TCM Race Report

Finally! Life has been way too crazy lately :(

I'd like to be as thorough as possible with this race report -- more for my own records than for blog-reader pleasure (sorry!). As such, I think I'll break this into multiple posts, and may be editing as I remember more.

Where to start? I'll begin with the no-carb/carb diet. Per Jerry, I decided to try the 3 day no-carb, 3 day all-carb diet. I've tried the 3 day all-carb diet before, and felt like that made a big difference.

So, for M-Wed, I ate only salad, chix breast, egg whites, peanuts and celery w/ peanut butter. Yuck. By Tuesday, I felt sort of sick after my easy run. I wondered if it was because I had eaten a hot dog (no bun) and celery with PB for supper. Not anything I typically eat, and not remotely healthy, but I was in a hurry & didn't have anything else quick to eat. By Wed, though, on a healthier diet day, I felt TERRIBLE. It was a 3x1200 m at tempo pace (6:05-6:15) workout. I think I wrote a blog after that... I felt awful. My head was fuzzy, my breathing was heavy, and my legs felt like they had run a marathon.

I weighed myself often to make sure I didn't lose anything during this stage. Wednesday morning I weighed 106.4 (sorry for the details -- just trying to record everything so I can build on it next time!). I think I lost 1 lb. between Monday and Wednesday. Not quite at my goal racing weight, but pretty close (I began training at 112-114 lbs because I had taken so much time off. It took FOREVER to get below 109-110).

Day Thur-Sat: All carbs. LOVED this stage. I looked forward to the next time I could eat a bagel with either jam or cinnamon and sugar or fruit or oatmeal. I didn't miss the protein or fat at all. I weighed myself on Thursday: gained 1 lb. back. I weighed myself Fri: Another 1 pound gain. After that, I didn't touch the scale. I didn't want to freak out, thinking that I had gained too much or was too heavy for a fast time. Gaining 2 pounds during this stage is PERFECT. It shows you how much your body is packing in the glycogen & storing water along with it. Pretty amazing, actually.

I took Friday off from running, and Saturday ran for just a mile. My plan called for more Saturday, but I don't think I'd change this.

Now, on to race morning. Ate a packet of oatmeal and a bagel with Jam, along with a bit of water. Off to the start! Nate drops me off at a Church near the start, which is the staging area for the Elites. Talk about intimidating. I stretched alongside the men's eventual winner... made me feel pretty big and out of shape, not going to lie! He was so lean & sinewy, you knew he was a FAST marathoner.

At 7:30, 30 minutes before the start, I went out for my first 5 minute warm up. I started out nice and slow, and worked up to about 7:30 mile pace. Perfect. Then ran back in, tried the bathroom one more time, and started to pack up my stuff. Ideally, my 2nd 5 minute warm up is with 10 minutes to race time. Problem was, they led the elites out to a parking lot with 15 minutes to go. I stripped down (no last minute clothing drops, boo), took my caffeinated gel, and nervously thought to myself, it's ok not to do the second warm up. Instead, I ran a little bit back and forth in the parking lot. I think this was a mistake on my part: I should have found a way to a road to do the 2nd warm up. I just didn't know where to go & was scared I was going to miss them herding us into the start of the race (which actually could have happened).

Perfect weather at the start. I started with gloves, a singlet, and compression knee-length shorts. The gun went off at 8. I rely on my watch heavily during this first mile. It feels so easy, at any pace! My watch said 6:30 for a while, and then jumped down to 6:15. Hmm, that's quick... better hold it here. I remember talking to one guy whose goal was 3:00. I said outloud, we're going a little quick for that... you may want to slow down. He agreed & I didn't see him again. My watch clicked off 1 mile at 6:15. Problem was, I didn't see the first course mile marker/clock until 6:5x. "WHAT?!?!?", I exclaimed to the guy next to me. This can't be right. It's probably off & they'll correct the mile markers by mile 2.

