Setting Goals

I was asked by Becca if I thought it was a wise idea to make a goal time for a first marathon.  To make this sound less awkward I’ll just rewrite the question like it’s an interview.

Do you think it’s a good idea to make a concrete goal time for a first marathon?  Do you regret it?

First, I regret not looking at what the NYC marathon course actually consisted of.  I regret not knowing that there were big elevation changes outside the bridges and not realizing that gradual uphills would be the death of me.  If I had known that I probably would have changed my goal to 3:15.  (Who could predict wind).

I think your primary goal for any road race (especially when you don’t know the distance) is to finish.  Finishing a marathon, half marathon, 10k, 8k, 5k, ect injury free is a huge accomplishment.  Never take it for granted.

I don’t regret making a goal time though.  The marathon is like any other road race just longer.  It involves more training but if you train appropriately you will finish.  A 5k requires more training then finishing a 100 meter dash.  (notice I said finishing).  When I completed the marathon a wide range of emotion went through me. While yes I successfully completed my first marathon I don’t feel like it changed me.  I don’t feel like some new women who only has to do marathons.  I don’t feel like I had a life revelation and now can become inspirational.  I feel exactly how I did before running the race.  My opinion of running hasn’t changed.

When I first signed up for the NYC back in May I did it on my terms.  I would have been able to train for a marathon 1 or even 2 years ago…but I didn’t feel like it.  I didn’t see the point.  I still felt like a runner whether I have run a marathon or 500 marathons.   I didn’t feel pressure to sign up or that everyone is running a marathon so me too!

Will I run another marathon?  Yes and maybe that marathon will give me the soul searching or new women experience others had.  For now I’ll continue resting and recovering with hopes to run next week.

If you have any questions feel free to ask or email me at lolzthatswim(at)gmail

Questions for you:

What is your favorite running distance?

How did you feel after your first marathon? 


NYCM Carbohydrate Depletion and Loading Review

Before I began the process of carbohydrate depletion and loading I wrote a post about it.  I promised I would write my thoughts and review but thinking about it I don’t have a lot to compare it too.  I’ve only run one marathon and during that marathon I still hit a wall and hit it hard.  That being said I will still review my thoughts.  I left my diet and nutrition to simmer for a week because I wanted a little bit more time to recover and think about it.  Though I cannot really say my diet this week is anything to blog about…

Carbohydrate depletion (Sunday-Tuesday).

From Sunday through Tuesday, I focused on having minimal carbohydrates.  I wasn’t strict about it but instead of having pancakes for breakfast, I opted for eggs.  Instead of having a sandwich for lunch I opted for a protein rich salad.  I made little choices.  I didn’t severely limit my carbohydrates and I didn’t limit my calorie intake at all I opted to chose protein and fat rich food versus carbohydrate rich food.

Wednesday was a normal day for me as I transitioned into carbohydrate loading.

Carbohydrate loading Thursday-Saturday. 

This was about the complete opposite. I consumed no salads and minimal vegetables.  Since I am not a fan of pasta I lived off of a lot of diner pancakes while traveling and a lot of rice and bread at home.  I didn’t find it too difficult but I did notice with just having more carbohydrates and less fat and protein I was a lot more hungry all the time.  I have a feeling with my drop of exercise, I overate but I was hungry and I would rather not be hungry at the starting line.

During the process thoughts:

Since we were traveling and the diner pancakes were good (ha), I didn’t find carbohydrate loading as hard as I thought it would.  For someone who prefers a 1 pound steak versus a big bowl of pasta I thought that would be my biggest struggle.  When I was carbohydrate loading I was constantly hungry and thirsty.  I held about 5 additional pounds of water weight.  (If you don’t hold water weight you aren’t doing it right).

I will say holding that additional water weight made me a little bit nervous but I knew it was for solid preparation.

Race thoughts:

I felt like I had a lot of energy but I did not feel like I had an amazing energy boost.  The combination of being up at 3:50 and the race not starting until 9:40 made for a long morning already.  I consumed pancakes at 4:00am and also a bagel at 7:30am.  (I had roughly 800 calories before the start). Then I had a gel at mile 8, 14 and 20.  (I had Gatorade at mile markers not directly before the mile I had a gel).

Would I try it again?

