party in Grant Park, where I get more free food and beverages! Free food is the best when you’re a poor college student.

The most important marathon motivation for me is the stories of those who are running the marathon for a good cause. The Chicago Marathon on 10/10/10 is known as “The Date to Motivate,” and the campaign for the marathon features 10 athletes and their stories of why they are running the race. For example, William Beiersdorf’s motivation is to provide military families in need with the support they deserve, whereas Dr. Brooke Jackson is running to inspire healthy living one mile at a time. They, along with thousands of other athletes out of the 45,000 competing, will be running the marathon not only as a personal goal, but to raise awareness and support for an important cause. I wish I would have run for a cause from the beginning of my training, but I’ll make sure to take advantage of the opportunity if I end up running another marathon.

You can watch videos on the Chicago Marathon website to learn more about “The Date to Motivate” campaign. It was really fun to see the different reasons people are running the marathon – I am very impressed with everyone who went above and beyond to further a cause through their running. In addition to “The Date to Motivate” campaign video, I watched a high-speed video of the 2010 course on the marathon website, which was way more exciting than studying the course map (below).  Watch the video and you’ll see what I mean.

I’m trying to take it easy running these last couple weeks. I did an easy five-miler today. It almost felt too easy, but I know that I am supposed to spend my last two weeks resting up before the race and mentally preparing.

So far my mental preparation is working; I can’t wait to run the race!

Maree’s 26.2 Journey- Countdown: 9 Days

Maree’s 26.2 Journey: Taper Madness

I will be making my marathon debut at the Chicago Marathon on 10/10/10! Read my Maree’s 26.2 Journey Blog to see how my training has progressed.

I did my last major long run before marathon day on Wednesday – 22 miles in 3:53:00! I found out that the run I did before which I thought was a 22-miler was actually closer to 21, so I felt compelled to do a full 22 before race day. My main reason for this was to gauge my marathon pace so that I can sign up for a Nike Pace Group the week before the marathon. Nike offers pace groups for Chicago Marathon runners so that people who maintain roughly the same speed can stick together, and to help runners reach their personal time goals. Pace groups meet together at the start of a race, and then follow a pacer runner in the front of the pack who holds a sign that displays the group’s desired finish time. I plan on signing up for the 4:45:00 time range, and I’ll be thrilled if I can finish ahead of that pace group. I just keep picturing myself sprinting ahead of the 4:45:00 group at the end of the race . . . hopefully those visualization techniques will work for me on race day!

After my long run this week, I am now required to taper off, and the farthest I am “allowed” to run before the marathon is 10 or 12 miles. It’s hard to imagine that a few months ago 10-12 miles seemed almost impossible; now I feel like I could go that distance in my sleep! The Chicago Marathon has been sending out newsletters to participants once a month, and this last installment focused on “taper madness.” Similar to “cabin fever,” this frustration comes from being unable to go as fast and as far as you want to. The article from the newsletter said that “sooner or later, every marathoner will experience taper madness” . . . I happen to be experiencing it just two days after my last long run!

In order to combat taper madness, marathoners should focus on preparation for the race – what to wear, what to eat, running strategy, etc. I have already decided that I want to run in my ASICS shirt, Zensah Leg Sleeves, adidas shorts, and, of course, my Mizuno Wave Creation 11 running shoes. Without those shoes, I’m not sure how I would have made it through these last few months. All of my friends who are running with me – Megan, Ashley and Chris – are experiencing knee problems, blisters, or other aches and pains, whereas I am experiencing no pain other than generic muscle soreness. I truly owe my running shoes for preventing injury in my training.

In terms of nutrition and running strategy, I am pretty comfortable with my diet (which consists mainly of carbohydrates), and I plan on starting out slightly slower than my pace goal, just to get a feel for the race. Once I get a few miles in, I plan to increase my speed, and hopefully when I reach the last .1 or .2 miles, I can sprint over the finish line. I will probably walk just long enough to consume Gatorade, GU, or food, and I might walk for a short time around mile 22 or 23. For me, walking is not very beneficial mentally, because it’s hard for me to get up the motivation to start running again, but I know my body will probably need a rest at some point in the race.

I should be getting my official race packet in the mail today, so I look forward to tearing it open as soon as I get home! I also wanted to thank all my Blog readers for your support throughout my training; you provided some great motivation!

Maree’s 26.2 Journey- Countdown: 9 Days

Maree’s 26.2 Journey: My Marathon Time Goal

Maree’s 26.2 Journey is my blog about training for my first marathon. Follow my journey as I prepare for the Chicago Marathon on 10/10/10.

