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What to eat during a Marathon for a Strong Finish

Avoiding the “bonk” during your marathon

To set the scene, we’ve just run 23.1 out of 26.2 miles in the beautiful Avenue of the giants, redwoods of California, Marathon. We’ve trained for this day, and now our performance will reflect all our hard work. All that was left was 3.1 miles to finish. A 5K, (Which in marathon training) I was confident I could complete in my sleep.

Throughout the course we’ve stopped at each aid station for a quick sip of water and even sampled an energy gummy pack at the aid station. Energy gummy’s that other ‘more experienced runners’ had raved about. But our fueling for this marathon was ill-prepared. We did not pack any water, electrolytes or energy supplements for the run. I “hit a wall” at mile marker twenty-three and had to walk the last three miles of my race. I did not yet know what to eat during a marathon for peak performance.

Although I was extremely grateful to finish the race, I was disappointed in my performance. I had not anticipated that on average,

Runner’s burn through about 100 calories per mile.

That’s about 2,600 calories consumed in a marathon, and greater than the average daily recommended caloric intake! Although I thought we had prepared appropriately (with a carb loaded spaghetti and garlic bread dinner the night before) we needed much more fuel to sustain energy before, during and after our marathon for a strong finish.

What to eat before marathon (1-2 hours before run)

Half and Full marathons generally start at sunrise to beat the mid-morning heat. With an anticipated 7 am start time, you should be waking no later than 5 am to begin your fueling. Anticipate 1-2 hours before your run starts and focus on simple carbohydrates.

Carbs are the easiest source of energy for the body to convert to glucose

Glucose is needed to fuel your brain and muscles. Along with carbohydrates, add in a source of caffeine. Limit your intake of caffeine to what your body is used to before race day; but having caffeine enhances your mental focus for the race ahead.

Most importantly before the race, focus on hydration! Say it with me now: most importantly, before your run focus on hydration! Maintaining hydration is imperative for performance, as it helps regulate our temperature, and enable our bodies to endure our peak performance.

what to eat during marathon

Pre-Fuel Guidelines

  • Carbohydrates: Focus on simple carbs, low fiber
  • Protein and Fat: small amounts of protein for stability- main source of energy will be drawn from carbs
  • Caffeine- enhance mental focus and preparedness
  • HYDRATION: urine should be pale yellow

Hydration, Hydration, Hydration!

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What to eat during your Race

After completing our first full Marathon, my entire focus was on how I failed at the end of the race. I wistfully hobbled across the finish line at a mere five hour finish time. How did that finish time become so slow? We had trained for this. Our longest training run was 20 miles long, so it must have been the last three miles that ruined my goal time. Nearly a decade later I can assure you, I didn’t lose my goal time in the last three miles of my race.

I lost my race within the first 15 minutes it began

Hydration starts early. Within the first 15 minutes of your run you should be taking 2-3 gulps of fluids, and continue hydration every 15 minutes. Along with fluids, bring at least 30 grams of carbohydrates per hour of endurance activity. Consuming those energy gummies in my marathon was game-changing, but put into perspective, I should have brought at least five packets to sufficiently sustain me. Continue to adjust your hydration and carbohydrates based on your environment- (is it a hot day? are you running at altitude?)

During your Run

  • Sustain energy levels. Avoid the “BONK”!
  • Aim for at least 30g of carbohydrates per hour for endurance
  • Hydration starts EARLY! Within the first 15 minutes of a run you should be taking 2-3 gulps of fluids.
what to eat during marathon

What to eat in Recovery

Immediately after the marathon my body appropriately scarfed down a ton of food. Giving in to all of my cravings, I proudly consumed a sushi roll, a chocolate milkshake, chicken fajitas and a cheeseburger all while lying in bed! The key to recovery nutrition is to replenish all the nutrients and electrolytes you have lost during your endurance activity. Aim for at least 20-30 grams of protein for muscle repair.

what to eat during marathon

Recovery Run fuel (15-60 mins after)

  • Replenish the Nutrients and electrolytes you’ve lost
  • Protein: Eat at least 20-30g of protein for muscle tissue repair and protein synthesis
  • REST

we run the states

The Great Ferry Race Seattle

From the iconic Pike Place Market to the Space needle tower; from the Great Ferry Race to Bainsbridge island and Ballard lock salmon runs; Seattle is absolutely unforgettable!

