Dina's Boston Marathon Prep: The Finale!

Race day is over, so it’s time to report on my results! Nutrition the night before race day went pretty much as planned: grilled chicken, salted sweet potato wedges, steamed broccoli and salad (the latter unplanned). I was lucky to be staying at a friend’s house who was so gracious in sharing his kitchen and indulging me in my current favorite pre-race dinner combination. Plus, he was willing to share a few bites of his dark chocolate bar after dinner! For fluids, I drank water, decaf black tea, and Nuun electrolyte mix. I monitored hydration by urine color and frequency rather than exact volume amounts. Everything appeared to be on track. I slept about 6 hours, which was adequate considering my pre-race anxiety level. It’s Boston after all!

On race day, I awoke at 5:30am and got myself packed up and ready. I had planned to wear my Fuel Belt, carrying two 6 oz. bottles of Nuun, a handful of Gu Chomps, Sport Beans and extra Gu gel with caffeine (part of my Plan B and C!). I sipped water and a cup of coffee around 6am. This was my first Boston marathon, so I wanted to make sure I had ample time to get to the start area. We left the house at 6:30 to make the 50-minute drive to the shuttle bus. I arrived at the start area around 7:45am and found a spot to sit on the ground that was protected from the cold winds. My original ‘Nutrition Plan A’ was to have a chocolate Generation UCAN about an hour before my wave started at 10:20am. I changed ‘Plan A’ because I was starting to feel hungry (maybe partly induced by stress and nerves) and drank my chocolate Generation UCAN at 8am instead. I noticed others around me eating all kinds of other carbs: bagels, bars, gels, cereal, etc. My coach reminded me not to get behind on my nutrition because once behind, I wouldn’t be able to catch up. I contemplated changing my nutrition plan further to include some other carb source, but quickly assured myself to stick with the plan - this was my time to test my metabolic efficiency. At 9:15am, I drank a lemonade Generation UCAN for an extra boost of SuperStarch and had a few more sips of water. So, even before race start my ‘Nutrition Plan A’ had changed to ‘Plan B’. After a potty stop, some dynamic stretches, and waiting in the corral for 10 minutes, I was ready to hit the road.

I had a target pace for the first half of the race, but wasn’t able to achieve this. In fact, my first mile was at a 8:18 pace. I was far back in the pack and It was tough to navigate my way through. As a result, I got frustrated and skipped several of the water stations. I had gulped some Nuun, but realized I may have started a bit late on my hydration. I pushed on hoping for the pack to thin out, which didn’t seem to happen until after the half way mark. I’m not sure what the temperature was, but the sun was shining and I was sweating. I started to take water at most of the following stops and took Nuun periodically. I actually didn’t use my watch to tell me when to drink but went by thirst. My energy level was great and it showed in my mile splits staying fairly consistent throughout even through the Newton Hills!

I did end up having a couple of the Chomps and Sport Beans between miles 14 and 24, a total of 88 calories worth to be exact. I had forgotten to pack a piece of gum (another part of my Plan A) so the chews and beans gave my mouth a different flavor. I actually didn’t feel hungry during the race so I’m not sure I needed the extra carbohydrate, but I had tried the Chomps during previous long runs to test GI tolerance. I was thrilled to not “need” all the nutrition I had packed with me.

In conclusion, my nutrition didn’t follow ‘Plan A’ to a tee, but my ‘Plan B’ was just a slight variation. This was my first marathon with absolutely no GI distress, no hunger, and noticeably strong energy levels with very little muscle fatigue. We athletes tend to only focus on our finish times to tell us success. Well, I have a new personal best at 3:24:55 (an improvement by a whopping 17 minutes and 17 seconds! from just 6 months prior). This is a thrill for me, but I think an equally great success is how well my metabolic efficiency training worked! I can’t wait to test it even more this year!