NJ Marathon Race Recap

First, thank you SO much for all of your encouraging and supportive words on my last post – I’ve reread them over the last few days numerous times and they’ve helped put me back on the right track.  Physically, I feel great.  My legs were a little sore on Monday (not even 1/2 as sore as they were after the NYC Half in March), and by Tuesday felt recovered and strong again. Emotionally, I’m getting there.  I think it’s helping that I have the Ironman to focus on now – as much as I want a redemption race, it’s just not in the cards for me now.  The IM is rapidly approaching (11 weeks!!) so time is of the essence.

So now the recap…it’s a lengthy one. I am writing this post in such detail because I want to remember every part – the good and the bad.  So if you plan on reading, you might want to get comfortable =)

After a fun, exciting week in Atlanta and working with Mizuno (more on that later this week), my husband, boys, and I flew back to Newark Friday morning.  We landed just before 2pm and after a quick stop at my mom’s to say hi, arrived home by 6pm.  No unpacking.  No cleaning the house.  Basic, easy dinner of whole wheat spaghetti (with crushed red pepper and coconut oil).

pasta2

After the boys were asleep, I did a 3 mile easy shakeout run on the treadmill (with 10 sets of 30 second strides).  My legs were extremely heavy and tight from being on the plane and I knew that I would regret now doing a short, easy run to loosen them up.  The rest of the evening was spent the rest of the night hydrating (with Nuun) and keeping my feet up.

shakeout

Saturday morning was spent unpacking and doing a ton of laundry, straightening up the house, packing and getting things ready for my mom who was coming over to babysit the boys until after the marathon.   My husband and I left the house just after 4pm to head to the expo. After picking up my race bib and a few last minute essentials (throw away gloves, PowerBar gels), we made our way to our hotel to check in.  Up until last week, I had no reservations for the marathon (I procrastinated too long and all the hotels were sold out).  But at the last minute, I was that a room at the La Quinta had opened up.  PERFECT.  The hotel was ~ 1/2 mile from the start line which made race morning a piece of cake.

We had a yummy dinner at Sofia’s restaurant and were back in our room by 9pm.  After laying out all the gear for the next morning, we were in bed just after 10pm with alarms set for 5:15am. Other than waking up briefly at 4am, I slept great and got more straight sleep than I have in MONTHS.

clothes

prerace

Race outfit: Mizuno Maverick Split short, Lululemon First Base tank, Saucony Ignite LT sportsbra, Saucony Guide 6 shoes, ProCompression socksSparkly Soul headbandGarmin 610

When I first got up in the AM, I used the bathroom and commented to my husband that the color was off (sorry if this is TMI).  After a few days of forced hydration, I was expecting for it to be much lighter than it was.  I didn’t think much of it at the time, but looking back, it was probably the first sign that I wasn’t as hydrated as I should / could have been.

My pre-race meal of 2 slices of whole wheat bread with peanut butter was a disaster.  I probably managed to choke down 1/2 slice.  I was so nervous that I was actually nauseous  and I could not swallow anything.

The race started at 8am, so at 6:45am, we started to make our way to the start area.  Being in the La Quinta made the morning so much less stressful.  We walked right over to the start area and avoided the crazy long line of cars backed up past the hotel.  I got into my corral by 7:30am and chatted with my husband who kept me company.  It was a totally different experience for me – all my previous marathons have been LARGE – Boston, NYC, Philadelphia.  So it was wonderful to not deal with tens of thousands of runners and feeling like a sardine in the corrals.

race start

There were pace groups for most 5 minute increments in my corral, but unfortunately, no 3:10 group.  I have never run with a pace group before, but had plans to keep the 3:10 pacer within view for as long as I could or even run with them in case the wind remained strong (which it did).

After the National Anthem, 26.2 seconds of silence and Sweet Caroline in support of Boston, the race began.

Miles 1-5:   7:10, 7:02, 7:08, 7:05, 7:09. After a quick loop around the racetrack, we began making our way northwest to the coast.  The wind was immediately noticeable.  Despite the forecast calling for minimal winds, there was a 15 mph headwind coming from the NE (my worst fear about doing the NJ Marathon was the wind along the coastline) for most of the first 7 miles.

miles 1-10

Looking back, maybe I should have backed off the pace just a bit to factor in the wind, but I felt great and even felt like I was forcing myself to slow down. I told myself to not run any 6:xx miles – especially early on; there were multiple times I’d look down and see I was running a 6:5x pace and gradually slow down a bit.

