The Wausau Marathon on August 22, 2015 was my first attempt this year to go under four hours for the marathon. It went well for 15 miles or so but a poorly considered hydration plan coupled with not enough "fast" miles in training caused the last 9 miles to be anything but marvelous.
And I learned a ton.
Back in June, good running buddy Mike Taylor said "Joe, you need a dress rehearsal for this sub 4 plan of yours. Don't leave it all to chance at your other target race on November 7." Good words, Mike. So, the Wausau Marathon in northern Wisconsin filled the bill. I dialed up the training through the muggy Indiana summer and went for it.
The trip north was a treat. My wife came along with me for the 7 hour drive on Friday and we had truly a wonderful trip. The chance for extended uninterrupted time in the car led to substantive conversation which nurtures both of us. On Friday night, we met up with fellow runner and fellow blogger Heather who lives near and works in Wausau. What fun!! The three of us sat and talked and, as is so often the case, found much in common, far beyond running.
Gretchen sat across from me and was a little concerned that I looked decidedly flat...she had good reason to, as the analysis below will demonstrate. I started in on the chocolate milk and, man, did it taste good. The burger was tasty and hot. The second carton opened, I was starting to feel better. I started talking with the young guy next to me who just finished his first marathon. I asked Gretchen to pull out two more cartons of milk. I started laughing with the new marathoner. The third carton done, the burger half done, I began bopping to the music playing. By the time I began downing the fourth carton of milk, I looked at my wife and said "I'm doing better now" and she concurred, knowingly. I finished the burger and we headed out, as I grabbed one more milk for the road. We walked back to the hotel, feeling better, I showered and we headed home.
By the next day, I realized what had really happened: I had dehydrated by mid-race. I simply could not ingest enough water from the water stops and I was dried out. Totaling what I drank post race is instructive:
- Five 8 ounce cartons of chocolate milk post race
- 24 oz of electrolyte drink back at the motel
- Three 16 oz glasses of ice tea at lunch around 2pm
- 24 oz protein smoothie during the drive around 3pm
- Two more 16 oz glasses of ice tea during the rest of the drive
This Race's Lessons:
The marathon is an exacting taskmaster, which for me is the most compelling reason to keep running them. The key lessons from this race:
- The 4:30/:30 run/walk ratio works. I liked it. I need to continue to work on it.
- I ran enough training miles but not enough quality miles, not enough miles quick enough to get to sub 4.
- I have to carry my own water. Gulping a bolus of water every mile and a half or so just doesn't cut it. I need to sip, almost on each walk break, to stay hydrated.
- Temperatures over 60 is not conducive to a hard marathon effort.
- Chocolate milk is the greatest post race restoration drink. Ever.
- A cold protein smoothie packed in ice is perfect for the trip home.
- Quickly go buy some lubricant to keep my white shirts white!!!!
Postscript: About four weeks after the race, a package arrived from the Wausau Marathon. Despite the difficulty I had in the later stages of the race, I placed third of eight in my age group. And this earned me a Wausau Marathon beer glass!! How nice of them to look this up and mail the prize to me. Pure class, thanks folks!!