My watch shows 6:40 for mile 2. I could have picked it up, but in my mind I was averaging my first two miles to be a 6:30. I didn't want to start off too fast. So I held to 6:40 and waited for the 2nd mile marker. I passed that in 13:35 or so. Is it possible that both the 1 and 2 mile markers are off? I didn't know what to do at this point! My goal was 6:30s, so by the course, I was already 35 seconds off. Not good. I tried to pick it up to 6:30 pace, but just couldn't find it. I figured it was because my mile markers were probably right, so just to roll with it. I DIDN'T want to be a slave to the watch.

Plus, I had a bit of a stomach ache. I was a little afraid of that, because during my last marathon I battled stomach issues the entire way. Wonder what causes that? Luckily, it went away after about 5 miles. Crisis averted.

I passed the 5k mark in 20:39. Hmm. Goal was 20 minutes. I decided to stop worrying. Just run comfortable & try to find marathon pace. I eventually did, and when that happened, WOW. How easy! 6:29s nearly every mile. It felt effortless and I didn't even need the watch. Note for next time: maybe I need to do more MP work without a watch? To learn how that pace "feels"? I think the 2nd warm up would have helped, because I usually work up to MP during that warmup. Missing that meant that I was coming into that pace totally cold.

Anyway, I kept battling with my pace mentally during the race. When do I start to make up my deficit? I'm feeling good (really good!), but I told myself to wait. Bad things can happen if you go out too hard too early.

I ended up going through the 1/2 way point in 1:26.11. I couldn't believe the clock. Again, another "What?!? Oh NOO!", this time to myself. I knew that I needed to start picking it up STAT. Had I just blown my chances at a fast time? Why hadn't I corrected myself sooner?? I told myself to forget about it & just concentrate on the 2nd half. I'm a VERY good negative splitter, I told myself. You still have this! Plus, you're not even tired. You have a lot more to give!

One thing I did really well during the beginning of the marathon was managing energy and water. I took a gel at the start, at about 7 miles, and at about 11 miles (I'll update this later with actual mile markers). I took water at nearly every stop (only missed one) and poured a cup over my head as well, even though it was cool. I was a little full, but it worked out great. Take them early, and often! It kept the dizziness away the entire marathon!!

... I'll sign off for now with the 1/2 way mark. More to come later!
P.S. Not the best picture, but one of the only ones I have for the first part of the race :)

Nichole Porath

Nichole is a blogger, elite level runner, and coach. She ran professionally for Brooks for two years after qualifying for the 2012 US Olympic Marathon Trials. During that time she founded TNC endurance, where she coaches and motivationally speaks to organizations large and small. This blog details her rise to national-level racing, and continues to follow her as she gets back into racing after starting a family. Read on, friends!


  1. I didn't want to say anything about carbo-loading while you were doing it, but now... it's been shown that the 3 day depletion phase works primarily for untrained people, rather than those getting ready for a marathon. What's typically done now is a long run a week from the marathon to deplete, then three days of normal mileage to stay depleted, then the loading. A study from Western Australia University has shown good results with a very simple one-day depletion/loading: run a half mile all-out, recover and do an all-out sprint, then down as many carbs as possible in 2-5 hours.

  2. Really? I did a bit of research on it before I attempted it -- didn't ever read about the untrained people aspect. Is that something (relatively) new? Wonder why that's the case?

    I've heard about the one day depletion/loading stage. I think the results on that were that the glycogen stores weren't as high (but the benefit is that it doesn't take a week)... is that correct?

    Do you have any resources? Books, or links to web articles? It'd be good to read further into this...

    Could have been the fact that I was pretty well trained, but my legs have never felt so strong/had sustained energy throughout the entire race. Without reading any more into the science behind it, I'd definitely do the whole depletion/carbo load again.

  3. I'll have to dig up the references again (it's been a while), but I think I started with Tim Noakes' "Lore of Running" and its references.

  4. Hey Nichole - So during your carb loading phase do you not consume any protein or fats? Maybe I'm confused...

  5. So far, I know it was David Costill, before 1984... still searching for the reference.