The Run

The Great Ferry Race in Seattle, Washington is an unforgettable course! The best part is, I got some video footage throughout the entire run so you can see the terrain change! You board a ferry in the chill of the morning, despite being middle of June; so pack some warm clothes for the ride over, in which you have plenty of time for a warm cup of hot cocoa riding over to Bainbridge Island. The start of the race sounds and a wave of runners exit the ferry onto the course. This race is a blend of road and trails entering the Grand Forest and Battle Point Park.

The Great Ferry race hyper speed

As stunning and unique as this Ferry run is, be forewarned. There are HILLS! I was spending much of my time finicking with my GoPro in order to get great documentation of the course, so I didn’t realize how SLOW I was running, whoops! I wouldn’t attempt a PR on this course, unless you’re one of those savage hill runners, but the experience alone could not be traded. (Notice the mindfully placed “2 Legit 2 Quit” encouragement sign, as many of us walked up this steep hill). Orca running company also has an epic medal with a ferry that actually slides from Seattle to Bainbridge Island!

Running brings many obstacles and personal accomplishments, but I’m repetitively impressed with the ease of making a new friend along the course. After 13.1 miles of running beside somebody you’ve never met, it’s pretty easy to just say, “Hi”. 🙂 Along this course I met a new great friend who met her personal accomplishment of running a half marathon each month this year! (So impressive!) Now to the Yummy part.

The Food and Drinks

I’m a novice at eating Seafood. I enjoy your traditional basic cooked shrimp, but I’ll happily admit, my palate has slowly been expanding through the years. I have NEVER been brave enough to order Cioppino. Enter, the Pink Door restaurant. My husband ordered this dish filled with prawns, rock fish, mussels, clams and calamari in a spicy tomato and white wine broth and I nearly devoured his entire meal! I’ve tried multiple copycat recipes at home of this Cioppino since then, (and although delicious) this restaurant takes the cake. If you’re in Seattle, go to the Pink door.

Ray’s Boathouse dining was a special treat shared with family members we hadn’t seen in years. We were graciously toured around Seattle by my husband’s cousin (who sells real estate, thus knowing the history and BEST places to visit in Seattle); and his ‘special treat’ was Ray’s. And It was just that. A special treat including incredible food, a mean Bloody Mary and you really can’t get any better than waterfront.

Things To Do

Pike Place Market

This next one should be in a category all by itself. I truly wasn’t sure whether to put the infamous Pike Place Market under ‘food’ or ‘things to do’- because it is ALL the above! My husband has been anticipating going to Pike Place Market for over a decade, and it did not disappoint! Let’s go through a day dream together.

You live in a cute downtown home in Seattle. The fog is still hovering over the bay and you take a short walk to the Pike Place market for that morning’s fresh catch off the Pacific Ocean and a strong brew of coffee. There’s actually a mix of fresh and salt water catches to choose from thanks to the ballardlocks. You stroll through the farmers market and pick up some cheese churned in front of you, and of course a bouquet of flowers to brighten your home. You realize you’ve taken up most of the morning tasting local honey, jams, lemonade, nuts and olive oil tastings and it’s now midday. So you stop at the local pub and order a flight of handcrafted brews of character at the Pike Brewing company.

Ok, now wake up. Just kidding, you don’t have to. That scenario is LEGIT what the Pike Place Market has to offer. Go there.

Ballardlocks

The Ballardlocks were a surprise treat for me, I had never known of their historical significance. The locks serve several purposes to maintain the water level of FRESH water from Lake Washington and Lake Union, to prevent mixing of SEA water from Puget Sound and course to move boats between the two. Our very personal, previously mentioned cousin realtor, opened our eyes to this intellectual way of “changing the tides” so to speak. I couldn’t help but accompany this video by sitting on the dock of the bay, watching the tides roll away. Watching history is inexplicable, go see it.