To be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure.  I am comparing oranges to apples but I have run my fastest half marathons on not carbohydrate loading and eating normally.  My dinner before any of my half marathon PRs has been a salmon salad from various restaurants (each time I know has had about 600-700 calories.  I like my dressing.  I have a more indepth list that will qualify it for a good prerace salad then qualifying gas station coffee).   That isn’t to say I don’t consume a lot of carbohydrates (or cut calories) but I do have a lot more protein normally.  Another point of interest was that my body was not used to eating that many carbohydrates. Due to a rare medical condition that my body fails to absorb sugars correctly, this probably came as a shock.  Since the primary factor keeping me at a normal blood glucose level is lifestyle choices (IE diet and exercise) I should have known that it wouldn’t work as well but I tried.  It was a lesson I would rather learn on my first marathon then 10th.  When I did change my diet to 80% carbohydrates, looking back I know my body didn’t absorb it all.  It honestly was a bit upsetting because for the last year I have felt normal (it hasn’t really effected much training so it’s unnecessary to talk about) but this was a reality check.

Next marathon, I think I will try something different.  I am going to eat closer to my normal meals until closer to the marathon (2 days before) and then eat a lot more carbohydrate rich food and see how my body reacts.  I thought my glycogen stores were full during the race but looking back I’m not entirely sure.  I think now I was completely depleted of energy at mile 20.  While that could have been a combination of a late start, no speed work, my body not used to running that quickly for 2 hours but it also was probably from a not having my storage completely full.

After looking back at nutrition I will be making a lot more changes before my next marathon.  I’m hoping to find a marathon that does not require a lot of travel or that I could stay at a friends or my family (not really possible my family since I don’t want to do the Shamrock full or the Norfolk Freedom full…) house to prepare food that I know will work better for me.   I think finding a marathon closer to home where I don’t have to be up and awake 6 hours prior and provide me a easier race logistic wise.

Questions for you:

Have you ever carb loaded for a race?

Lessons Learned from Marathon Training

The next few posts are going to be dedicated to the marathon.  I could possibly spend 2 weeks talking about various aspects of my training but I don’t want to bore you too much.  I won’t be doing “an expo recap”, a “race recap parts 1-26.35 (because Garmins are more accurate then the NYC course itself) or traveling” ect. Type of posts.  I trained for this race for close to half a year so I do have a lot to say.

Here are just some of the posts I’m working on but feel free to let me know if you have any other questions or posts you are interested in  (or any you don’t want to hear about).

The full marathon recap (2000 words but there are photos!)
Training lessons (below)
Physical marathon lesson thoughts
Taper Review
The Carbohydrate depletion and load review
Advice for running New York City
How I’m recovering and future marathon plans   

I learned a lot about my first marathon via training and physically running the race.  These are lessons I think I could only learn by experiencing them for myself.  I did a lot of things I don’t regret but I also made a lot of poor decisions.  I didn’t make poor decisions because I meant too, I made them because I didn’t know what the proper thing to do was or what would work for me.

First my training as a whole:

I thought I had moderately good training for the full. I got the most important thing in: the long runs.  I did 4, 20 mile runs and 1 half marathon and then added 7 more to make it 20+.  So I did 5 long runs beforehand.  I got the mileage in despite traveling and moving.

What I didn’t do were workouts that resembled the pace I wanted.  In the most critical time of my training was when I lacked the most crucial part (speed). I think my legs had forgotten what pace I wanted to hold for the marathon.  For my first marathon that was fine and a lesson learned. I wanted to use this race as a learning experience.

Here are positives I liked about my training:

  1. I ran averaged about 70 miles weekly with a rest day.  It gave me confidence and also gave my body a day to recover.  I truly think resting and having easier mileage is what has kept me injury free.
  2. My only speed workouts were races and it made running by myself or with others enjoyable.
  3. I was never stressed about marathon training.  Yes, I wanted to a 3:10 but at the same time I wanted to enjoy the process of training for my first marathon and enjoy myself.  I had an umbrella goal because I was going in and not knowing what to except.

Here are things I think that hindered my training and that I will change for my next marathon (which won’t be Boston but I do plan to run many more):

  1. First I won’t be moving or traveling.  I can honestly say after I moved, the last 2 months my training were not exactly what I wanted.  I enjoy living outside of running and training though so I don’t regret anything.
  2. I didn’t do speed workouts that resembled my marathon pace.  Looking back I wish I had done more speed workouts or races leading up to the marathon.  I would have liked to do a couple more half marathons, 10ks, 5ks or anything really.  The half marathon I had my eyes on in Texas happened to be the week my knee was feeling off so I didn’t do it.  Multiple race options didn’t exist in Del Rio (unless I wanted to drive 3+ hours every weekend) but I have those options in New Jersey.
  3. I gained weight.  I gained about 5 extra pounds in the last month which I don’t really relate to marathon training but moving in with a significant other, enjoying life…ect.  I’m not worried about it but it was just a note of interest.  I’m not saying I have an interest in losing that weight but when you are used to running at a certain weight and all of a sudden you gain 5 pounds it’s a point of interest.
  4. I didn’t do core work or weight training like I wanted.  When life fell by the wayside, I don’t regret it but I know I should have done more of that.