The 3:05 pace group passed me around mile 1.5/2 and although I had brief thoughts (fantasies?) about staying with them, I {smartly} let them pass me.  Once they were out of reach, I found myself alone for a while on the course – no one within 30-40 feet of me.  It was weird to be this alone so early in a race. We were running through neighborhoods at this point and the crowd support was minimal. But it was soothing. I enjoyed the quiet.

I realized two things in these early miles.  First, I knew that my Garmin was off.  I’ve mentioned it here before how off the distance has been for me in recent races.  By mile 2, I was .04 off.  By mile 5, I was closer to .10 off – that’s a BIG difference in time (around 45 seconds).  So I decided to run with what felt comfortable and not worry about what my watch said. {Note: Later on in the race, the difference between my watch and the mile markings stayed the same, so my Garmin seemed to be on track again.}  Second, by mile 2, I noticed that my mouth was dry.  Like SUPER dry.  I decided to try to take 2 water cups at each water point.  Luckily, many of the water points had alternating water/gatorade on either side of the road so I was able to take one from the left, keep running, then make my way to the right for another.

Miles 6-10: 7:05, 7:06, 7:02, 7:03, 7:11  I found my groove during these miles.  I was still hitting my goal pace for each mile – and with very little effort.  I felt great.  I was barely paying attention to my garmin.  I was running what felt comfortable and easy and was happy to see I was in the range I was hoping for.

I took my first gel at mile 4, second at mile 8.  Everything was on track. Stomach felt great. Legs still felt fresh.  I felt strong.  I was smiling.  Another runner and I started chatting sometime after mile 8 – he was trying for sub-3:10 as well.  It was nice to have company for a couple of miles and I found those miles to go by very quickly.  I even got to see my NYC girls TWICE during these miles – sometime around mile 5.5 and mile 8.5.

9 miles

{Photo Credit: Jocelyn}

Miles 11-15: 7:11, 7:11, 7:10, 7:13, 7:21  My husband jumped in to run with me for a few miles (ended up staying with me) just past mile 11.  Although the wind was coming from the E/NE, it still felt like it was a headwind.  I don’t know how that is possible – maybe just the wind coming from our left as we were running south, but I definitely started to feel more resistance. At points, it felt like a wind tunnel.

I came through the half just under a 3:10 pace (1:34:49 according to the race clock).  I knew that a 3:10 would be almost impossible at this point because I would be facing the wind on the return trip.  But, I knew that a 3:11, 3:12 was still well within my reach.

All of the miles were still on pace with the exception of mile 15.  It included a loop around a few blocks.  The out portion was great but the return was dead into the wind and I didn’t want to exert too much energy to get the pace down to my goal pace.

I took another Powerbar Gel at mile 12.  Legs still felt good.

I had to fight my first few mental battles during these miles.  The first was when we split from the half marathoners.  The half marathon started an hour or so before us and by mile 10, I began passing some of them.  At mile 12.5, the half runners split to the left and we kept going.  It’s always tough to know that you still have another half to run and others are done for the day.  The second mental battle was just passed mile 14.  My mind was beginning to doubt what was still ahead of me.  I told myself repeatedly to concentrate on a mile.  Focus on this ONE mile. Don’t stress about how many more I have to run.

Miles 16-20: 7:22, 7:22, 7:17, 7:23, 7:29  Not the 7:15s I was hoping to see, but I was still really happy with the pace.  I wasn’t forcing or pushing hard but letting my body run the pace that felt comfortable.  My husband decided to stay with me – not sure if he saw something that he was worried about (he says no…) or just wanted to keep me company.  But, man, I was glad to have him at my side.  At several water points, he would get me the water so I didn’t have to veer off to the side to get a cup. He would offer a few words of encouragement at points.  Just enough to keep me focused.

Couple of tough points during these miles: the male leader passed us on the out and back sometime after mile 16.  That was hard.  He was already up to mile 21.  There were a few more loops that required running directly into the wind – those parts were really tough.  I looked down at my garmin several times and saw my pace creeping up to 8.

We got to the turn around after mile 19 and I realized I hadn’t seen too many females ahead of me – I knew we had seen less than 10 (looking at the results, I think I was in 7th place at this point).  That was a confidence booster.  So was the fact that we were on our way back.  There is always something comforting in knowing you did the “out” portion and all that was left was to run back.

But the wind was brutal.  I had no idea how strong it was at this point (after the race I checked and it was sustained 15 mph) but it seemed pretty strong.  My pace immediately dropped after that turnaround.  I wanted to hold on to those 7:15s/7:20s, but it just felt too hard.   I had a few moments of panic, but after hitting mile 20, I knew I was still on track for sub-3:13.  I crossed the 20 miler around 2:25:30(don’t remember the exact time).  I knew if I could maintain 7:30 miles for the last 6.2 miles, I’d be just over a 3:12.  If I ran 8 min miles, I’d finish around 3:15.