If you’ve ever seen Grey’s Anatomy, you’ve seen the Seattle space needle. I’m a Nurse Practitioner, bred through the era of medical drama. Unbeknown to me, I was influenced by this picturesque image of Seattle. It signified accomplishment that I didn’t even recognize I was achieving- both in my career and by completing another Half Marathon. Retrospectively, Seattle meant a lot more to me than I realized.

Seattle Space Needle

The Seattle Space needle’s top house sits 520′ above ground and let me tell you, it’s a bit nerve racking! I have no fear of heights, but this testest me just the slightest. Go ahead, lay down on the GLASS rotating sphere. I dare you. Long behold, they serve a few mixology cocktails and brews so your nerves may be calmed.

Little Red Day Spa

I will recommend time and time again, schedule a stretch or massage after your run! It is worth every penny. You’ve already completed weeks of training and Thirteen. point. one. freaking. miles! If you’re like me, you’re sore; knees in particular. I remember there was a physical therapy tent after our Tucson Arizona race offering free stretches; and that intensive stretching made all the difference in the world with muscle soreness the next day. This Seattle local, Little Red Day Spa combined both a stretch massage and romantic getaway that you should not miss.

where to stay

Motif Seattle- a Hyatt Hotel

What do you look for in lodging when booking a half marathon? Me? I look for a safe location closest to my running event. Preferably a hotel that has transport to and from the race. I look for notably clean and welcoming. Motif met almost every single one of my requirements, only excluding transport to the race. (Nobody likes to walk far after running a half marathon haha). I hobbled around after the half but our hotel was so centrally located that despite my short lived bicker and fuss, I was overly impressed with their hotel.

Seattle overview: 1) Washington is SO green, The Pacific Northwest’s beauty is. remarkable. 2) WOW: the things to eat and see- Pike place market, ballardlocks, 3) I am not sponsored by any of these places mentioned, I just enjoy sharing experiences so that you can enjoy yours!

Follow along as We Run the States!

Napa Valley Run: The wine, the run, and more wine!

I had you at wine, didn’t I? That’s usually what catches my attention! And it sure did when my new running friend mentioned she was signed up for the Napa Valley Run. Mercedes was traveling all the way from Texas, so I figured I could make the short three hour drive to Napa. Since the race was only a few short weeks a way, the half marathon was unfortunately sold out; but I WAS able to snag a spot in the Rose 5K!

Napa Valley Run

California boosts for it’s clement weather, thus making it a great place to run most parts of the year. Check out Avenue of the Giants California run also for perfect weather. This run did not disappoint. The event was held in mid-summer and the weather had a slight chill in the morning. But it turned out to be a beautiful day. The Rose 5K was scenic (as I expected from a Napa Valley Run!) and went by very quickly. Sebastiani winery hosted a rest stop close to mile 1 that poured hearty ‘tastings’ of sauvinon blanc that was surprisingly refreshing during the run.

Although we could have continued mingling for hours, we proceeded with the easy run. We were definitely excited to get to the next part of the day, the wine!

Destination Races, Napa Valley run sells out quickly each year, so plan ahead and book early!

The Wine

I never realized how close I live to Napa Valley! For as much as I enjoy wine, I hadn’t been to Napa in 8 years! (insert shamed face here) We visited Artesa for a tasting and the views were stunning! Although Napa valley was hosting a half marathon weekend, we were the only ones silly enough to wear our running clothes wine tasting. Attire is business casual-formal amongst most of the valley; so dress accordingly. There was even a bachelorette party in very formal prom dresses.

There are countless INCREDIBLE options of wine tasting in this region, all of which can be explored here: https://www.visitnapavalley.com/wineries/winery-map/.

When you make the trip to California to visit wine country, I HIGHLY ENCOURAGE a few extras stops. Take an extra few days to travel north to Lake County and stop by Gregory Graham wineries. Or head East 2 hours to Shenandoah valley. The wine is less expensive in these areas, but still produces the highest quality that the California sun has to nurture.

I fully anticipate more of my Destination runs to include wine tasting, and I can’t wait to share them with you here!