The thing about training is that you also must exist outside of working out.  Something I often discuss outside of blogging is I want to be known as Hollie.  I don’t want to be known as Hollie and all she does is work out/run.  I think it’s very important to realize that even though I didn’t dedicate 100% of my focus to this training cycle, I had a very enjoyable time both with running and in the outside world.  I  am dedicated and got my miles in but there were several occasions that I skipped the gym/lifting weights or a second run in order to relax or hang out with friends.

It all worked out though and I learned a lot that I never would have learned without exper it for myself and training how I did.

Questions for you:

What have you learned from your current or last training cycle?

Tell me something that you do outside of reading blogs, working out, cooking of baking. 

The Positives and Negatives

They say when you finish your first marathon you are hungry for another.  You want to look at every aspect of your training and what to improve on and what to chop out.  I enjoyed the marathon distance but it hasn’t consumed me to the point that I only want to do marathons now forever.  I was going to add this to the end of my race recap but the post was so long and I figured it would be easier to space it out.  After giving my objective thoughts about the race I thought I would talk about various aspects of the race and my personal thoughts.  I learned a lot of lessons from the race that I would never learn without running it.

First people can tell you this 100 times but you have truly experience it for yourself.  The marathon is not two half marathons.  The difficulty of the race is equal to five half marathons.  For me, I can break the race up as the first 15 miles and then the last 11.2.  Most people say it is a 20 miler and 10k pain train but I boarded the 10k early at mile 15.

The course itself would be one of the most hated and grueling courses if there were not so many people cheering and supporting you.  What I didn’t know prior (because I didn’t do my research) is that people don’t come to NY looking for a fast time.  What people don’t realize is that it has a lot of bridges but when running in the neighborhood boroughs, the road is still a gradual incline.  Since the course is point to point, it doesn’t mean what goes up must come down.

I don’t think I took the race out to fast at all.  My plan was to run the first half in 1:35 and then see where the second half of the race went.  I knew it was very unlikely that I would be negative splitting my first marathon.  I would rather finish happy and strong versus dying.  That was my original goal but you know by now I still finished dying.  Finishing your first marathon not about to peel over is an overzealous goal.

I think I had two phases of bonking.  First, when my quads began to tire and cramp at mile 15.  I was mentally still capable of running the same pace and I didn’t start to die too much.  After talking to several people they tell me due to the elevation of the NYCM course your quads will be sore.  Since it was so hilly it was working quads.  (Before the race I was sure my calves were going to be the most sore).

My second phase of bonking was when my glycogen was completely gone from my system around mile 18-19.  I could have probably eaten a dozen krispy cream donuts and it would not have been enough sugar for my blood stream.  I think that comes from an effort of 7:15 pace for 2 hours.

Incase you wondered what I ate and drank during the race: a gel at mile 8, 14 and 20.  I took Gatorade at every mile except for 7,8 13, 14 19 and 20.  I took water at those stops so I didn’t mix Gatorade and gel.  I believe I read on Janae’s blog to take fluid at every stop so that is how I decided to do that.  I think it worked out really well.  I think my fueling was fantastic for me and I think my bonk came from not running enough speed workouts.

Positives of the race:

I finished my first marathon.  I trained for a marathon and I finished it.

I ran a smart race.  I was 210th woman overall and 10th in my age group.  I am pretty proud of that!

I liked my fueling.

I still plan to run my next full conservatively.  My next goal will be a 3:10 and I will still plan to take it out in 1:35 and hope I have more energy.

What I’ll change next time:

I’ll look for a flatter and less challenging marathon course.  Does that make me sound lazy?  I don’t know but I think on a better day (less wind) I am fully capable of running a faster time.

Final New York thoughts:

I liked the race and I like the distance.  I am not 100% hooked that I need to do marathons and only marathons.  I do plan to do another marathon but I plan to work more on a half again right now (after I have recovered).

