London Marathon- The Reflection

You have read my race recap and I covered the elite experience and build up. As you know, I did have a great race, and it really was the most enjoyable race I have ever run, but was that just down to good luck?

I am sure you already know the answer to this; absolutely not.

Anyone who has followed me for the last few months knows that I went through a lot of ups and downs, and a lot of moments where I wondered if it was all worth it, but the perseverance in those moments paid off on April 26.

I would like to use this post to reflect on what went right, what went wrong, and what we are going to change in the future.

This may be a long post, but it can give you insight into little changes you can make to get the most out of your running.

You do not need to overanalyze, nor spend as much time perfecting each area as we have if you do not want to, but the more of these you can control, the better. Don’t worry, I still made some mistakes too 🙂

Attitude

This was by far my biggest success….okay, maybe the form change was a bigger challenge overcome, but my attitude had the biggest impact on my race day result.

I went into the race with a goal of enjoying it, finishing with a smile, and that is exactly what I did. In most photos I am smiling from ear to ear……almost awkwardly, and I wonder what people were thinking as they saw me!

Elite runner Tina Muir reflects on London Marathon, and shares what aspects went right and wrong. This is really helpful for learning what areas elites focus on, and what you can too!

Of course I went through waves of doubt, but they only lasted a few minutes, and I honestly think that was because I wanted to pull myself out of it.

A lot of the time I think we almost want to feel sorry for ourselves, to have an excuse, to take the easy way out. But, as my goal was to enjoy it, all I had to do was remind myself of that, I was able to back off the pace (without feeling pressure) for a few moments, enough to gain control back.

This made me think of something my friend Carla said in her new book, What You Can When You Can. If you have not heard about it, you need to. A great pick me up book, and a wonderful reminder that there is no such thing as perfect, you know I am all about accepting who you are!

“When we’re determined we stick to our vision; when we’re obsessed, our vision has narrowed so much our goal is all we see—and the rest of life passes us by.”

This was my mindset in previous marathons, I was obsessed with that time goal, and life did pass me by. It was only when I let that go, that I could actually run to my potential.

Nerves

I was a little nervous before the race, but mostly that was because of not really being able to go to the bathroom the morning of the race….even after 2 hot teas…..okay, I was not just a little nervous about this, I was VERY nervous about this.

Nerves for performance wise; this was the least I have felt. I mostly just felt excitement to get out there, although I did describe that the few days before felt like I was waiting to be shot at; wincing as I knew it would hurt, but just wanting to take it on, rather than waiting.

Fuel Before

Overall, very good.

I know I took in enough carbs, and I actually think I may have overdone it a little, as I think I probably had 95% white carbs in the two days before.Carb Loading

That was most likely the reason I could not go to the bathroom, especially when my body is used to a good amount of fiber……too much information? Probably, but I know you enjoy my honesty 🙂

I was terrified my stomach was going to upset me in the race, but I had no issues, even after. Phew! That was however, a lesson to be learned; carb load, but not excessively.

My pre-race breakfast (banana and 1-2 bowls oatmeal with honey 3 hours before, plus banana 1 hour before) was good, and I will be sticking to that from now on.

Fuel During

During the race I took 3 Powerbar gels at miles 7.5, 14, and 21. I took water on with those gels (about 6 sips), and took water an additional 4-5 times. This was by far my best experience with this, I did not choke once, and each time it went down easy. They had small bottles with a pressure spout lid, which made it so easy to squirt water into my mouth.

I also had my Enduropacks electrolyte spray tucked in my shorts, and sprayed it around mile 11 at one of the water stations. Psssst. Remember you can use my coupon code “tinamuir” for $10 off your first pack, 10% off your second 🙂

Steve and I had practiced each aspect of fueling multiple times before the race, and I think that made a huge difference.

IMG_8163

I would recommend that to anyone, and the more you practice, the more comfortable your body is with what you are doing, so when you are under stress, it does not panic. You can read more about my fueling strategy here.