Miles 21-22.5: 7:26, 7:57.  Mile 21 was right on track – just under the pace I had estimated.  By this point in the race, I was focusing on one foot in front of the other other.  My legs were tired.  I didn’t feel great but I didn’t feel lousy either.  Running 7:30 was becoming more difficult.  I knew the last 5 miles would be a battle.  I was ready for it.  In some weird, masochistic way, I was looking forward to it. You don’t expect to feel good at mile 21 of a marathon – especially one where you are looking to PR by over 8 minutes.  You tell yourself that the weeks of training all come down to these few miles.  My arms were welcoming the pain that I was sure would ensue.

I began mile 22 and shortly into it, I began feeling some tightening in my calves.  With each step, they seemed to cramp a little bit more. Within a few minutes, it was so bad, I had to stop. I stood off to the side of the course on the sidewalk and stretched my calves for 10-15 seconds, then started walking.  After about 15 seconds, I made the decision to continue running.  I finished the mile in 7:57 – even with the break, I was under the 8:00 pace I had set my eyes on.M

My calves felt okay and so I kept pushing.  4 miles left.

By mile 22.5, the pain had returned but this time it was exponentially worse.  It felt like stabbing, shooting pain going up the back of my legs.  I looked at my husband, started crying, said “I can’t”, and stopped.  I knew that stopping would be the end of the race for me.  Once I did, it felt like my whole body cramped – calves, quads, thighs.  It was as if my whole body decided to shut down.  For the next few minutes, I tried to hobble forward but quickly made the decision to stop.  It was too painful.  My calves felt like they were on fire and I needed to hold on to my husband to even walk.

And unfortunately, that’s where this recap ends.  Nothing after mile 22.5.

———————————————

So, 4 days later, I still don’t really know what caused this.  I’ve gone through a lot of different possibilities in my head.  This is what I’ve come up with:

  • Week in Atlanta: I didn’t have complete control over what I was eating (we ate out every single meal), I didn’t force hydrate enough, and I walked and stood around a LOT more than I am used to.  I am a creature of habit.  I do the Same. Exact. Thing.  before every long run and race.  I was not able to do everything that I’m used to doing this time around.  Working with Mizuno was a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I wouldn’t have passed on it even if I knew it could potentially sabotage my race plans.
  • Dehydration (or not being fully hydrated).
  • Salt Water? I’ve been told that the sea salt coming off the water can speed up dehydration (is this true?).  So maybe after a few hours of running along the coast, the salt water just further added to my already dehydrated state. 
  • Flat course. My calves may have been engaged more than they are used to because of how flat the course is.  All of my long runs this training cycle have included some hills in my neighborhood – a couple of steep ones and then lots of rolling hills.  The NJ Marathon is pancake flat, so maybe my calves just got more use? I’ve never run a flat marathon before so I don’t really have any experience to fall back on here.  Anyone deal with this on a flat course? 
  • Too long of a training plan.  This thought was in my head in the weeks leading up to the race.  I made my training plan extra long this cycle.  I felt that I wanted to ensure I had plenty of time to get long runs in – and having just given birth (in September), I knew that I would need to start my long runs on the lower end of where they should be starting (12 miles instead of 16-18).  I felt like I peaked at the NYC Half.  Everything about that race was amazing.  After that race, I found it much harder to get up in the AMs to workout and I wasn’t hitting my goal paces on some of the tougher runs.  Prior to NYC Half, every single workout was a success (with the exception of one 16 miler).
  • Too much focus on ONE race.  I don’t know if this really affected my legs, but I am writing it here because I know it affected me both nutrionally and mentally.  I don’t know if I have ever been this nervous in my life.  I was on the verge of crying with my husband at the start line because of how nervous I was.  I think it’s great to be nervous about a race – it means it matters to you, you are invested in it…and you will take the appropriate steps to be prepared for it.  But, I was the extreme of that.  I couldn’t eat that morning.  I couldn’t stop shaking at the start line.  While having a big goal is great (I don’t plan on changing my goal for my next one), I think I need to work on not making SUCH a big deal out of a race.  It IS JUST A RACE.
  • Ironman Training.  I’m sure this affected my performance – whether good or bad.  I know that I wasn’t able to run every single workout I wanted to after I decided to compete in the Ironman this summer – my training plan got shifted around and I had to take some workouts out.  I missed devoting myself 100% to running.