5 Unique gifts every Runner NEEDS!

I asked my 5 year old for her perspective this morning, “Sadie, what does mommy need to go on a run?” She replied, “Don’t forget to breathe mom, that’s all you need”. Did I mention I LOVE her?! I love the simplicity of a child’s mind, in her eyes all I need to remember to bring is my breath. 🙂 However, over the past seven years I’ve picked up a few items that have completely changed my running experience and now I never leave the house without them! Here are the 5 Unique things every Runner NEEDS:

1. Pepper Spray

No joke. If there’s any one thing I could use this running blog to promote, it’s safety! Truth be told, while running I’m just about as ignorant as they come when it comes to observing my surroundings. I definitely notice how tall the pine trees are around me, and how nice the wind feels blowing in my face as I enjoy my run at my pace…. but did I notice that bear track on my nature trail? or worse, that article in the news this morning of a woman gone missing on her morning jog? My husband has given me a whole new appreciation of safety, and along with increased observations, I sincerely hope you will bring pepper spray with you to protect yourself in any situation!

2. Smartphone photo lens

If you’re going to be running a lot of miles, you’re going to cover a lot of ground! That’s the blissful part of going on a run, to see the beauty in the world all around us! OK, maybe that was a bit too much, but not far from the truth. I always run with my phone (just in case of an emergency) so to have this protective case on allows me to capture some great photos as I run around the States. There are several case options, but this one includes a fisheye lens, wide eye angle lens, macro lens and CPL carbon fiber. Here are a few photos I’ve taken along the way using my Ztylus Revolver lens.

Monterey, CA
Hakone, Japan

3. Flip belt or Fanny Pack

Ok, so now I have you carrying your smartphone with a photo lens case, pepper spray, and of course your car key. I don’t know about you, but I like to be hands free on a run so I travel with either a Flip Belt, for my shorter runs or my Nike Fanny pack on a longer one so I can carry water. Both of them are lightweight and yes, Fanny Packs are perfectly acceptable in the running community, even if we’re not living in the 1980’s.

4. Bose headphones

Have you ever wondered what it would sound like if your run had a soundtrack? Meaning you watch a 3 minute time lapse video of you running a half marathon from an outside view but feel completely immersed in your environment. Of course I always imagine my run would have a really cool song like Midnight City from M83, but if you’re looking for a headphone to distract you from the aches and pains along your run- you have got to try Bose. These headphones were probably my biggest running investment, but I love every single run with them.

5. Hands Free dog leash

As soon as I put on my running shoes, my Golden Retriever Tucker knows what’s up. And as much as I love to let him run free, most places require your dog to be leashed at ALL times! (especially in California). This hands free dog leash has been a lifesaver because I hate, hate, hate holding onto a leash that’s being pulled on, but love, love, love having Tucker help speed up my pace from my waist, haha! This wonderful leash was the best solution for Tucker to run his very first half marathon with me last year 🙂

There you have it, 5 unique things every runner needs that I’ll bet you didn’t even consider before today. It doesn’t matter the distance, or how much time it takes you, but I encourage you to go outdoors and get moving! ….Go on. 🙂

These items are essentials for all of my runs, and I’m so excited to share them with you! But for complete transparency, As an Amazon Associate I may earn from qualifying purchases, now go out and enjoy!

Running Through the Neon lights of Las Vegas Half marathon

‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!’ Except when it comes to sharing all the deets on running a half marathon along the strip at night! Rock n’ Roll series is the only race that shuts down Las Vegas boulevard to put on a spectacular run to experience all the lights and magic that Sin city holds. 

 I made SOOOO many mistakes on this run, so I feel this Nevada run is my most informative blog. I hope that you can successfully complete your run and enjoy the night life after!

The Run- Rock n’ Roll Las Vegas

This race takes place in mid-November each year and hosts more than 40,000 runners! As naive as I am, I assumed that since the run was in the Nevada desert, it would therefore be HOT! So I came to the race in a cute tank top and little booty shorts. Well, long behold, it is (more often than I realized) cold in Las Vegas, and in November 2014 I stood outside in tiny little runner clothes while the clouds spit out snow (mistake #1). Luckily I found a long sleeve shirt.