I can’t believe the marathon is only three weeks away! At this point, I feel prepared to run the race physically, but I know that this is the critical time when mental fitness is essential. Marathoners say that the last few weeks before the race are the most difficult because runners should be ready to run the 26.2 miles, but now they have to maintain that level of fitness. Personally, I have this irrational fear that I am going to lose my ability to run more than 20 miles before October 10th. I have also started setting more concrete time goals for myself, which means that I am worrying about finishing the race within my desired time.

Initially, I just wanted to finish the marathon. I then decided that I would be able to finish the race in less than five hours, which allows for some pretty slow running. Recently, I have set a goal of somewhere between four hours and 30 minutes and four hours and 45 minutes, which would be right around 11-minute miles. I’m fairly positive I can finish within this time frame, but I am afraid that I will start out the race too fast or make another novice mistake that will prevent me from finishing within my desired time.

I decided I would run my very own half marathon this weekend to see if I could beat my friend Anna’s time from the real Chicago Half Marathon a couple weekends ago, and to gauge my full marathon race time. I mapped out 13.1 miles on the Lake Shore Path and tried to pick up the pace throughout the run. Normally, I just run the distance without worrying about speed, but I was curious to see how fast I could run comfortably. I was hoping that I would finish in a sub-2:20:00, which would mean that, theoretically, my full marathon time will be 4:45:00 or less. I decided not to wear my Fuel Belt, because I was curious to see whether going without it would increase my speed. I also used my Zensah Leg Sleeves and the Nathan Arm Sleeves, which I have never used before, since it was only about 55 degrees outside. Both of these products kept my legs and arms warm so that I could finish the run comfortably.

I finished my own half marathon in approximately 2:15:00, which is not only faster than Anna’s time (2:19:00), but makes me think I can finish the full marathon in at least 4:45:00 or less. However, I know that since this will be my first race, there are no guarantees as to how I’m going to handle the competition of running with other people. I hear there will be internationally recognized runners there, which will be very exciting, but also intimidating.

Now I’m off to eat some pasta . . . I have a 20-miler coming up this week!

Maree’s 26.2 Journey- Countdown: 9 Days

Maree’s 26.2 Journey: My Marathon Diet

I will be running the Chicago Marathon in just over three weeks after a long summer of training. This will be my first marathon, and you can follow my Maree’s 26.2 Journey on the Eastbay Blog to learn about my experience.

As I get closer to race day on 10/10/10, I am beginning to realize just how important proper nutrition is for marathon runners. I find myself eating constantly and craving carbohydrates and fruits, and if I eat the wrong foods, such as candy and soda, I feel lethargic and weak. I decided to look up tips on marathon nutrition, and I discovered some interesting facts.

I already knew that carbohydrates, proteins, and fats were important for marathon training, but I didn’t realize just how vital they are to help your body run efficiently. One source I read said that the typical runner stores about 1,800 calories from carbohydrates in his muscles, liver and blood, which means that around mile 22 or 23, that stash of energy is almost completely burned up. This is why marathoners usually hit a wall at the 22nd or 23rd mile, and also the reason that it is very important to eat during long runs. I have been bringing an energy bar and GU packets along with me on my long runs that I eat throughout my run, and the combination keeps me going strong until I finish the workout. However, I have never run more than 22 miles, so I know that the last four miles of the marathon will probably be the toughest on my body and mind.

Here is a sample taper week (the final week before the race) nutrition schedule:

Day 1 – Exercise Duration – 60 minutes, Carb intake – 60%

Day 2 – Exercise Duration – 40 minutes, Carb intake – 50%

Day 3 – Exercise Duration – 30 minutes, Carb intake – 40%

Day 4 – Exercise Duration – 20 minutes, Carb intake – 70%

Day 5 – Exercise Duration – Rest, Carb intake – 70%

Day 6 – Exercise Duration – Rest, Carb intake – 70%

Day 7 – Race Day

I had no idea that running nutrition was so complicated! The website also mentioned that on the day of the marathon, I should wake up about three hours early to eat a meal so that my body has time to turn my food into fuel for the race. That means that I’ll be waking up bright and early at around 3:30 a.m. on that Sunday morning.

One of the most important tips that I have gathered on marathon nutrition is to not change your diet drastically right before the race. A lot of runners read nutrition information at the last minute and end up doing more harm than good by altering their food intake. It’s best to do your research ahead of time so you know what foods work for you and in what quantity so that the marathon goes smoothly. I am already eating all the right foods – bread, pasta, fruits, vegetables, meat and eggs – I just have to remember to load up on carbohydrates based on the schedule above during the week before the race.

Early next week, I am hoping to do one final long run, between 18 and 23 miles, and after that it’s taper time! I can’t wait.