So as it stands now, the next marathon I run will be part of the 2013 Lake Placid Ironman.  After that race, I am going to relook my plans for an early fall marathon.  I may defer my entry into the Wineglass Marathon until next year (it’s only 10 weeks after Lake Placid) and sign up for a later marathon (as well as scratch the 50-miler plan…more on this in another post eventually!).

What are your thoughts?  Did you notice something with my training or preparation? 

Have you raced a flat marathon before?

Have you traveled the week before a marathon? 

 

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    65 thoughts on “NJ Marathon Race Recap

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    3. I’ve never commented before but felt i should definitely comment to this. First. I am sorry that those 3 nasty letters had to happen. But your body makes the decisions and it seems that those cramps/sharp pains in your legs were in charge. I also ran NJ. It was my 3rd marathon. I’m a slow runner. My first was NYC in 2011 where i finished in 5:28. I had back spasms and stomach cramping at mile 9!!!! I was texting all my friends telling them perhaps i wasn’t cut out for marathons. It was a sad moment. And i honestly thought that was going to be my first and last marathon. But then i was asked to fundraise and be part of NYC in 2012! I couldn’t say no. It was a friend’s charity org. and i felt compelled to help. Well we all know what happened there….SANDY! I’m a staten islander and i was emotionally a mess at that time. (thankfully live at the top of a hill and had no damage)….but then Philly opened up spots for us refugees and so off i went….hoping to redeem myself and break 5 hours. I came in at 4:57! I was over the moon. I wasn’t planning on doing another marathon until NYC 2013 but then a friend decided to sign up for NJ and I thought it would be nice to have something to focus on for winter training. And so that’s how i ended up running NJ. I totally agree about the CRAZY headwinds….especially at mile 15 after making that little horseshoe wrap around thingy…and then those miles down in asbury park before mile 20 (prob 17-20) were hard because of the uneven sidewalk and the meandering turns. For a second i thought i went the wrong way and panicked. From 20-26 i slowed down so much and struggled. Never cramped but just felt delirious. Dehydration for sure. The salt crystals were covering my face. I would agree that the sun and salt water combo had something to do with that. Think about when you go to the beach….how you come home so tired. Anyway, I wouldn’t worry about what you did prior to. I have a hunch that no matter what you did differently that this was just your fate that day. You are an AMAZING runner. Focus on IM….Don’t look back. Revel in the joy of having had your hubby run those last 15 miles with you. Love on your kids and focus on your tri-training. And congrats on the whole Mizuno experience…I recently got to be part of the dicks sporting goods “every runner has a reason” video series which was quite an amazing experience. (if you’re interested… dsg.com/runfor) I was week 2.

      • Sally, thank you so much for your beautiful words. I love what you said: Don’t look back. Revel in the joy…Love your kids…focus on your tri training. Thank you x 100. Sorry that you had a rough race too but glad that it wasn’t just me that was dealing with the wind/salt water/etc. Not sure I will do the full again next year…maybe just stick to the half =)
        Hope you have a wonderful memorial day! Going to check out your video now!!
        nycrunningmama recently posted..Tired is JUST a State of MindMy Profile

    4. I also ran NJ as my first ever marathon – the wind was definitely tough as my pace for miles 20-26 was about 20 sec per mile slower than 12-19 when we were running south. One thing I learned last year when doing Olympic tris and longish runs was that to avoid dehydration on race days, it helps to hydrate the day(s) before with Gatorade / salt containing drinks, instead of plain water. I used this strategy last year and it made a huge difference for me. The day before and morning of NJ I drank a mix of G2 with added salt packets (Gatorade makes some or you can buy salt pills) as well as EFS mix which is high in electrolytes. During the race I walked thru all the water stops since I suck at drinking while running, and alternated Gatorade / water. I did gels at about the same frequency as you did, probably every 30-35 min. You should definitely try this pre-race hydration strategy with some of your longer training sessions as you get ready for Lake Placid – good luck with the rest of your training!!

    5. Thanks for your honesty in sharing this recap. I know that change in routine leading up to the race (like travel) affect me big time. Especially if it involves plane travel (I get so dehyrdated). I think to your body may have been using more resources because you were so nervous, if you were shaking your muscles were making tiny contractions…that may have tired you out and worn you down in a way you didn’t expect. You continue to inspire me!
      Sarah @RunFarGirl recently posted..Time to be a HeroMy Profile

    6. Hey … I am sure I am repeating what’s already been said … I have ran 11 marathons but no expert !

      Your week prior to race was busy and out of your routine ….. I have had a similar experience and had to travel away for work .. Came to race day and I had a rubbish race … Cramps Etc ……

      Yellow mustard ….. Flat coke is my saviour to avoid cramps …. Small sips all way thru …..

