Why I decided to run two marathons two days in a row:
I wanted to qualify for Marathon Maniac status in 2013 (three marathons in 90 days)!
I heard about MM from Angie talking about them on the Marathon Training Academy podcast and thought this was the group for me!
So I signed up for three races in 90 days:
- Rock and Roll Marathon San Antonio in November
- The Dallas Marathon in December
- New Year’s Eve Marathon in Allen, Texas
But when the Dallas Marathon cancelled due to the ice storm, I was in a bind. Without that three marathons I couldn’t reach Maniac status. So the best way to accomplish this was to run the Allen Double Marathon -two full marathons back-to-back! The upside is this qualified me for the Iridium level of MM (#8433) and I got some pretty cool hardware to go with it (see bottom of post).
How I Ran a Double Marathon
Day 1 was pretty simple and routine for me – two cups of coffee with coconut crème and a banana. During the race, I had a banana and two salt sticks at mile 13, and the same at mile 19 ½. While my fastest marathon is a 4:09, I was not planning on “racing” – just keeping the pace strong. The goal was to finish under 4:30 and feel strong the next day! The only challenge I had was around mile 21/22; my stomach felt stiff, not like a cramp, but more like bloating. I wondered if the 2nd banana was too much. I finished strong, never stopped and had plenty of energy. I grabbed some water at every aid station (1 or 2 cups) and refused the Gatorade.
For me, day one mentally was kind of a training run at a faster pace. I felt good throughout the race and there were not many challenges except for the stomach discomfort at mile 21/22. My focus was just to finish strong, and feel well enough to come back and do this again. The course was a fairly flat “out & back” that you ran four times. There were three waters stops and a bag station. The bag station made it easy for me because I did not have to carry anything with me during the race.
It was so great to see all the other runners, you got to see them many times with the out & back. There were a lot of Marathon Maniacs and Half Maniacs there wearing their bright shirts; you could tell they loved this type of race event.
That afternoon I had a “fat” green smoothie (spinach, large avocado, chia seeds, coconut milk and berries blended up in a Vitamix®) and Mexican food for dinner with plenty of grilled veggies. While I was certainly sore, I would say I felt pretty good overall.
Day 2 was about the same, except I ate the banana closer to race time (I felt a little hungry at mile 8 the day before). I also had an almond nut butter packet and added extra coconut oil to my coffee so I could top off the fat stores. During the race I stayed on plan – one banana at mile 13 with two salt sticks. At mile 19½ I decided to skip the banana, had the salt sticks and grabbed a Honey Stinger instead. I took in tiny amounts of the Honey Stinger (sugar trickling) every few miles and finished it off at mile 24. I also only had water again at the aid stations. It was not hot so I did not need to take in much water.
I felt about the same with a little extra soreness at the start. I started slower than the previous day, although I loosened up quickly and felt strong for the first 20 miles. After I made the last turn my mind quickly had thoughts about it being the final loop. I had run this course seven times already, the wind was still strong, the course thinned as the half marathoners finished up and there were just a few of us out on the course. Even the camera folks went home! I did run into a few half marathoners still in the race; their strength and determination to run this race was encouraging to me. I thought “if they could still be out here for this long – then so can I!”
As I got to mile 21, things slowed way down. I just felt I did not have the strength to keep up the pace. I walked more and just took it easy. My thoughts were “run when you can” but do not force anything. This is when the inner strength played a key role in moving me forward. I never wanted to drop out or quit, that was not an option . . . it just became about finishing the race and completing my goal!
Due to the lack of training for this type of event, I just did not have as strong of a foundation as I would have liked to have had. My training did not include long runs that were back to back, but I was able to run the last mile all the way in! While the 4:44 time was not a record (my goal was a sub-5 hour for day two), it was faster than my first marathon when I was 25, so I felt pretty good about it not being my slowest race.
In summary, the race went as planned. I did not plan on running two marathons back-to-back this season until Dallas cancelled their race in December. I only had a few weeks to turn my marathon training into double marathon race training. I am still amazed that I ran both races on three bananas and one Honey Stinger! Talk about fat-adapted training working!
While I am not recommending the exact same fuel for others, I would suggest you look at fat-adapted training. It really does work! You will be amazed by how much better you feel during and after the race.
If you train properly and build a solid training base, you can achieve more than you realize. Training fat-adapted and building up a strong Zone 2 base will go far and help reduce the risk of injury.
While I did not have a strict race plan, I did set realistic goals and expectations. The challenge when charting new ground is to keep it simple and have fun. Running a few back-to-back days helped before the race and I wish I’d had more time to incorporate that into my training. I hardly ever run multiple days in a row.
You can read more about Plant Powered No Sugar No Grains fueling (PPNSNG) and Zone 2/fat-adapted training on my other blog entries:
Allen Double Marathon
Day 1: 4:25
Day 2: 4:44
Total: 9:09 for 52.4 Miles
Statistics – finished in the top 50% for all statistical categories!
Congratulations BJ, my NSNG friend! You are one tough gluten free cookie! Your second day marathon was faster than my disaster at the recent Rocket City Marathon.
Thanks Trevor, I have not tried Ucan yet but I hear you have to play around with it a bit to dial it in.
Way to go on the double marathon. I was there on New Years Day doing the half. It was a nice race and it was incredible those that were doing the marathons on those two day.