Boston Marathon Recap, Diet and Injury Notes, Next Steps

10155072_10152817025349832_3366551049269112929_nIt’s been a few weeks since Boston, and after whacking the race video footage I shot with my friend Bob’s Google Glass into a 15-minute course video, I’ve been working, traveling, taking the kids to track practice, and otherwise not thinking much about running – other than when taking some nice easy paced runs. So these notes are bit after-the-fact, which is just fine since there’s not much dramatic to report beyond the beauty of the day itself, the runners, the crowd and the wonderful reboot after last year’s sorrows.

Pace and Training

I confess, I did not push to 100% capacity during this race. I’d say I was at 85-90 percent. I knew I hand’t done enough training to run a PR or compete with my own better race times. But I had a good run for the training miles I got in.

To recap, I was injured from Nov. 2013 through Jan. 3, 2014. I ran a total of two runs, 15 miles, during that entire two-month stretch.

The following week, on Jan. 4, I ran 5 miles, then 25 miles, then 26 the week after that. That brought me to 12 weeks until Boston. I wrote this training plan: Here’s the plan as planned. And here’s the plan as executed.

You can see looking at the two spreadsheets, these are miles apart. I wasn’t even close to fit enough when I started to run the first weeks of this plan. Simply fell apart trying.

I was overly optimistic about how quickly I could ramp up. I managed 10 weeks over 40 miles, one week over 50, but I never got the 60 mile weeks I’d hoped for. By March 2, I felt so beaten up from trying to make this comeback so fast, and likely from not having my nutrition dialed in, that I was ready to bag the whole thing. I moaned about that “Forrest Gump moment” here and contemplated quitting running entirely, or at least quitting running marathons. I was serious. My wife, Kristen, likely predicted at the time it was just the fatigue talking.

Instead of quitting, I reset my expectations, stayed patient during a second set of minor injuries (calf strain and Achilles tendinitis flareup), and ran the race for the joy of the event and experience, with no hard and fast time goal in mind.  I thought I might be able to run a 3:08, but really wasn’t sure.

I finished in 3:12:17, avg. pace 7:21, 4,616th finisher, and 788th in my division, and was I happy. I was pretty consistent through mile 16, then slowed down a bit as I hit the hills and afterward, but I wasn’t walking – or bonking. I just didn’t have the training mileage in my legs to maintain the quicker pace in the last miles. Fastest mile was 6:59, slowest mile was Heartbreak Hill at 7:56. I managed to pick it back up a good bit after that, but I was definitely slowing again by the final miles. It was great to be shooting video; an excuse for all that lollygagging!

Diet

As I’d noted at the beginning of the training cycle, my goal was to try and do this whole thing on an extremely low-carbohydrate diet, become ever more fat adapted, and see if I could run the race without a carb-loading phase and sugary sports drinks and gels. As you know if you follow the blog, I did not manage that. I discovered that in order to run the second half of training weeks strongly, I needed to carb up after hard workouts. I experimented with full carb reload days, and starting with the Thursday before the race (with the exception of fasting on Good Friday), ate high carb meals up through race day, including pancakes and a bagel morning of, Hammer Gels and Gatorade during, and French Fries afterward.

The training had shown me that either: a.) Running at intense efforts day after day week after week requires extra carbs, even for someone well adapted to life in ketosis, which would be the common wisdom, or b.) I was not long enough adapted to ketosis.

I’m back in ketosis now – I resumed very low-carb eating the day after the race – and I’m going to continue this experiment, as I remain convinced of the health benefits of low-carb eating, and the endurance athletics benefits of fat adaptation.

Injuries

The left knee injury that sidelined me all winter held off; it aches sometimes and I think it always will, but I did a lot of hip and glute exercises to keep it at bay – thanks Physical Therapist Brian!

I strained my left calf about halfway through, and that migrated to my Achilles. The same leg I’d had the knee problem with. Wondered right up until week of if I was going to be able to run on it. Then, day of the race? No issues. You can see on the training plan how much I’d rested it. My taper was pretty much a full rest. And it worked.

The other injury, which had plagued me since before Boston last year, was the Morton’s Neuroma. That, I am happy to report, is very nearly gone! After seven injections of alcohol directly into the nerve, the neuroma has shrunk to the point where my podiatrist has said no need to return unless it does!

Summary

And that’s that. I’m not going to strain for a piece of writing here that sums up the emotion of the day, tries to get at the history of what this particular running of the Boston Marathon made. Perhaps I ran it out, or talked it out with the folks there after, or in the days and weeks after. Or maybe I’m not ready, or just don’t understand any of it well enough to put it into prose. So instead I’ll leave you with the video I shot that day.