      Flying ….after a flop after flying to a marathon I found out that you dehydrate twice / three times as much …. I now fly out 3 days before a race and hydrate beyond belief on electrolyte drinks !

      I think you know all this stuff …. Your recap if the race sent shivers down my spine as I have so been there ….. You got it on the head …. It is only a race ….. !!

      Your so correct on having another focus …. Something that is a massive challenge and also a pb or pr as you say in the US ! Regardless !!

      Inspiring and determined and very talented ! Ali from Scotland !!

      • Ali! LOVED your comment and your observations! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience from 11 (!!!) marathons =) The nerves totally freaked me out – I tried to tell myself to calm down, but it was crazy! Hope you had a wonderful weekend!
        nycrunningmama recently posted..Ironman Lake Placid (T – 12)My Profile

    7. I’m so sorry that happened. I definitely know the feeling of training hard for something and having it not go as planned, but you will hit your goal! Remember how strong you are and know that sometimes things are out of your control! What you said about putting so much pressure on one race is so true. Good luck with the ironman training and enjoy some rest!

    8. I have never run a marathon before so I can’t even imagine getting that far. I think sometimes no matter what and how we prepare, our body does not show up. Could it have been dehydration? Well maybe…but maybe not. Your running is a collection of races and the journey to get there. You have such a good mindset and I think you did the right thing 100% for placid.
      Hollie recently posted..Mountain Goat Run 10 Miler (1:08.23)My Profile

      • It’s just hard to grasp b/c this was the first time when my body did something it wasn’t supposed to…I mean, I’ve had bad run days before, but not to the point of physically not being able to go on. UGH. Hope you had a great weekend! =)
        nycrunningmama recently posted..Ironman Lake Placid (T – 12)My Profile

    9. Just a few quick quick things, but still so sorry things didn’t play out as planned on race day!

      1. seems dehydration did play a role. bummer. never heard the salt water and sweat rate thing. no idea on that.

      2. the only thing that allowed me to enjoy training,racing, and, especially, marathons was taking focus off of time and onto something else. I wrote a lot in my training journal (from believe i am) which I always found helpful. I’d write and then find so many things I didn’t know were holding me back. I suggest writing in a personal space as well as this blog!

      smart decision and can’t wait to see how the IM turns out!
      Meggie recently posted..On Being A Beginner Again…My Profile

      • MEGGIE! First, thank you so much for being out there on race day! You don’t understand how happy it made me to see smiling, cheering faces. Second, you are 100% right. I need to enjoy it all more. In the weeks leading up to the race, running became a forced thing filled with worry and angst – not the enjoyable time that I often treat it as.
        Hope you had a wonderful weekend!
        nycrunningmama recently posted..Ironman Lake Placid (T – 12)My Profile

    10. Two thoughts: the plane ride and nursing! I travel by plane for my job a lot (weekly at times though not right now thank goodness), and I think they say the % humidity in the air on a plane is 4 or less, way way lower than “normal” air, even on a more dry day. When I travel for work, I’m constantly thirsty no matter what I do. If you replaced the lost fluid with too much water and not enough electrolytes that could have contributed. Next, are you still nursing? This throws my electrolyte balance waaaay off. I normally hydrate with mostly water and some nuun. Now, nursing a 6 month old, I have to do a nuun plus almond milk, etc (seperately, not together…ha). Maybe one water a day. That could have contributed to an electrolyte issue as well.

      Regardless, I think you accomplished something amazing by running 22+ miles pretty much according to your plan. Just because you didn’t cross the finish line at 26.2 doesn’t mean that the miles you did finish don’t count! They do! And you will become a tougher, better runner because of this experience. Thanks for your continued inspiration and for sharing with us the good, the bad, and the ugly :-)

    11. You are amazing! and there is nothing harder than shaking off a goal race that went totally opposite than planned.
      NJ was my second full, and while I managed to pull some time off for a PR (kind of inevitable you will after your first) between the wind and the flatness (and dehydration, I knew I was before the race even began), I was cramping awfully in my calves. I went from an easy 2:07 half where I felt I wasn’t even pushing to finishing in 4:26.

    12. I ran a very flat half marathon course last year and it was my worst time for a half marathon EVER. I am not sure if that is the reason, but I have always wondered about that. Don’t let it get you down! You are still super amazing and super fast!

