NYC Marathon Reflections: The Problems That Weren’t, and What I’d Change

The New York City Marathon went very well for me, but there are a few things that could have been HUGE problems, and a few things I’d change for next time.

Potential Huge Problems:

Blisters on my feet.

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I was good about not wearing heels the last week or so before the marathon because I didn’t want any extra strain on my calves, but I made a huge mistake: I wore brand-new shoes on Friday. I have really sensitive feet, and almost any new pair of shoes causes me blisters, but somehow I thought these cute shoes would be different. Well, they weren’t, and by the end of the day Friday, my toes and heels were covered in blisters. I coated my feet in Vaseline before the race, covered the blisters with Band-Aids, and hoped for the best. I had so much Vaseline on my feet that I felt my feet slipping around in the first mile, but this Vaseline saved me.

Not eating enough before…or eating too much.

Four marathons, 20+ half-marathons, and I still struggle with achieving the balance of having eaten enough to fuel me well but not eating too much and feeling sick. The night before the race, I went to Patsy’s in Chelsea and had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. I tried to be really cognizant of my hunger cues so that I didn’t eat too much. Well, I got home and felt sick to my stomach, though that could have been nerves.

In that same vein, I struggle with whether I’m eating enough or too much race morning. Most of my long runs, I’ve felt really, really hungry towards the end, and that always makes me nervous that I’m underfueled. For my 19 miles at the Runner’s World weekend, I had a PIcky Bar and a half and had to make a bathroom stop. And felt hungry towards the end. I decided marathon morning that 1.5 bars + a banana would be good. Looking back, I totally could have gone wild and crazy and had that second half of a bar. I felt a little bit hungry for real food around mile 10, and this made me nervous that I’d underfueled, but I stuck to my 3 Shot Bloks every 5 miles plan, supplementing it one half of a banana around mile 19 and another half around mile 21. I had a full banana during the marathon. Best marathon ever.

That New Bra

This is so weird, but I wore a new-ish regular bra last week, and when I took it off to go to sleep, I had some serious chafing. From a regular bra. Apparently the underwire had seriously dug into me and chafed me like crazy. Um, what?? I was really nervous that this would get continually irritated during the marathon, but I Vaseline-d the crap out of it, and hoped for the best.

That T-Shirt That Chafed Me Before

My race shirt was the same cut shirt I wore for the Grete’s Half that chafed the crap out of me. This made me a bit nervous, but I’d worn this same shirt for Marine Corps the year before, and it was fine, so I wore and hoped for the best, but still had a bit of fear in the back of my mind that it would chafe me again.

What I’d Change for Next Time

I didn’t have to stop to pee during the race, so I am happy I did not over hydrate. I brought some salt in a Ziploc and had it pre-race and had some Nuun before the race. For the past month or so, I’d been planning on bringing a handheld with Nuun in it and probably ditching it at some point on the course. I didn’t want to drink Gatorade, because I was afraid of it messing with my stomach, but this means I didn’t replace any lost electrolytes over the course of 26.2, except for a little Gatorade I took around 21-22 because I was hoping for a magic boost in those rough miles. That was also the last time I took water, because I didn’t want to lose a second. I ended up having quite a cushion, so I could have taken a little bit of time to be smarter and hydrate more in those last few miles, and I’d definitely carry a handheld with Nuun so that I could take in some electrolytes that I know won’t affect my stomach.

All training cycle, I’d been using Margarita Shot Bloks or Honey Stingers. I didn’t think about getting fuel until Saturday afternoon, when I realized I didn’t have any Shot Bloks or Stingers. I went to the expo again on Saturday to say hello to people and was too overwhelmed by the busy expo to spend more time looking for the margarita flavor. I’d picked up some black cherry ones that morning, and decided they’d be fine, and that I’d rather get off my feet then spend time stressing out about getting the margarita ones. In the future, I will make sure I have the margarita ones, as the salt content is so, so clutch.

Have you ever had a situation you thought would be a huge problem during a race that was just fine?

15 comments on “NYC Marathon Reflections: The Problems That Weren’t, and What I’d Change

  1. Ada

    Great post! I ran NYC as well and also struggled with trying to maintain the perfect balance of fueling. I’ve found that pasta with sauce the night before and then a bagel with nutella the morning of works best for me. During NYC this year I ended up taking three gels which also seemed to work well. Was such a fun race!!!! Congrats.
    Ada recently posted..New Brunswick, NJ: Old Man Rafferty’s

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  2. Amanda

    Really good info in this post! I didn’t have any blisters in training for the NYC Marathon and thought I’d be lucky/in the clear for the race but in the last 3 miles I got about 6 blisters, KILLER! Any tips for how to avoid that? Should I have vaselined my feet beforehand?

    I was also really worried about what to eat since the race started so late but I did almost the same thing you did.

