It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog. I’ve missed it. Decided writing my Grandma’s Marathon 2023 Race Plan was the perfect excuse for a blog post! I’ve been training for 15 weeks to be ready to run my second ever marathon.
After all, I did spend 15 focused weeks training for this race with the awesome run organization, Run Minnesota. Every single week for 15 weeks, I ran four times, did a marathon strength set twice a week, walked at least 10,000 steps on non-running days (thanks to my dog Sam who loves walking).
New housing thrown in
Thrown in for good measure, I also found and moved my housing. I’ve been in my new solo apartment for almost two weeks. Moving is one of the hardest things we humans do, and this move has been no exception. I’ve lived in a house for the past 21+ years and this is my first apartment. I love living alone, but I’ve accumulated too much stuff. Downsizing continues to happen.
I put in the run training time, now I want to make sure I spend the last week before the race preparing in an efficient, focused manner. No point in blowing things after all the good work I put in.
A week of focus
My Race Plan is for Sunday to Saturday morning, essentially it’s a week of focus. My goal being to map out how I’m going to navigate life to be best prepared for this important-to-me race.
Reviewing the Race Plan the days, hours and even minutes before the race begins, helps my brain keep track of what I am doing and need to continue to do as the race progresses.
Here is my Race Plan. I mention the component, and then outline what I’m going to do to make that component a reality at this marathon on June 17, 2023.
Component 1. Mindset
Meditation and Deep Breathing
All this week, I will meditate for at least 20 minutes right when I wake up each morning. This will help me keep my stress and anxiety in check. My goal is to relax and enjoy all the work that I’ve done to get me here.
Mantras for the race
These are the mantras I used last year at the Garry Bjorkland Half Marathon and I’ve used them in many races. They work for me!
- I am strong.
- Smile, I love running.
- Believe in this body. This body is strong. This body is capable.
- Feel the strength in this body. This is mine. I’ve done the work. Own it.
- Notice the trees. Notice the people. I belong.
If at different points I feel pain, I will move into the pain, giving it space. Accepting it. Every time I do that, with acceptance and kindness, the pain shifts and often goes away. In the moments of feeling the pain, I will breathe a little deeper and remind my body that it is strong and capable.
Component 2. Pre-race
I will be in bed by 9 pm every night this week. All electronics are off by 8:30pm and asleep by 9:30 pm. My goal is to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night, maybe even 9 hours.
This is a week of super clean eating. No gluten. Not one drop. No meat (this one isn’t difficult!) Minimum dairy. (I do eat some cheese, but I’m cutting way back this week.) Make sure I’m getting enough calories and not overeating. It’s all about balance.
As I do, I will cook on Sunday. I had excellent success with my nutrition last year, so I am going to eat the same things.
My recipes this week are Atakilt Wat: Ethiopian Cabbage Potato Carrots with added tofu, and a simple vegetable stir fry with tofu and rice. For breakfast, I will have my regular chia pudding, which is nutritious and delicious with fresh berries. Thrown in for fun and extra veggies, I will have a few salad jars. The theme for this week is no processed food and lots of veggies!
The weather in Duluth for race morning, June 17th, looks good. It could rain. That’s better than super hot. That said, I tend to suffer when it’s extra humid and hot. To be as ready as possible, I will make sure to drink enough water and electrolytes everyday this week. Nuun tablets and LMNT are my friends this week.
This week my work duties are a bit more mellow. I arranged my schedule so this would be the case. This year my job at the University of Minnesota has been a bit intense due to a new class my team and I have designed and expanded. I’ve worked hard to be in my new apartment and have my work schedule be more mellow this week. I’m taking both Thursday and Friday off. Thursday so I can focus on packing and mental prep. Friday so we can drive up to Duluth.
My main marathon training partner Jenny Thompson and I have been going to the gym to do a strength session twice a week. We plan to do a shortened session on Monday. I will do a bit of core work and some stretching. I will run 4 miles on Tuesday, another short run on Wednesday, and 2 miles on Friday morning before heading to Duluth. It’s going to be a week of tapering. Not always easy to do!