Will I do NYCM again? Yes, most certainly.  You cannot beat the crowds and cheering.

Questions for you:

Have you done NYCM?  Have you ever cheered there?

What is the toughest race you have ever done? 

Full NYCM Race Recap (3:17.23)

I’m extending on my previous post and giving a bit more in-depth coverage filled with pictures and more thoughts.  Since I ran for over three hours I have a lot more to say. 

Time to begin then.

We stayed in a hotel in Flushing, NY.  For me personally, I don’t do well with big cities (que social anxiety) and I like to have my own personal time.  It doesn’t even make sense of why I was dead set on NY being my first marathon because I hate big, crowded cities.   So I woke up at 3:50 took all the trains to the city (led by my train savvy brother).  We made it to the ferry around 5:30.  I waited for a while and ended up taking the 6 am ferry followed by waiting in the terminal, riding a bus and getting to my orange corral.  It was very organized and streamline.

Like I said before, I didn’t do my research on the NYCM course like I should have.  I knew it was a “hilly” and challenging course but I didn’t anticipate how hilly or challenging.  I ran this watchless.  My watch broke the day before the race completely then the new one I purchased wasn’t working correctly so I had no other choice.  I wish someone would have said “Hollie this is one of the harder marathon courses you can do”…but no one did. Honestly even if they did it was where my heart was dead set on this being my first marathon so I wouldn’t have taken their advice


Windy beautiful morning

Windy beautiful morning

Before the race I was utterly freezing.  I had disposable clothing, drank coffee and hot water but it didn’t seem to help.  The wind was piercing through my jacket.  Next time I plan to wear multiple layers because waiting around for 2 hours chilled me to the bone.   That was my first lesson learned.  The wind was my only nature complaint but you can’t control weather.

I talked to Adam and Susan at the start which made the time go by super quickly.  It didn’t feel like we were standing on the Verrazano Bridge for close to an hour.

The Actual Race: 


Once we started the cannon went off, I took into account what everyone told me.  Make the first mile your absolute slowest, don’t waste time and energy weaving through people.  So I didn’t waste energy and didn’t weave.  While the clock said I had done a 9 minute mile I later found out this was 7:10.  Thank you mom for buying the text tracking for my splits.

The first two miles were up and over the Verrazano bridge.  The helicopters were swirling by and I tried to get myself on TV.  I kept yelling Tyra I am America’s Next Top Model but for some reason they didn’t pick me out of a crowd.

After mile 2 I focused on getting to the 5k…then 4 miles.  I knew my brother and dad as well as the Oiselle team were going to be standing around 8 miles so it gave me my first point of interest to look forward too.  It was also when the other bib colors converged so it was one big mess.  I never saw my brother and dad but saw the Oiselle team.  Seeing them made me girl cry all emotionally.  From that point on, I continued to keep a certain mile or mark in my head to get too.  Once I hit that mark I would think of the next one.


After mile 8 I focused on making it to mile 10.  I like the number 10 and thinking in terms of double digit runs so it was the next step.  There were quite a few gradual mile long uphills that started to take their toll on my legs.  As with the half marathon 10-11 is my least favorite mile.  I can say it ranks in the least favorites here too.  I don’t know why but it felt neverending.

Mile 12 I focused on getting to 13 then 13.1. In my mind the second half would go by quicker than the first half.  That is how my training runs go and most races right?  Wrong the second half didn’t even start for me until mile 16.

Mile 13 was on a bridge and I started to think about my next gel at 14.  Then I saw Laura and Heather with sweet signs at 14.5 and that was cheerful, especially when we were going into the queensboro bridge.

I could write an entire post about the mile span on the Queensboro Bridge.  That single mile goes down as my least favorite mile ever ran in my entire running career.  (including miles in middle and high school gym class).

Mile 15 went over the Queensboro Bridge and I can say this is where the wheels started to fall apart.  My quads and inner thighs were on fire.  I thought to myself again, how the hell will I get through 11 more miles?  The first half of mile 15 was up the bridge.  It took so much out of me I don’t remember going down the second half.  Then I began to feel my quads.  It was the only thing that bothered me throughout the entire rest of the race.  By bothered me,I mean I mumbled every word under my breath about it the rest of the time.  I haven’t been doing any hill work after leaving Oswego so I felt and suffered through it.   I felt my quads with every single stride for the next 10.2 miles.

