Next weekend I will run the Bayshore Marathon!
This day is 7 years in the making! When I last ran Bayshore, I was so prepared to have my best marathon, but then an unexpected heatwave full of lovely Michigan humidity hit. And somebody might have gone out a little too fast.
I bonked. I walked. I peed myself at an aid station. It wasn’t pretty.
Here’s the photographic evidence with my lovely friends, Donna and Jamie running me in (they’re the ones with the beautiful posture).
And here’s the 2016-2021 “excuse” list of why I haven’t exacted my revenge…. running injury, ectopic pregnancy, IVF (failed…twice), pregnant (on our own – yay!), new baby snuggles, COVID, mom to three busy kids, etc.
It’s not that I didn’t want to run another marathon, but you know – life! But here I am, 7 years of ups and downs later, and I’m ready to do this.
I am a different woman than I was 7 years ago. Failed fertility treatments were so hard on my body and soul. Having a baby at 42 years old certainly changed my body more. Maybe you can relate to anxious covid times when comfort food and Netflix were all you wanted? Another whammy hit just a few months ago. After struggling with fatigue, soreness and unusual tightness in the legs, blood work revealed that I was anemic.
No doubt this chassis and engine are much different than 7 years ago. But, the heart remains the same, and perhaps it’s even stronger than before. I have 7 more years of life to call upon and remind myself that I can do hard shit.
So, here it is, the week before my marathon. I know I trained to the best of my ability. Now, I put the final touches on my mental prep and plan ahead for a stress-free race weekend.
My race is out of town, so I need to do two lists. List #1 has every item I will need for the race:
I won’t bore you with list #2. We are camping for the weekend in Traverse City, so I’ve got A LOT more to pack, but it starts with the list!
Side tip: I “tested” my race day outfit at my last long run on Monday. After I pulled it out of the wash, it went right into my growing race day pile of goodies. One less thing to think about.
Make sure to know the location and times for packet pick-up, and if there are any procedures to follow or items that you need to bring with you (like ID or bib #). Race directors typically email instructions out prior to the race, but you should also be able to find them on the website. Check the time for race start, how you should line up for your wave or pace group and if there will be hydration and porta-pots available.
Being married to Ben Stuart helps me immeasurably with this task (if you know him, you’ll understand). But, if you don’t have a Ben, you’ll just have to take the time to do this now! Waiting until the last minute to plan logistics will add unnecessary stress to your race weekend.
Take a look back at all you’ve accomplished these last few months. Resist the temptation to compare that with what you’ve done for previous marathons or what others did. Just focus on this training cycle and all of your hours and miles. You have a lot to be proud of!
If you asked me in January, this was going to be my perfect marathon. Training was going so well. Then out of nowhere, the anemia hit. I actually didn’t have a clue for months and just figured I was getting older and not adapting to training as I hoped. My long runs were miserable, I did a lot of walking and then I would be sore for days. It was frustrating. It still is.
But, when I look back, I see consistency and if I know one thing it’s that running rewards consistency. I see speed work and trails and running with friends. Lots of 4am wake ups. Massages and regular chiropractic appointments. I see lots of strength training and cross-training. Despite the pain, I still got in two runs over three hours (which was my plan) and several runs in the 2-3 hour range.
It wasn’t perfect, but it rarely is. I did my job. I trained well considering the circumstances. I never gave up on this journey and I’m so proud of that!
Every day, find some time to picture your race. Start with the morning, then visualize the route, see yourself high-fiving friends and family, running your best, feeling good and then you see the finish line. Whoop!! Even visualize the steps you’ll take when something “bad” comes up – you dropped your nutrition, shoe comes untied, or an unexpected potty break.
Repeat this process until it feels real. Learn more about visualization and some other mental prep tools here.
I swear, meal prep and planning is one of the worst parts of adulting for me. But, this week it’s super important. Planning ahead will take the stress out of race week and help with that whole muscle glycogen thing. Basically, this is not the week to wing it.
The primary nutrition goal this week is to increase muscle glycogen stores leading up to race day. But before you reach for the bagel, stick with your normal healthy meals early in the week. In the 2-3 days and hours prior to the race is when you build up your muscle glycogen by eating lower fiber carbohydrates, like sweet potato, rice, whole grain bread, pretzels, etc.
Glycogen is made of 1 gram carbs + 2-3 gram water. So, hydration is essential to maximizing energy storing potential. Sip water often and alternate drinking regular water with a low-carb electrolyte drink.
I switched to a homemade functional hydration drink with a pinch of salt and drop of maple syrup – a trick I learned from Stacy Sims Women are not Small Men course. Love it – and this will be my race day hydration as well. I’d be so happy to go the rest of my life and never take a drink of Gatorade again… blehh!
That Gatorade talk brings me to my next point… race nutrition. Race nutrition strategy should have been practiced and locked in over the last few months. But have you thought how you’ll carry all your goodies for 26.2 miles? If you’re not carrying your own nutrition and hydration, take a look at the aid stations – know where they are located and what they’ll be stocked with.
Yas Queen!!! Right?! Now is the time to bank some zzz’s. As you get closer to race day you may find that your nerves increase and sleep is harder to come by, so start now!
Put yourself to bed at the same time each night, be conscious of the evening screen time, and then skip the 4am alarm – because you don’t have to run any long sessions this week! Tart Cherry juice is a wonderful sleep aid with naturally occurring melatonin.
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “the hay is in the barn” This is our reminder that training is done. Whether you nailed it or missed some key sessions, there’s nothing more that can be done now. You will not get more fit, so just take it easy! A few 30-45 minute Z1/Z2 runs is all you need. Fill in your free time with mobility exercises and gentle stretching. Do not… I repeat do not try out a new yoga class this week, please!
For my week, I’ll do a yin yoga session on Sunday night, EC Fit Mobility Monday, Tuesday run 35 mins easy, Wednesday Mobility, Thursday run 35 mins easy, Friday rest day and Saturday go time! I’ll be spending lots of quality time with my foam roller and lacrosse ball too, and my dog will enjoy several leisurely walks.
Photo of 2015 Bayshore Half Marathon courtesy of Kevin Neumann