    13. You did an amazing job. I have read that flying can cause dehydration and learned that valuable lesson that hydration and nutrition are game changers with distance running. I strive to run those paces but am not there yet!! Good luck with the Iron Man training.
      Carrie H recently posted..Sweaty SurveyMy Profile

    14. Thanks so much for writing this recap. It really helps me to understand the weight of the marathon. We can train so well, and run so well even up until mile 23, and then BAMN everything changes. I am so thankful for your honesty. It will help so many runners including myself. It will be so crazy awesome if you run your IM and complete the marathon portion in 3:13 :) Good luck with all your training! I’ll be following.

    15. I know that when I travel the week of the race my legs feel very heavy and I definetly get dehydrated. You did awesome though and I love reading your blog. If you are looking for a fall race come out and do the Air Force Marathon. PERFECT race!!!

    16. I am just catching up on your race, so sorry that it didn’t go the way you expected. I travelled back from England the day before the AC half, and had the worst race ever (in my short time running). I felt dreadful, and just kept getting slower and slower, finishing over 4 min. slower than my NYC half time, 3 weeks earlier. I have decided that I won’t ever again fly in the few days before a race, I didn’t expect it to affect me too much, but that was the only difference for me. Although I was disappointed in the end I realized that not all races were going to be great, and I had just spent a couple of hours running along a boardwalk, in the sunshine. How bad could it actually have been? 😉
      I am running the AC half again in the Fall, that will be my redemption! Good luck with your Ironman training, I can’t wait to read all about that race!
      Amy @Honey Badger Runs recently posted..Post RaceMy Profile

    17. Thank you for a great post. I’m a new runner (little over a year) who is still looking forward to running my 1st Marathon NYC. Your statement about focusing on one mile at a time is just what i needed to hear as I prepare for the Brooklyn Half next week.

      I ran in the NYC half and was running well until mile 9 then my hip began to hurt and my mind shifted to how far I still had to go. I did finish however, if I changed my focus I would have changed my outcome and finished better.

      This post and your last have been really helpful and I have learned a lot.
      Best wishes for a successful ironman

      • Hey Stephen! Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m running Brooklyn next weekend as well (prob not racing it but will be out running!). Should be a great time!
        If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! I will also be out cheering the NYC Marathon this year =)
        nycrunningmama recently posted..NJ Marathon Race RecapMy Profile

    18. might sound weird but I have heard from a few of my ironman friends that they carry a packet of yellow mustard. It almost instantly illuminates muscle cramps. I have never personally tried it but in a situation like this it would have been worth it to try. They swear by it.

    19. I have had problems running after long plane flights (even when I wear compression gear flying), it takes me 3-4 days to get back to normal (but I am an old fart, not a young whippersnapper like you).

      One thing we tend to forget is that running in the wind dehydrates you also, in addition to making us work harder with a headwind. I remember when I was stationed on Sandy Hook, and ran down there that hydration was always an issue, due to the wind/extra effort required for me to run in it.

      Something I am going to look at more is using salt tabs during my long runs, because I do have issues with cramping in my calves too, when it is warmer.

      I am glad you made the choice to stop, instead of gutting it out and really injuring yourself.
      Harold recently posted..A Surprise Track Workout 5-8-13My Profile

      • You know what, Harold, I’ve never used salt tablets but have always said I should carry them just in case. When I sweat, I lose a LOT of salt – my shorts are usually half white by the time I finish (and they were on Sunday). So you may be onto something here.
        Thanks, as always, for your insight, Harold =)
        nycrunningmama recently posted..NJ Marathon Race RecapMy Profile

    20. First of all, you are amazing and inspirational and this race won’t define you.

      2nd. I HATE pancake flat marathon courses. My quads take it the worst. I actually like courses with a some changes in elevation. SO I am really with you on that. I’m actually nervous about Cleveland marathon next weekend for that reason. It’s damn flat and I worry how my legs are going to take it.

      I’m in no position to say what I think you did or didn’t do right…you’re an awesome and smart runner. My only guess would be hydration maybe…but honestly as runners we have good and bad days and it might just have been that. Trust me I have had some horrible race days, where it was a huge struggle and spent time crying and in pain too…It’s no fun but it will make you stronger and wiser.
      Laura recently posted..ENERGYbitsMy Profile

    21. You gave it your all-but one comment, I’m wondering how much the plane ride affected you-I get calf cramps from sitting like that too-and running flat is a killer on the calves (and I don’t know if I will ever run a marathon but a flat 5K is a killer to me) You are an amazing woman and athlete and I think your husband is such a great guy to run with you to keep you focused! I am sure he sensed you didn’t feel quite right from the beginning and though he may not have seen any one thing wrong, he understood that that day was just not the same as usual for Michele! Love you-Hugs and We’re all with you for your Ironman! Go get em! <3 Sue

    22. I haven’t run a marathon yet but I think your training was great. Like you, I run a lot of hills during training because of my neighborhood. I noticed that after the Nike half, my calves were killing me. I think it was because the course was mosly flat and my legs aren’t used to that.