After rejoining the real world of NYC I focused on getting to mile 17.  The crowds were going wild and louder than anything I have ever experienced.  Around this point was when I first got a glimpse of Granato racing.  I tried to pull myself together,  seeing them lifted my spirits for the first time.  Between seeing them and Ashley (thank you for the awesome photos) I was able to be slightly less in pain mentally.

Hello friends.

Hello friends.

Mile 18 was a bit of a blur and once I got to 19 I concluded that I only had about an hour to go.  I saw my pace was starting to rise and people were passing me left and right.  I just wanted to finish.

At mile 20, I started my quest for the bathroom.  (I also took another gel around mile 20). Since I didn’t see a single girl using the restroom on the side of the bridge at the beginning I didn’t want to be that girl.  Dozens of males were just peeing on the side on the bridge but no females had.  (Keep in my mind we were lined up for the corral 45 minutes without a restroom before the race.) My quads had been burning for the last four miles and now I was physically exhausted too.  I contemplated stopping and walking but I knew I would never start running again.

So around mile 21 I found an open bathroom.  Lucky for me I was in and out in about 1 minute and I felt like the wall had been lifted for a mile. The rest of mile 21 felt decent from my brief break and my quads had temporarily stopped hurting.  I don’t regret stopping at the bathroom and honestly the time I lost I am positive I gained back because I felt a lot better afterwords.  Unless I become a sub 2 hour marathoner I think I will always need to stop and restroom because my bladder is tiny.

The rest of mile 21 went quickly since I was looking forward to the Oiselle water stop at mile 22.  After the water stop, my pace slowed again and I just felt like dog meat.  After this point, I only focused on one mile at a time.  Mile 22 was focused on getting to mile 23.  Mile 23 was focused on getting to 23.1 (5k left to go).

Mile 24 was when I saw the most amount of people (well most amount of people not hitting this wall and passing me) but most amount of people watching and cheering.  Seeing the whole #GranatoRacingteam made me smile to the power of 10,000 suns (both times!) as well as seeing Laura, Heather, my dad and brother did.  I tried to muster up the energy and wave and it was hard.  People told me I looked strong afterwords but I really didn’t feel that way.  My brother knew how hard I was riding the pain train though.  He was the only one who told me “Hollie I knew you were in some serious pain when I saw you”.  For everyone who told me you looked strong at mile 23…false.

This is 100% how I felt. There are quite a few beautiful photos like this.

This is 100% how I felt. There are quite a few beautiful photos like this.

The final two miles in Central Park were the hardest.  The hills weren’t over and it felt like the longest 15 minutes of my life.   I contemplated walking at least 15 times (once per minute).

After seeing the ½ mile to go and thinking it was the 26 mile marker…I cringed.  Then seeing the 26 mile marker and thinking it was the end…I also cringed.  The last 4 minutes of the race felt like the twilight zone.


Then I finally crossed the finish line and had absolutely no energy.  I didn’t pick it up, I didn’t smile for any race photos and I just zoned into the finish line.  I didn’t even wave to the finish line photos because I just wanted it to be done.  I ended up finishing 210th female overall and 10th in my age group.  A side note but the 100th US woman finished in 3:16.  So close!   A lot of people have said due to the 20 mile winds it was a slow marathon year.  I looked back at 2011 and the top 100 US woman finished in 3:10.  That is a huge difference!

When they handed me a medal, I smiled and took a few official race photos.

The next part was the hardest and most frustrating part of the entire day.  After the race we had to walk nearly 2 mile out of central park to get to the family reunion area.  The 2 mile walk took me close to an hour.  I was alone, had no cell phone and freezing.  It didn’t help that I was in rougher conditions then most people around me.  I was walking a lot slower then everyone else.  It got to the point where marathoners finishing 20 minutes after I did were walking by me.  I was asked a few times if I was okay because I was pale and I assured the volunteers that I was just cold and wanting my pants (which were with my brother and dad).

After meeting up with Matt, dad, Laura and Heather I chatted for a while and got some coffee and food.  I managed to eat 2 recovery powerbars and drink the recovery Gatorade right after the race.  I actually really like those power bars so I was happy they were giving them out in the recovery bags.


So that is the play by play of the entire race.  I enjoyed seeing everyone on the course and the cheering.  I have another 2000 word post of my thoughts regarding training as well.  For a brief heads up, I spent roughly 6 months focused on this race so I’ll have about a weeks worth of posts.

Questions for you:

Do you eat right after a race?

What is your least favorite mile marker?

For half marathons, it’s 11, and for the marathon, it was 15 (but I think that was course specific).

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