Sunday, October 30, 2011

Marathon Checklist & Plans

Holy schnikes! Somebody stop the clock! I want to savor the moment. It's hard to imagine that it has been almost a year ago today that I was planning what to pack for the 2010 NYC Marathon, trying to imagine what it would be like to run with 45,000 friends and have no clue of what to expect in the biggest footrace of all. Now here I go again, one year older and one year wiser.

Just part of what I had a chance to pack...still not done...
This past week I’ve received daily emails from the NYRR club about racing tips and overall info about the marathon.  It is hard to contain myself from all the excitement.  Every time an email pops up, it stirs up the butterflies in my belly.  It’s less than 7 days away, I can hardly believe it is almost here.  To help contain my excitement, I’ve come up with a checklist I used from my past experiences and collected from my readings. I’ve never really shared this with anyone.  It may be too much info, but hey, this is my reality—so bear with me.

Aileen’s Marathon Race Day Checklist

• Shoes (w/orthotics)  & Socks
• Top if cold (under 50 degrees):  running bra + Marathon Maniac singlet + Under Armor long sleeves red shirt
• Bottom if cold: Skins Capri + Zoot shorties w/ pocket
• Top if warm (over 50 degrees): MM singlet over Sugoi Tank + arm warmers
• Bottom if warm: Zoot shorties + leg sleeves
• Fuel belt-2 bottles
• Bib w/ Timing Chip
• Pin on Fuel Belt 2 flasks if donning an LL shirt to tie around waist.
• Energy Gels  6:  45’ (mile 4.5), 1’30” (mile 10), 2’15” (mile 15), 3’ (mile 20), 3’45” (mile24)
• Advil
• Table Salt packets
• Garmin
• HR monitor
• Sunglasses
• Burt’s Bees Lip Balm
• Aveeno sunscreen
• Pre race clothes-charity garments
• Post race clothes-pants, jacket, long sleeve shirt, hat, undergarments, gaiter, mittens
• Baby wipes (to wipe off grimy salt after race)
• Skirt to use as a cover up while taking off wet clothes
• Money
• Lawn Bag – to keep warm & if raining​
• UPS check bag
• Cardboard or foam to sit on

2 Days Before – Friday
Go to the Expo at Javits Convention Center and pickup race packet.  Eat a light meal high in carbs.

Night before – Saturday
Start marathon ritual: Lay out clothing starting with socks orthotics, shoes, shorts, under garments, singlet, Heart rate monitor, watch, sunglasses, hat and then charity garments.
Get to bed early.  I already know it’s okay if I can't get much sleep.  This is normal excitement
before the race.  It won't affect my running. But I’ve taken Tylenol PM in my past 4 marathons (NY, Napa, Oakland, The Ave of Giants) to make sure I get my sleep. It’s just a matter of choice.

Morning of Race
Wake up 3 hours before (3 am.) Shower to wake up. Eat breakfast at least 2 hours before (5 am): coffee, oatmeal, banana, plain bagel.  Put on racing gear: bib, prerace charity clothes, socks, shoes, orthotics. Try to get a bowel movement out of the way before leaving for the bus. Keep drinking water to hydrate. Get to NY Public library to board bus at 5:30 am. Bring metro card emergency cash and stow away in the post race bag.

The Staging Area - Fort Wadsworth
Find porta-potties at the race venue and used them.
Find my corral and use cardboard to sit on. Try to relax.
Use lawn bag to keep warm. Keep drinking water. Eat 2nd Breakfast between 8:30-9:00
Find the location for the post marathon bag drop off.
Gentle stretching. Visualize the race. Review race execution list.
TP on Ziploc just in case they run out.

Post Race Bag should have the following: Metro card, money, w/driver’s license,
Subway map, baby wipes, beanie, mittens, flip flops

Moments before the Gun
Enjoy listening to Sinatra’s New York-New York—they’ll play it just before the gun.
Start casting off charity clothes.
Reminder:  Tell myself that it took me 18 weeks to get here and that I am “Higdon” trained.
Read my victory notes--all my training obstacles that I overcame to get here. Think about the early part of 2011 with the injury and how I overcame it and how I came out much stronger and wiser.
Run my race smartly.
Consult my split times. Think about hard areas and my strategy to overcome those obstacles.
Adjust watch and HRM.
Adjust shoe laces.
Last minute potty break? Always!
Mentally prepare for gun.
Have my Gu? My Gatorade? Clif Shot?