      You are such an inspiration!!
      Natalie recently posted..Under Armour What’s Beautiful 3.0 CampaignMy Profile

    23. This actually had me about to cry! Great re-cap and I will say it again…you are amazing and inspiring. When you write about all your training I have no idea how you do it all and with two llittle kids! I don’t do as much and my kiddos are 9 and 11 and I think it is hard!
      I would agree with the too much focus on one race. I am no expert and I am not judging because focusing too much can be so easy to do!!! I usually have to continually talk myself down and tell myself it is only a race, no big deal. I have to just keep telling myself this over and over!!!! I am still usually nervous and I never sleep that good the night before a race…but I just keep telling myself its no big deal just do my best. I also remeber this is something I love doing and I do for fun, it is not nearly as important to me and so many other things in my life (like God and my family and friends) :).
      All this just to say you gave it your all and you are a winner in my book!

    24. Sometimes things just don’t line up. I ran a marathon a few years ago where I had done everything right (or so I thought). I was SO ready to kill it and make a major PR. Unfortunately, I made it to mile 15 and my IT band was so knotted up, my hip was giving up about every 50-100 feet. I wish I had the guts to pull to the side and not injure myself further (I was out of running for a while as a result). Instead, I hobbled the rest of the marathon and crossed the finish line crying. There was no relief or pride in doing that. You should be so proud of yourself for doing the SMART, SAFE thing; sometimes our bodies are telling us “today is not the day” and we really need to listen. It’s the hard runs that make us stronger!
      Annie recently posted..Soup With a Side of Hulk HoganMy Profile

    25. I think your training was amazing, and even though you had some setbacks, you dealt with them well.
      Since you cramped at mile 22, I’d guess that the problem was glycogen depletion and/or “incorrect” pacing. You were clearly going for it – and I am SOOOO impressed with that! But pacing is risky business, and even a few seconds/mile can make a difference when you’re running at that level of intensity.
      But seriously – you are a fantastic athlete and a courageous athlete, and that is the very best kind :)

      • Hey Sara…it could have been, but I’ve “bonked” in races before and this felt nothing like that. I didn’t feel like I had no energy or couldn’t run the 7:30 pace I had run the last mile. My calves just tightened up to the point of not even being able to stand. When I”ve bonked (hit the wall) before, my pace would drop significantly – like by a minute or more. This is not what happened on Sunday. My pace was still fairly consistent – the last mile I ran (before the pain) was still only 11 sec off what I had set out for. That’s virtually no change!
        nycrunningmama recently posted..NJ Marathon Race RecapMy Profile

          • No offense taken :)

            Actually, I apologize for not being more clear. I am not suggesting that you hit the wall. Actually, the fact that you didn’t hit the wall indicates that your cramping really might have been caused primarily by muscle fatigue (neural fatigue).

            Had you been dehydrated, you probably would have bonked in general. You might have also experienced general cramping. But your cramping was isolated.

            Muscle fatigue, however, causes spindle activity to increase and Golgi tendon organ activity to decrease, and that results in muscle contraction, usually affecting active muscles that span two joints (very often – the calf).

            I am not a scientist, but I’ve read a lot of research on this, including a study of IM athletes which found that athletes who paced themselves to run/bike even slightly faster than they were capable of sustaining were the ones to experience severe cramping.

            Of course, no one really knows what causes cramping, and I’m sure it can be a combination of several factors. There are a lot of theories involving sodium/potassium deficiency and dehydration, but you are very good about fueling and you didn’t seem to suffer from any of the other symptoms related to those problems, so that’s why I lean towards the muscle fatigue theory in this case.

            I would say that you shouldn’t stress about it though. It happened this time, but that definitely doesn’t mean it will happen again!

            • And to clarify again – I am not saying that 3:10 is more than you are capable of! Maybe just for that day, on that course, with that wind, after that flight, etc. But I am positive that you are capable of 3:10 and perhaps even sub-3:00 in the not-so-distant future :)

            • Jumping in here as I read through the comments of others. I think Sara nailed it right on the head. Your stretch goal was 3:10, which is 7:15/mi and you were running the first 10 miles in 7:05-7:10 range against the wind, which is most definitely going out a bit “hot”. So by the time you got to 21-22, your muscles were simply too fatigued. Pretty sure the cramping was muscle fatigue and not so much dehydration.