Racing Uniform/Kit

I had worn every aspect of my race day outfit multiple times, and I am happy to report that I had no chafing, blisters or any discomfort from my clothing. The yellow socks were very helpful for loved ones being able to pick me out too, thanks Dale 🙂 Once again, I would recommend these Saucony Bullet Shorts, and the Saucony Breakthru were the perfect raceday shoe.

Tina Muir Long Run

Form

When I initially looked through the photos, I was a little disappointed, as a few of them showed definite over striding, but looking a little closer, many of those are on downhills, which would give me a little bit of an excuse. Charlie took this photo, which shows decent form, and this was at mile 23. This reassured me that my form was still okay at this point, but we are still a way from where we want to be.

Tina Muir London marathon Mile 23

We are booked to go back to UVA in a month, so that will be really interesting, but we already know that I came a LONG way these past few months!

Ego

In the few days before the race, my dad said he was a little worried about my attitude as he could tell I was getting sucked back into the “competitive mindset” and starting to talk about pace.

It was the reminder I needed, but I felt that I was in control for the most part, and did not let my ego overtake the goal I had committed to.

During the race I did not look at my Garmin, and did trust my body to tell me what to do, rather than my ego. I let people pass me early in the race, and I passed people when it mattered…..by the way, I found out I passed 90(!!) people in the last 6 miles! WHOA!

One aspect of my ego I need to work on is when I would pass some of the men on the course; sometimes men get very competitive with me when I pass them, and start racing me.

This drives me CRAZY, and I usually fall into the trap of racing them back. The few times this happened in the race were followed by the few moments of panic where I did have to back off for a few minutes; a warning sign that I had changed speed a little too quick.

In the future I do need to watch my ego, and keep the rhythm the same, even if a man does take off when he realizes I am a woman.

Grit

As I mentioned, this is the one that bothers me a little. I don’t feel like I gave my all. I know this was necessary, and pushing harder was not worth the risk, but it still bothers me a little. However, Steve and my family are probably going to kill me if I keep harping on about this, so I am going to move on. I explained it a little more in my race recap.

As time passes, I am seeing more and more that I made the right choice, and I am proud of my finish…..I promise I am not being an ungrateful brat 😉

I think that is about all. We have solidified a lot of the question marks as to what works best for me, and I think we will carry a lot of the practice forward to the next marathon segment.

However, that does not mean it will work every time.

Running is about consistency, and giving yourself the best chance of being successful by controlling what you can, but at the end of the day, a marathon has too many variables that can affect your outcome, so I am just thankful it worked as well as it did this year.

Many of you are asking what’s next……I will explain it next week….Steve would cut me off every time I tried to discuss it with him before the race, so we need to figure out where we are going now…..but I will tell you one thing, it will not be a marathon 🙂

[Tweet “Great recap from elite runner @tinamuir on what to look at when reflecting on your big race”]

What variables do you try to control when it comes to racing? What lesson did you learn in your last race?

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19 Comments. Leave new

  • Michele Rosen
    May 13, 2015 5:44 am

    What an amazing race all around 🙂 I would’ve freaked more than a little about the bathroom thing too, but it really does make sense with all the carb loading. Running with a smile the whole way through is like a dream!

  • I love the perspective you have gained in the few weeks since you raced. I’ve been thinking a lot about what went right and wrong with mine as well. I also totally get the men racing you at the end! This happens to me too and it’s so absolutely ridiculous. Talk about egos!!! This was really great and I especially love the quote. That is resinating with me right now…

  • carla birnberg
    May 13, 2015 5:54 am

    I love how you brought us along with you. And especially enjoy and found such insight in your GRIT portion. I wanna disagree—but I shall meet you where you are. xo

  • awesome job! i also hate when men try to race me when i pass them. way to stay strong!

  • So just bring that boot camp up here and we’re all set! ; )

    I love how so much went right with this race for you. It really came together beautifully and that’s due to all your hard work and dedication. This is a race you will carry with you forever. Very happy for you, my friend!

  • I definitely think that you conquered your biggest road block in this race–yourself. I think you have just gotten in your own way in the past. But now, look at the possibilities!

  • Oh man, I hate when I can’t go to the bathroom before a race! So glad you felt good during and after!! I love how you’re open to constructive criticism and growth:D Keep it up!!

