Well I knew I would learn from this experience and I did. What did I learn?
1. Taking gels while running 5:40 pace after a nice half marathon might not be tolerated by my body. Solution: no more gels during marathons. I've been using gels for years. I like how they taste, the consistentency, and the whole concept of them, but running 5:40 pace when I tried to take one after 13 miles my body said no. The Africans, Asians, and even Europeans never whine about gels and I am as efficient as anyone, so I'm not going to take them at least until I bonk in a marathon.
2. Run a race with spectators. Running through a tunnel of people gets me excited and I was lonely out there the last half with so few spectators.
3. Run a race with more people around. I was alone the last 10 miles of the race. It was just me against myself knowing there were a few people ahead of me and more behind, but no one close.
4. More pasta less steak. I had two small fillet mignon and a huge sweet potato the night before. While I don't feel like I bonked, I think one steak, sweet potato and some pasta would be more appropriate.
5. Run a race with less wind. Now I understand that's hard to orchestrate, but winds of 27 mph at the start and 23 mph at the finish sure slowed me down.
6. Don't drink for the sake of drinking. Gatorade knotted up my stomach the first time I took it and my body was not terribly reciptive to water during the whole race. Now the temperature was a perfect 48 degrees so I did not need to drink as much as if the temperature was in the 60s.
7. I wore my new Saucony A4s which are light and have a very thin sole. I had some ankle/shin pain in my right foot around 23 but it did not hurt on impact and did not slow me down. On the other hand my right outside metatarsal has been in a huge amount of pain the last few days. I might have broken something. Also on my left foot the inside of my ankle has been in pain and is actually a little red and swollen. I have had the metatarsal pain before but the ankle is totally new. I am convinced it is because both my form detoriated over the last few miles and thin shoes mean my body was absorbing more force once my form detoriated. In other words, I can barely walk because of the shoes I wore, but they helped me run faster and did not hurt me during the race, so I picked a good pair of shoes to wear.
8. I jogged about two miles before the race and swung my legs like I do for every workout, and I felt it was a good warm up. I did not even attempt a cool down.
9. I slept about 4.5 hours the night before and 9.5 hours two nights before. While not ideal I felt it worked just fine.
10. Smile and relax. Those are my two basic techniques to put more energy into the ground and less into fighting myself. A marathon is a long way and it is tiring. Saving energy matters.
I feel a number of my weaknesses can be improved through training, but I will save that for another article.