              Sounds like you’ve got plenty on your plate with IM training to move on from this, but if there is one thing to take away and apply it to your IM race, it is that patience always wins in endurance events. You can only push through so much before your body fails in one way or another. IMs are a test of your ability to slow down the least, because I can assure you, you will slow down. Everyone does. It’s all about what you do on the swim and the bike, to allow yourself to keep going on the run. Best of luck in the next 2 months as you really start pushing those long workouts!
              LesserisMore recently posted..Fine Tuning for the Brooklyn HalfMy Profile

    26. I to think your amazing!

      I agree with above, a crazy travel week combined with dehydration could’ve done it. Unfortunantly you’ll never know for sure. Be proud that you made it as far as you did and that you were smart enough to know when to stop. Good luck in the rest of your training!

    27. It’s so hard to know why something happens during a run. Sometimes, there isn’t an exact reason, it just happens. My husband tells me this when I agonize over the “why”.

      I ran Chicago nearly nine years ago and the thing that stood out to me the most about that race was the way my calves felt. I’ve never felt that before and I haven’t felt it again. They felt as though they were going to pop out of my skin and in my race photos that’s exactly how they look.

      I imagine the flat roads had a pretty big effect on your calves.
      Jess recently posted..On Being That Person in a Fitness ClassMy Profile

    28. I’m going to take a really crazy view on this here…I don’t think it was dehydration. The more I keep learning about hydration, the more I think we all tend to overdo it. Perhaps instead your salt levels were actually diluted and that led to the cramping. Check into the writings of Dr. Timothy Noakes on this–there’s a fantastic podcast he did on Runner’s Connect that really delves into this. Just a thought to take in.

      And I have done a couple of flat marathons and I’d say they are harder on the body b/c you use those same muscles over and over and over…
      misszippy1 recently posted..Psst&#8230;there are races other than the marathonMy Profile

        • You know what, I think you are onto something. I never stopped sweating on Sunday – which is usually the tell-tale sign of dehydration. But, my shorts were half white from salt loss (this is VERY common for me)…I have thought about using salt tablets but just assumed that if I hydrated properly (not just water but electrolytes) and increased my salt a bit before the race, I’d be okay.
          Thank you for the book recommendation!! I am going to order it now!!
          nycrunningmama recently posted..NJ Marathon Race RecapMy Profile

      • I’d agree w/ Miss Zippy too. I’d also consider that you had compression socks on … cramping calf being compressed is hard to overcome.

        I don’t have nearly the experience as some of the runners here but I’ve had instances where the compression socks have caused problems when I try and run in them. If my foot starts to cramp I can’t shake it no matter how hard I try and stretch it out with the socks on. I went through a tough time in my training where every run I was in pain. No plantar fasciitis. Changed shoes (multiple times). Hydrated. Did everything I could think of. Finally my husband suggested trying w/out the compression socks. Well, that did the trick. Now I use them for recovery but not while I run. Just a thought…

        BTW, I religiously read your blog. You are such an inspiration. Good luck w/ the Ironman!

        • Jennifer – thank you SO SO SO much for your sweet comment and your insight about compression socks. Until you wrote that, I had never heard of that before. This was my first marathon wearing the socks. I wore them for the half and felt like they “worked”…maybe it was b/c I ran the time I wanted so in my mind, they did what they were supposed to do. My husband told me the same thing last week – so, no more socks for me (during long runs/races) for the time being…
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    29. michelle,
      You are truly AMAZING. I read both your blogs about the NJ marathon. you truly are an inspiration to all of us MOMS out here, so keep up the great work.

    30. I’ve had trouble with cramps, too, but in my feet. I’m still not sure about how to prevent them and would love to have the answer! But now it’s time to put your feet up and know that you ran a really speedy 22.5 miles!
      Tina@GottaRunNow recently posted..Deer, Then SpeedMy Profile

    31. Agree with Nicole above. You are amazing! I’m sure the cramping was a combination of many things, including dehydration, wind, and your crazy travel week. I’m always exhausted after a week of traveling. I remember doing a race the day after I got back from a long business trip, and it was awful. I also think you need to give yourself more credit. You’re less than a year out from having a baby. Your body is still recovering after the stress of pregnancy and delivery, so the fact that you’re already back in peak shape is incredible! Can’t wait to follow your IM journey. Competing in an Ironman is a future goal for me too!
      Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted..Race Recap: Laurel Run AscentMy Profile

      • It’s funny, Nicole. I never even thought to add pregnancy/childbirth to the list of factors. HA. I guess I just expect a lot from my body and assumed 7 months is more than enough time. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement during this whole training cycle – means so much to me! xo
        nycrunningmama recently posted..NJ Marathon Race RecapMy Profile