  • So cool for the Lexington runners! It’s amazing how all of these factors work together- I think attitiude is huge!!

  • When I try to up the white carbs before a race I have the same prob as I am used to so much fiber. Interesting dilemma! Love your smile at the end!

  • This perspective and reflection on what happened (good, bad) are great! I love how much you enjoyed the race – good and bad parts – and I am excited to see where you will be heading next. As for the men competing with you, let them go and be flattered. If you can find a way to laugh at the lengths men will go with competition, it is even better! Yes – having 3 brothers, who can beat me at just about anything, does give me a bit of perspective. I am not sure if that helps, but I think it is great that you recognize the need not to meet the challenge they are throwing at you.

  • Julie Wunder
    May 13, 2015 8:38 am

    You had such a good mindset with this race. I can’t wait to see what you do next!
    I wish I could come to your bootcamp. It sounds like fun!

  • Lisa@runningoutofwine
    May 13, 2015 8:56 am

    I wish I was in Lexington and could attend your boot camp! It sounds so beneficial! I love your race reflections…such a realistic and honest perspective. Can’t wait to hear about what’s next!:)

  • To say a great race performance is down to luck is just insulting. It disregards all the hard work and effort that went into the preparation for the day and the race itself. You absolutely 100% smashed that race on your talent, ability and training. There was no luck involved! You are not lucky, but amazingly talented.
    That comment about overtaking men made me smile (wryly). I’m not an elite or anywhere near but I have overtaken a few men in my time and some have such a hard time with it, don’t they? Men and their egos, eh!

  • Okay, I used to think you were superwoman but now I *KNOW* you are, having run a marathon that fast without going #2 beforehand!!! WOW. I have to do my business AND take two Immodium just to keep from pooping my pants!! You can always count on me for TMI. 😉

  • Martina Di Marco
    May 13, 2015 11:27 am

    Interesting point about white carbs. I tend to cut out fibers two days prior in order to avoid disaster on race day, but I probably shouldn’t go that overboard in order to avoid other types of disasters 😉 Also, I’ll admit that this time around I paid more attention to complex carbs consumption, based on what you wrote after the Philly marathon.

    “A marathon has too many variables that can affect your outcome.” So true. The marathon is such a tough beast. You might have had the best training cycle of your life, but so many things can affect your race… 26.2 miles is a long way to go! Scary.

    Can’t wait to hear what’s next for you!!!

  • Congratulations again Tina- it was fun reading your recap and it’s always fun reading your posts. You’re not a brat and you’re totally down to earth (everything you write feels like it’s coming from a friend not an elite runner). I understand the bathroom issues well and it is a good point about carbs… it makes me feel human to know that even elites have to watch certain foods and experience the same kind of human issues we all do. You did a great job and obviously worked VERY hard for this race so you deserve to celebrate and be proud.

    I also find that passing and getting passed is a huge mental thing for men and women. Typically if a man gets passed, he turns it into a competition, it’s on! With women, it’s more of an emotional game sometimes. I think we overthink or runs a bit!

    So, I’m totally jealous of everyone who can go to your runner’s boot camp because I would love something like that and think it would benefit me a lot!

  • I am still so very proud of you for having such an awesome race and experience! I love how you are able to break things down like this – I really think that all of your careful planning, training and talking to yourself about not feeling the pressure combined to have you achieve what you wanted, as well as pass those 90 people! My body is super used to the fiber too so I get nervous when I lightened up on it before a race 🙂

  • Uggh, I wish I was in the area, I would LOVE to attend that bootcamp! Great post and I agree, attitude can sometimes be everything! I’m surprised to hear how much you ate the morning of race day. I wonder if that is one of my issues. I usually have an english muffin with almond butter about 1-2 hours before and that’s it! Sounds like I should be eating more!!

  • Karla Bruning
    May 14, 2015 4:11 pm

    Tina, I’m so glad you had the race of your dreams!! All of your hard work (including physical and mental training) paid off and it shows! Congrats on your new PR and new found marathon love. I love that you’re smiling in your photos and achieved your “no pressure” goal! Enjoy it.

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