Getting my body 100% in race mode is my goal. On Wednesday, I will see my massage therapist. Sarah gets my feet, my calves, my glutes and my quads ready for the race. I will use my massage gun and I will stretch carefully every day.
I made sure I had on a fresh continuous glucose monitor that is securely attached with a Type One Style sticker. Additionally, I put on a new insulin pump set on Thursday mid-day. That way at 7:45 am when I start the race on Saturday, I will have a good set working with plenty of insulin. To make 100% sure that I have my diabetes bases covered, on Friday I will put on an additional set, in case the one that’s attached to the pump accidentally pulls or sweats off, I have a backup set ready to go.
Also related to diabetes, I will do my very best to keep my “time-in-range” at 80-85% for the whole week. That means keeping my blood sugar between 70 mg/dl and 180 mg/dl. With the goal of not having ANY low blood sugars on Thursday or Friday before the Saturday race. That way my liver and my muscles will be glycogen topped off.
Thursday before the race
I’m not working this day. This will give me time to lay out all my clothes, pack my suitcase, do final prep of food, charge all my devices – such as: phone, pump, ear pods, any anything else that might need charging. Additionally, I will take Sam, my dog, to the person who will take care of him while I am in Duluth. I will use a lot of time on Thursday to relax and visualize.
Day before the race
I will get up at 5am to meditate. Then eat my chia pudding breakfast. I will head out for a quick, easy, slow 2 mile run. Then a quick shower and put my already packed suitcase and cooler with food for the day in the car. By 8:45am I will head to Nadine’s house where Nadine, Tanya and I will ride up to Duluth in Jenny’s hybrid car. We are all working to minimize our collective carbon footprint. We will meet up with Christy in Duluth.
We will head immediately to the Race Expo and survey the area. Both Nadine and I will have our lunch and dinner items with us for the day before the race. After all, eating out means unknown preparation and ingredients. My goal is to keep my blood sugar above 90 mg/dl all day. And of course below 180 mg/dl. That requires that I know exactly what I’m putting in my body.
Lastly, I will get my Drop Bag ready for after the race and then of course, to bed early!
My race number is 6087. You can track my progress on the free Grandma’s Marathon App that is powered by ASICS. You can find the app on your iOS or Android device.
Component 3 – Gear
You may have noticed if you’ve been following me that I am a bit obsessed with lists. Nothing like a good list to feel a sense of control and readiness.
Here’s my run gear list for this marathon. Remember, Duluth weather can be very unpredictable. Very cold to very hot. It could pour rain. Gotta be ready with all the options.
- Ear warmer
- Poncho – could rain
- Body glide
- Run gloves
- Visor and hat
- Compression Socks
- Run shoes
- Run bra & run underwear
- Waist belt for my race number
- Shorts – black Osiell
- Tank – Run Minnesota blue
- T-shirt – long sleeve from Women Run The Cities
- Pink jacket
- Neck gaiter – one I’m okay discarding as I run
- Flipbelt waist band
- Nutrition: UCAN, gels, Skratch Labs chews, smarties
- Water bottle, the side one to wear
- Nuun tabs
- Bug spray – to put on before
- Sunscreen – to put on before
- Clothes for after in bag: socks, hat, ear warmers, another shirt, another pair of shorts, leggings, wipes, face mask, snacks, another pump set, snacks
- Warm items I can wear early and then toss aside before starting: sweatshirt, neck gaiter, sweat pants.
- I like to have a clear diabetes list too. As I mentioned above. I will put on a fresh pump set on Thursday, two days before the race.
- I will put on an extra pump set on Friday so that in the event my primary set falls off because I pull it off accidentally or it sweats off.
- The Dexcom G6 I wear lasts for 10 days. I put on a new cgm on Thursday, so race day will be day 3 of a 10 day set.
