Race Info: Madison Marathon on November 12, 2017 in Madison WI.
Goals: This was my first full marathon, and my main goal was to finish. After that, my goal time was 4:20.
Training: I've done six half marathons with the most recent one in August. Coming off that I increased my weekly and long run distances pretty consistently other than being interrupted by hikes in August and September. My training routine was to do hill intervals on Mondays, a fast, flat five mile run on Tuesday, a six to nine mile run Thursday and my long run Saturday. My long run length increased roughly 1.5 miles per week and topped out at 22.11 miles two weeks before the race.
Pre-race: I got up before 4 AM for the 7 AM race. I downed a chocolate mint Clif bar, a 32 oz bottle of Gatorade, and some instant coffee (as long as I'm naming brands, it was Starbucks Via mocha). The day before I had some easily digestible food (bean and rice burrito for lunch and chicken wrap for dinner, stuff I've had many times). I felt good all through the run as far as stomach stuff goes.
Race: I hung with the 4:20 pace group until about mile 18. Up to that point I was ahead of them a little behind them a little but otherwise with them. I don't remember exactly where they started to get ahead of me, but by mile 21 I'd definitely lost them. I couldn't see them at all.
For nutrition I took three gels and two chews. This was my first time using chews in a race, and it will be my last. These were Clif Shot Blocks, and the packing is terrible. They're so hard to get open during a race, and they're kind of hard to eat. I used them in long training runs and they were fine, but I always had the luxury of eating and drinking whenever I wanted. In the race I wanted to eat them with fluids, and I was always surprised by aid stations and stuck trying to rip them apart and keep moving and get water. The gels are great as always. I nick the corners of them to open them more easily.
So by mile 18 I was starting to fade, and I ended up walking up several hills. I probably walked five times in the last five miles, but I made it to the end and finished in 4:28. While I didn't make my goal time, I wasn't so far off that I'm disappointed.
I'd been worried about a couple hills around mile 18, but to be honest, I barely remember going up them. Not because they were easy but because of a mix of just settled into the run and in a bit of a daze.
Post-race: My right knee is really stiff but not painfully so. I'm otherwise pretty good. I won't be running at all for a few days, but I'll be back at it soon enough. My knee still aches but is better in the last 24 hours. Yesterday it ached when I did anything. Today it only aches on stairs.
What would I change? Besides no Clif Shot Blocks, my race day went well. The only other change that comes to mind is a training one. As a first race, I think what I did for training was fine, but if I do another I want to get to the point where running 18 miles is no big deal. During my long run training, each week was really tough. When I ran 18 miles, the first 16 were nice but the last two a struggle. The next week when I ran 20, the first 18 were OK but the last two a struggle. I think what I'd do differently is give myself maybe three or four weeks of doing 18 mile long runs with a goal of having 18 miles feel as natural as ten or so does today.
Will I do another? I don't know. One coworker says not to decide until two weeks after you do one, and I agree with that. The Madison Marathon was run well, and I enjoy the course. If I do another I want to do a different race but only for variety, not because of any disappointment with the race. I'm already signed up for three half marathons next year.