This post is going to be about documenting the details of things that were under my control so that I can remember what worked and try to replicate it or improve on it next time.
Shoes: I've been running in Brooks Defyance shoes since February and they seem to really be working for me. Both of my pairs were getting up in mileage so I bought a new pair about three weeks before the race, and also started using a new set of custom insoles. At first the new shoes/insoles didn't feel quite right which was weird because it was the exact same as what I'd been running in, just newer. I had several debates with myself whether to wear my old shoes and insoles, the old shoes with the new insoles, or the new shoes with the old insoles. I finally went with all new because it just seemed too crazy to run a marathon in shoes that already had 395 miles of wear. The new shoes had 75 miles going into the marathon and I think it was the right choice. By the end of the race it definitely felt like I'd been on my feet for a few hours, but they didn't feel overly beat up.
Carbo-Loading: I mentioned in my pre-race post that I haven't been a believer in carbo-loading in the past. I guess I should modify that by saying it's not that I didn't think it worked for some people, but more that I didn't really see a need for me personally to put it into practice by doing anything that different before a race. But now I've realized that it really does seem to make a difference in my performance. The important part is to still keep my eating under control and not stuff myself to where I'm uncomfortably full.
I started my carbo-loading on Friday night at Chipotle. I've had Chipotle now before all three of my marathons so I think I'm going to have to make it a tradition. I don't really think of Chipotle as carbo-loading because it's basically rice, meat, and vegetables (I don't add beans, sour cream, or cheese)... the same thing I eat everyday but with Mexican instead of Asian flavors. But this time I also asked for the tortilla on the side and nibbled on it along with my typical carnitas bowl.
For lunch on Saturday I had quite a bit of bread, along with a slice of quiche and a bowl of tomato basil soup. Then finally for dinner on Saturday I specifically searched Yelp for a pizza place. Unfortunately the pizza wasn't that good, but it still did the trick. I guess I should also mention that I had a couple cupcakes on Saturday too, plus I drank a lot of water of course.
Race Fuel: I had my usual cool mint chocolate Clif Bar about 65 minutes before the race start. I like this Clif Bar because it tastes good, doesn't have nuts, and contains caffeine (50MG). About 15 minutes before I had a (sample) pack of strawberry GU Chomps (four pieces).
I carried four gels with me during the race. I could only fit three in the pocket of my capris, so the fourth I pinned onto the waistband. This worked really well and I didn't even notice it was there. At mile 6 I had a chocolate Clif Shot. Normally I don't use Clif Shots, but I think I got it as a sample from somewhere and it was the only gel I had without caffeine. I didn't like the consistency because it was thicker than GU and harder to squeeze out of the packet. But I'm not sure if that's because the Clif Shot was the gel I had pinned on while the other three were closer to my body and therefore warmer from my body heat. Anyway, at mile 11.5 I had a vanilla orange GU Roctane. I haven't gathered any personal evidence that GU Roctane is better than regular GU, but I'm choosing to believe the marketing and assume that it helps. At mile 17 I had a vanilla GU and finally at mile 22 I had a triberry GU.
I can't remember exactly what I did at my previous marathons, but during training I usually don't take more than 100 calories per hour. This leads to me sometimes feeling hungry during a training run, but my philosophy is that it's better to train on less fuel than I'm going to use on race day. During the marathon, there was only one point where I started to feel slightly hungry but I think it went away when I drank some water. I feel like I had a good fueling plan and adding in another gel would have been too much.
I switch back and forth between liking gels versus chews. I used to prefer chews because they're less messy, but lately it seems that GU Chomps are hard to get out of the bag. The gels worked really well for me this time. I had to slow down a bit to take them, but I liked that I could squeeze it out quickly and then focus back on the race.
Clothing: Of course I can't talk about clothing without talking about the weather. The forecast was something like 51 F at the start and 59 F at the finish. The decision between shorts and capris was pretty easy. I don't think I would have been too cold in shorts, but with capris I don't have to use body glide. The decision between short or long sleeves was harder. I don't usually wear race shirts to races, but somehow I'd gotten the idea in my head that I wanted to run in my Rock 'n' Roll Seattle shirt. In the end I went with long sleeves because I figured I could deal with heat better than cold. If it had been really sunny, I probably would have been okay in the short sleeves, but most of the race was cloudy and gray so the long sleeves ended up being the perfect choice. I never felt hot during the race, even at the end when the sun started to peak out and I was running hard to the finish.
I bought a new Moving Comfort sports bra on sale recently and wore it on a 13-ish mile training run without any problems so I decided to wear it for the marathon too since my other sports bras are getting old. Well Sunday morning when I put it on the shoulder straps felt extremely tight and I was kicking myself for not packing a second sports bra. There was nothing for me to do but put a ton of body glide on my shoulders and hope for the best. Amazingly, I ended up not even giving it a second thought once I left the hotel room.
My favorite brand of socks is Balega and I have these turquoise socks that are the perfect combination of cushioning without being too thick. I actually have two pairs of them and somehow I accidentally packed one older sock and one newer sock. It's probably hard to tell, but the sock on the right is a little more well-worn.
It's silly, but I had a slight moment of panic thinking that having different socks was going to throw me off my game because I hate to be "unbalanced". Once again though, I didn't give it a second thought during the race.
Finally, I wore one of my trusty white Road Runner Sports hats. I can't remember the last time I raced without one. Perfect for keeping my hair out of my face and (for the most part) the sun out of my eyes.
Looking back, there really isn't anything I'd do differently that would have led to a better race. It's awesome to have figured out what works for me after just three marathons, but then I've had a ton of half marathons to practice with. Maybe I'll learn some new tricks for the next race, but if not I'm confident that following a similar plan as this time will be successful.