Component 4. Day of the race
The marathon race starts at 7:45 am. All runners MUST take the bus or the train to the race start. Jenny and I will take Jenny’s car to the DECC which is where we can park at the finish line. Our goal is to leave our UMD apartment by 4:45am. That means I will wake up at 4:20am, do a short meditation. I will have all my clothes and food laid out ready to put on quickly and grab to leave.
Before we leave the apartment, I will boil water to make my chia pudding that I will carry with me and eat on the train, once we board. I will have a plastic spoon and the chia pudding is in a small plastic recyclable hard plastic ice cream container.
As we board the train, we hand off our After Bags. Any warm clothing we have on we can drop at the race start. Goodwill will pick up all that we drop.
My goals for this race are as follows:
- Run slower the first 2 – 3 miles
- Set my GymBoss HIIT timer to 50 seconds (run) and 20 seconds (walk)
- Finish the race in 5 hours 30 – 40 minutes, that’s an average pace of 12:30
- Smile and have fun
- Feel relaxed, calm and joyful
- Notice how beautiful the race route is
I’m going to start the race with the 5:30 pacer. Essentially, I am going to listen to my body the ENTIRE race. The pacing will work itself out.
- I will eat my chia pudding breakfast on the train to the start of the race. I will take no insulin for this 450 calorie/30 grams of carbohydrate meal. This will be about 1 hour before the race starts. I’ve practiced this eating strategy and it works for me.
- At 7:15am, 30 minutes before the race starts, I will eat a UCAN .
- Carried with me I will have 4 gel packets, 3-4 Skratch Labs energy chew packets, 1 UCAN packet, and at least 8 rolls of Smarties. These will be in my FlipBelt Adjustable Run Belt.
- My plan is to track my blood sugar as I run. At mile 12, I will eat the second UCAN.
- I will eat a gel/Skratch Labs chew at mile 3, mile 9, mile 12-13, mile 17, mile 22 and mile 24.
- In case of low blood sugars, I will eat a 6 gram carbohydrate Smarties.
- I will study my cgm tracing from the day and night before, and I will study how much insulin my pump gave me through the night as I slept. In prep for breakfast, I will take this into consideration.
- Before going to sleep, I will switch my basal profile from MAIN to LONG. I have my basal rates set for long runs.
- When I wake up at 4:20 am, I will turn off Control-IQ on my Tandem t:slim pump. By doing this, I will get enough basal insulin to cover the carbohydrates I am eating as I run.
- The race starts at 7:45am.
- I will have my 10 ounce FlipBelt curved water bottle that fits easily in the side pocket of my running shorts. I will drink a glass of water with a Nuun tablet (for electrolytes) right when I wake up at 4:20am.
- I will drink the full 10 ounces of water while I’m riding the train. I will refill the bottle before we start the run. I will use the portapotty at least once.
- As I’m running, I know that there will be official water stations at miles 3,5,7,9,11,13,15,17,19,20,21,22,23,24 and 25. As my water bottle gets empty, I will refill at the water stations. I have a rhythm of drinking water at least every mile. In my FlipBelt, I will carry a few SaltStick Electrolyte FastChew tabs in case of heat and humidity.
Component 5: Post-race
After the race, I will find Nadine, Christy, Tanya L, Katie and other Run Minnesota friends, and celebrate my accomplishment and hear about the accomplishments of all my runner friends. I will find my After Bag and make sure I’m warm and fully covered in sunscreen.
I will need to keep close track of my blood sugar. I tend to spike after a strong athletic effort. We will find a delicious lunch and then later we will meet up for dinner with the Run Minnesota group.
Once we get back to our UMD apartment that shower will feel fabulous! As will getting into bed for a delicious sleep.
And finally, for the whole week after the marathon, I plan to celebrate in big and small ways!! Tell me some celebration ideas you have for me!!! I need some good ideas. A glass of wine is likely in my near future, since I only drink a glass of wine four times a year!!
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