Overheated in Österreich (Austria)

| No Comments
Vienna Marathon Start.jpg

In the Starting Pen Before the 2013 Vienna Marathon

The funny thing about marathons is that you can do your best to control everything within your power, but there are always some things to which you have to adapt. The weather is the most obvious example of this. You might, for example, spend months training in near-freezing temperatures, get snowed on during one of your final training runs, and then get hit with a 22 degree race day. Which is exactly what happened to me on Sunday during the Vienna Marathon. The good thing about races where you are thrown that sort of challenge, is that they can be quite educational. So, what did I learn?

I learned that when the weather is warmer than you are used to, you need to be sure to keep taking in fluids. I made the mistake of skipping some water stations, and of not getting enough water at some stations. I also wasn't really picking up on some cues that my body was giving me that I needed to be more attentive to hydration. While I was fortunate enough to just need to drink a bunch of water after the race, this sort of neglect is what can land you in the medical tent receiving IV fluids (and, to be honest, I did end up in the medical tent, but just because I wanted to have supervision in case I really did end up not just being nauseous but actually getting ill). Or ending up even worse off than that. Also, neglecting hydration clearly impacted my performance. I ran fairly close to my target pace (trying for 3:30) for about the first ten miles. Then tailed off. Then started improving my hydration strategy and started moving back to my pace. But as I continued to fall behind on hydration my pace just kept dropping. My last five km were just slow and painful. In retrospect, I should have just eaten a few minutes of time, and stood at a water station taking in a liter or more of fluids. That correction would have probably been repaid, and more, in that final stretch.

I also learned that, especially on a day where hydration is an issue, you really don't want to mess around with nutrition that is going to exacerbate your thirst. The first item on my fueling plan was a Clif Bar at 10K. The plan was to eat it really slowly, letting small pieces dissolve in my cheeks, and gradually working through the bar. But with a dryish mouth this wasn't happening, and the eating just became a distraction. And made me really need some water just to make my mouth stop feeling so parched. By the time all of this was obvious I had to just suck it up and run thirsty for 2-3 kilometres. Not fun. And definitely not conducive to smooth, focused, even pacing. But I reacted to this situation very well. I changed up my fueling quite a bit, abandoning the Clif Bar (sticking what was left in my pocket for later), and had a gel with some water at the 15K water station. Other than the distraction of wrestling with the bar I felt that nutrition went quite well for the rest of the race.

The rest of what I learned is more about running marathons in general, rather than dealing with adversity. This was definitely a race where I learned a lot about why I run. Although I had really been focused on time going into this race, by ten miles in it was clear that I would be lucky to match my Amsterdam time. And by twenty miles in it was clear that I would be doing well to finish under 4:00. But unlike other runs (ahem, Paris) where I failed to hit my target time, this time I finished up feeling good about it. Why? Because I feel like I ran the best race I could under those circumstances. Sure I could have really tried to push myself a lot harder, but seriously that could have led to not finishing. I kept turning over in my mind the guidance from Barbara (my coach) that the goal for the race was to run comfortably. I did periodically try to push myself to go faster, knowing that sometimes when you push harder the running gets easier. But when it didn't get easier I accepted that comfortable was good enough. And I also kept thinking, whenever that urge to push harder came on, of Charlie Dark advising me to 'be sensible.' On this day, that meant focusing on not pushing so hard that I couldn't finish.

Which is not to say that the race was easy and comfortable the whole way through. I started to understand during this race the role that pain plays in running marathons. I've read interviews with experienced elite marathoners, and they talk about welcoming the pain, because ultimately what a marathon is really about is that mental duel between your will to finish, and the pain trying to make you stop. And of course your brain tends to side with the pain (traitor!). There were lots of times, especially in that slow, painful last 5K where I seriously considered walking. Not walking just through the water stations (which is actually a pretty good strategy for a number of reasons), but actually becoming one of those people walking part of the course. But I didn't. As tempting as it was, I was determined to not give in to the pain. This clearly wasn't injury pain, it was just sore muscles and battered feet trying to trick me into thinking I didn't have what it took to finish the race. But they were lying, And I proved it to them. Maybe some of this is also pride. I really didn't want to be one of those people looking miserable, walking, and getting sympathy from other runners. Nope. Not me. Not today. Be gone you lying pain. Not only am I not going to stop running, I'm not going to stop smiling either! Nor am I going to stop encouraging those around me who have lost their own battles, at least for the moment. And I want to be really clear that I am not disparaging people who walk for part of the marathon. Every person, and every race, leads to different choices being made, and whatever choice a fellow marathoner makes is something that I won't  judge. And I really hope that when I have days when I lose this battle and I need to walk a bit, that someone else will take the time to encourage me as I have tried to encourage others.

Which brings me around to the biggest lesson of this race. Nope, it wasn't the time I wanted. And no it wasn't the perfect execution of fueling and hydration plans. But at the end of the day I had run another marathon, and had finished with a smile on my face. And I know that on this day, on that course, with that weather, I ran as strong a race as I could. And ultimately learning to be happy knowing that is, I believe, a big step towards really understanding what running marathons is about for me. So instead of hanging my head and feeling bad about a PB time as I did in Paris, I can proudly say that I ran the 2013 Vienna Marathon with a time of 3:53:50.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Post Vienna Refueling.jpg

Post-Race Nutrition: Cheese Spätzle and Beer!

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Daniel Maskit published on April 17, 2013 8:41 PM.

Running With (Strong) Women was the previous entry in this blog.

Baking the Bupa 10K is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.