    As for hydration- I gave 3 7oz water bottles filled with nuun to my friends cheering for me to pass to me at certain mile points to ensure I was hydrated the whole way through. This really helped me out- maybe something for you to try next time!

    Reply
  3. Christina

    Ugh all that chafing. BEFORE the race! That would have really bothered me, but it doesn’t seem like it affected your race much, at least.

    Ok, so the salt in the margarita Shot Bloks… I normally take Gatorade G-Chews (they work for me and are fairly inexpensive) or Carb Boom Apple Cinnamon gels, though to date my training runs haven’t been very long, and usually take place in the cooler months when heat isn’t a factor. The salt in the shot bloks is really effective, though? I might just try them out – even in cool weather training, I often run without any water and I’m thinking the salt in the Bloks might work better for me than a gel.

    Another thing I’ve noticed, that you mentioned, pertaining to pre-race meal/race day breakfast, is one I learned from my BF (sub 3 marathoner), is that I need to eat FAR more than I think. And I mostly run 10ks/10 milers/half marathons. I used to eat lightly, thinking that I didn’t want to be too full, but it wasn’t until I started waking up early before my long runs to get in a decent breakfast (waffles and syrup) that I noticed I felt even better than usual. I carried this over to my pre-race meals and I feel like it’s what has made the difference over the last couple of miles of the race. Just something to think about, and maybe test out during your next training cycle.
    Christina recently posted..Update: Saving for the Holidays with Walmart Family Mobile’s Unlimited Plans

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  4. Rebecca Jo

    The call of cute new shoes! UGH!

    That’s scary you didn’t have any electrolytes for so long!!!! Glad that didn’t cause bad issues for you.

    You learn from each race…

    Reply
  5. Ashley

    The St Louis half that I ran a few weeks ago started at 7 AM (before the sunrise, thank you) and was about 30 degrees leading up. I have never raced in those conditions and was FREEZING, but once I got moving warmed up and started ditching my layers. Including my gloves. Worst.Decision.Ever. Keep gloves when it’s freezing, Ashley. My hands went numb holding my Ipod and bar, and were seriously cramped for days after.

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  6. Liz H

    Dumb question: Do Clif shots not have electrolytes?! I don’t drink the gato either (I haven’t had gato in a race since my unfortunate DNF in the 2010 Chicago Marathon), so I take the Clif shot gel things every 3-5ish miles… and I totally just thought this was enough?! But I did feel reeeeeeeeeally depleted around mile 20. Perhaps it was the lack’o’electrolytes?! Man. I cant wait go back and just straight dominate NYCM. So many things I’d do differently.
    Liz H recently posted..New York City Marathon 2013 Recap

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    1. Theodora Post author

      Okay, so I just looked up the sodium thing: margarita shot bloks have 3x the sodium than the other ones.

      Reply
  7. Dori

    Ah, the shoes. That is the worst feeling ever when you realize you basically self sabotaged. I’m so glad it didn’t ruin or even affect your race in any way! I’m wearing new shoes today, 1.5 weeks before my marathon, and already worrying about one blistery spot. As for the eating situation… that is one of my big issues with NYCM. You have so much time between wake up and run that it’s hard to figure out the right balance of how much to eat (and drink so you’re hydrated but not peeing like crazy). I find it simpler at races where you wake up, get ready and head right to the start. Even then it’s still a struggle. I feel like I eat far less than most people before a marathon so then I doubt myself but on the other side, I take in many more calories while running so I guess it evens out.
    Dori recently posted..Richmond Marathon Training: Week 17 – My Intimidating Tempo

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    1. Theodora Post author

      When I realized that, I was like WAIT, SERIOUSLY? If I just screwed my whole marathon because I bought some stupid shoes with dogs on them…

      Reply
  8. Jillian

    I like to worry about stuff I can’t control… Like the weather. I spent the entire spring anticipating 70-80 degree temps at the Vermont City Marathon. Turns out it was 39 and raining! Still, I’d take that over heat any day.

    Congrats again. I’m so happy for you and am even more inspired to get out there and crush 3:59:59!
    Jillian recently posted..Three Years

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  9. Liz

    First off congrats!!!!! AHHH! So happy for you!

    I’m still in shock that I ran blister and chafe free!

    I’m always worried about having to poop 🙂 Seriously, it’s been an issue on training runs, but THANKFULLY never during a long race (just once during a 5k) Probably TMI, but I know I’m not alone 🙂
    Liz recently posted..NYCM

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  10. MomwithKids

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    A diabetic styled diet caused people WITHOUT diabetes to lose belly fat fast.

    This worked because the diet reversed inflammation. All Belly fat is from inflammation.

    here http://tryingtoloseweightgirl.blogspot.com/2013/08/i-really-need-to-lose-20-pounds-what.html

    Reply

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