Monday, March 23, 2015

Race Report: Rock 'n' Roll Marathon - Washington, DC

This year, I decided to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon as part of my 50 Mile training program. I’m not a fan of massive, corporate marathons, but with so many friends participating, and its proximity to my house, I decided to give it a go. Below is a quick recap of the race and some of the experiences/accomplishments.

Since I was using it as a training run, I had two major goals: run a smart race, and dial-in my nutrition. For the most part, I think I was pretty successful.

Goal #1 - Run a Smart Race
Stemming from my frustration with my performance at the Marine Corps Marathon last October, I was really set on this goal. I knew as long as I kept an even pace (or a negative split), I’d maintain a fun run, and finish with a solid time. And, much to my excitement, I was right! I kept a solid pace, and felt super strong in the last five or so miles.

I think there were a few keys to my success (also very, very common advice you can find anywhere)!
  1. Didn’t get caught up in the race-start hype! I let myself ease into the race, and I didn’t waste a lot of energy moving through the crowds.
  2. Focused on my form, breathing, and other physical elements of my running. I didn’t have any music, and with the rain, the crowds were much smaller than normal.
  3. Paid attention to my watch. I normally hate looking down at my watch so much, but I needed to stay on top of my pace at all times.
  4. Used mantras when it got tough. Around mile 24 or so I was starting to hurt a bit. I took a moment and just thought about the pain, and whether it was really going to impact my strong finish. After really focusing on the issue and how bad it hurt, I was able to really get over it and keep going.

The end result of all of that looks like this:

Goal #2 - ‘Practice’ Nutrition Strategy
A big part of training for a 50 mile race is figuring out a nutrition strategy. I’ve got a pretty good feel for what I am going to do, but it always helps to practice. Since this marathon was going to be a bit shorter, I planned to use only Tailwind Nutrition for my calories and electrolytes. I typically do the same for ultras, but I’ll thrown in other munchies I know my stomach can handle as well.

In addition to testing the nutrition, I also had to test the delivery. I recently switch to the Ultimate Direction AK vest, and wanted to put it through a longer run (I had done a few before with it, because as we all know, nothing new on race day!). Using the two bottles, I put in about three scoops of tailwind in each, and then stuffed the back of the best with some extra packets.

For the most part, my nutrition was pretty good. I could have been better about getting more water in toward the end, but I didn’t bonk, and felt good until the finish.

Overall, it was a pretty good confidence boost for North Face!

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