85% of my performance was due to going out too fast. Both the mental aspect of not slowing down enough when I realized I went out too fast and the physical aspect that led me to the wall. I went out almost as fast as CIM, although Chicago is flat, not downhill, like CIM. Hands down that was the reason I hit the wall. 10 miles in 55:14? I was just not at the level to do that for a full marathon in October 2013. I have no business hitting 5:2X miles in a marathon this year. The oxygen and glycogen demands for me at that pace are just too great to sustain for more than two hours.
The other 15% I’m going to attribute to nutrition. About 5% from trying the strategy I tried of eating in the middle of the night and not having breakfast, plus a low protein meal the night before. Another 5% is due to my nutrition 24 hours+ from the marathon. Not eating in the 30 minutes after my Friday run hurt me. If I stored 50 calories less because of that mistake Friday night, that's almost another mile of hard but not post wall hard speed. The other 5% I’m going to attribute to being vegan. I realize this is a can of worms and I will likely be vilified by the vegans and vegetarians out there for blaming any negative aspects of my performance on a vegan diet, however, I’m amarathoner and low 32 10k and a miler, hear me out!
In the last 30 days I had the best marathon specific intensive workout (1k medium, 1k hard for 21k total) of my life, the best marathon specific extensive (20 miles in) workout of my life, and an open 8k PR of 26:30. Clearly it is possible to run really well as a vegan. However, compared to October 2011 my recovery was not as fast in September 2013 as it was then. Perhaps that is the difference between a 27 year old and 25 year old, but I don’t think those two years should make as big of a difference as it did. Plus, part of the reason I did such great workouts was that I was only trying to do a big workout once a week, Bill Squires and new Renato Canova style. However in October 2011 I did nearly as big of workouts, with a lot more quality during the week. I could do that quality during the week because I was recovering so fast. I feel that, at least for me, getting the macro and micro nutrients from meat products is the most efficient and bioavailable way to get the recovery food I need.
What will I do differently in the future?
- Well, I going to run a lower key marathon, and as soon as I can, so that I can negative split one of these things. I negative split my 2:47 this summer our of shape, but seriously, a 2:47? I could probably do that once a week if I really wanted to. (Barring my current bum leg.) That's the major change. To run a really good marathon, you have to feel great at half way. I don't just mean feel okay, you have to feel capable of sprinting a mile at 5k pace.
- I eat meat again. I think my diet will consist of steak once a week and fish once a week and cheese on meals. Other than that I will eat some chicken wings or hamburgers here and there but I would guess than two thirds of my meals will probably still be vegan, specifically most breakfasts and lunches.
- I will eat breakfast before marathons. Just a bagel and some coffee and orange juice, but a few hundred calories none the less.
- I will be absolutely on my nutrition leading up the race so that I carbo-load and get the protein I need in the days before the race. The difference of 100 or 200 calories is all that separates a good race, but running a couple 8:20s miles at the end of a marathon.