Advice #1- ALWAYS CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST BEFORE YOUR RUN! Duh, right?

Rock n’ Roll half marathon series holds true to it’s name and puts on quite a pre-run entertainment show! This year Macklemore and Ryan Lewis at the start line on Las Vegas Blvd between Harmon and Park avenue. However, before we get to the main event, you have to actually GET to the venue (mistake #2). We stayed at Caesar’s Palace (as it was closest to the finish line) which is a 1.1 mile walk to the start. I learned after the fact that there is a monorail that can get you closer to the venue. However we heard this was also quite packed full of runners, so plan ahead.

We had also planned on eating a big, carb-loaded lunch at the venue once we got there, so we passed many opportunities to eat along the way (mistake #3). Well there is NO food at the venue. so we started our half marathon at 5 pm with only eating half a bagel for the entire day!

Advice #2 ALWAYS PLAN YOUR MEALS AHEAD AND PRACTICE RUNNING THE TIME YOUR EVENT WILL BE HELD

Again, duh, right?! But I had never practiced running a long run at night, despite signing up for “run the strip at night”! It never occurred to me that running 13.1 miles at 5pm would be any different than running 13.1 miles at 7am (mistake #4). Well it is a LOT different depending on the time of day, so train your body accordingly.

This brings us to the start of the race, the corrals. This was my least favorite part of this grand event. Hosting 40,000 people, I’ll admit the rock n roll series does a fantastic job organizing that many runners; but that will never take away the fact you honestly feel like cattle. It took 35 minutes shuffling along, just to START the race!! The only benefit of these corrals was the warmth that they provided in the surrounding freezing weather. To be completely honest, I was already physically and mentally drained before I even started the run.

The run itself was quite incredible; it truly is amazing to run the infamous Las Vegas strip with all the lights, with you being the main attraction.

But remember the strip is only a couple miles long, the rest of the run is through residential (slightly sketchy) neighborhoods. There were many times during this long run that I was ready to quit and call a taxi back to the hotel, but I was forced to finish due to the fact that no street traffic was allowed so I couldn’t get a car and Jenn would not let me quit.

It finally came time to cross the finish line. I was overwhelmed with feeling proud that I actually accomplished this run (5 months postpartum and still breastfeeding I may add), and joy that it was FINALLY over! My legs seriously ached and all I wanted to do was to sit down, yet as we crossed the finish line there was no exit for another half mile!! (1.1 + 13.1 + .5= at least a million miles that day). We were again corralled to where we could finally exit and I nearly wanted to cry as we limped back to our hotel and crawled into bed. Needless to say, we ordered room service dinner and did not get to experience the night life of Vegas. Our husband’s joked that next morning, that was the most sober they had ever left the Las Vegas airport!

Advise #3 DON’T MAKE PLANS AFTER YOUR RUN

Being that this was my husband and my first trip away from our 5 month old daughter, we had planned a fun ‘grown up only’ dinner, dancing and gambling in fabulous Las Vegas. Well I was quite disappointed when I couldn’t fathom getting out of the warm bed and went straight to sleep at 8.

The Lodging, Nightlife and Food

I.e. The REAL reason we came to Vegas!! Although I did not get to experience many of these on this trip, I have a few recommendations that are definitely worth mentioning.

Lodging: Stay on the strip! There are many off the main strip, discounted hotels that are worth the savings with a quick taxi away, however I recommend actually staying on the strip- it’s worth the experience.

Nightlife: The Foundation room on top of the Mandalay Bay. A cocktail, dancing and spectacular views! This lounge was nothing short of incredible.

Food: There are SOOO many great restaurants in Las Vegas, which I will share on my next adventure. But if you make the trip, there’s one stop you cannot miss. M&M world! FYI: Running a half marathon burns at least 337 M&M’s 🙂

Overall Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon, Las Vegas is a once in a lifetime experience! And by once, I truly mean that will be the one and only time I will participate in a race that large! But hopefully you’ve learned from my mistakes and enjoy running the strip at night!

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