During the Race
Fuel belt w/ 2 bottles
Advil (if needed)
6 Gu
Cell Phone

Race Execution
Take Table salt after 1 mile
Gu every 45 minutes
@mile 5 or 45:00
@mile 10 or 1:30
@mile 15 or 2:15
@mile 20 or 3:00
@mile 23 or 3:30
Take water with Gu
Gatorade every other aide station
Take Table Salt after mile 13.1

There you have it, my race plans.  Even with the best intentions, I might miss a couple of things here and there because of the excitement and adrenaline.  It is very easy to forget once you are in the moment and racing. Your mind wanders to a thousand different directions that it is helpful to have a checklist in your mind to reign in and focus on your plan. It looks good on paper, we shall see if I can execute according to my plan.

It seems the last three weeks of my training came to such an abrupt end. It was as if somebody pushed the fast forward button and then here we are!  I’m not complaining at all. It just seems like it was yesterday when I first heard the news from my fellow blogger,, that I was in! I made it into the NYC marathon a second time, two years in a row. Why don’t I get this kind of luck at Vegas! Oh wait, you do have to play to get lucky!

I’m on the cusp of the 2nd to the last week of the taper period. I only had to do 4 miles on Saturday (negative split with the 2nd half 27seconds faster for each mile) and an easy 8 on Sunday (another negative split with the last half 30 seconds faster per mile).  That gave me 22 miles for the week.  I’ve cut down 44% from last week’s mileage. I’ve been very good about sticking to the program and not adding anything that might cause a last minute injury. In fact, I’ve even taken an extra day off to rest this week. To be honest, I had a minor scare last weekend.  At the end of my long run I felt my right Achilles twinge. I was a little concerned.  Then my right psoas started to tweak on top of that. I thought, "This is it, the other shoe finally dropped!"  No, I didn’t panic. It was a good thing it happened at end of the run so I went straight home, iced and laid low for two days.  I don’t know whether it could have been just the taper madness playing tricks on me, where every muscle twinge is amplified, or what. Now thankfully, everything is back to normal. The right Achilles is fine and so is my psoas.   The name of the game at this point in time is to stay healthy and not do anything stupid. I’ve been carbo-loading, watching what I eat, staying away from sick folks and washing my hands. The final week of my training program from Hal Higdon (Advance 1) looks like:

Week  #18  – Final Taper Week

Mon—3 mi easy
Tues —4x400 repeats
Wed—2 mi easy
Thursday—no running—travel to marathon location—keep drinking—get good sleep
Friday — no running—EXPO, pasta load—keep drinking—get good sleep
Saturday—2 miles easy @ Central Park—pasta load—keep drinking all day and eating—get rest
Sunday—ING NY City Marathon 2011! (Forecast: lo 46-hi 68, partly sunny)

Here’s to staying healthy and injury free!   7 days to New York! (Actually I leave Thursday so I only have 5 days to go!)

The biggest two marathon tips ever:
1. Don't try to do anything new this week.
2. No cramming for last minute speedwork.  Nothing you do in the last 3 weeks will make you anymore faster on Nov 6.


  1. I definitely think you are ready. You've done the training and you've thought through all the details. All that's left now is to execute and enjoy!

  2. You've got the plan, all you have to do is execute! You've done a fantastic job preparing for this race, Aileen. Your training has worked, you've gotten gradually fitter and fitter. All that's left now is a controlled PR race! Good Luck!!!!

  3. Thanks Mike and thanks Rich! I appreciate your encouragement and support throughout my training. It's been one fantastic journey! Here's to NY!

  4. Hi Eileen- Nice list! Is there a place to change after the race? Why advil...for the pain? Anyway, I'll email you at your ymail.

  5. Mmv, hi! Advil for just in case of whatever pain that might pop up. Probably won't use it at all. I'm gonna use my big full skirt (have it around my neck) or a big lawn bag as a cover up to change in between the UPS trucks. No place to change but there. But it makes a big difference in comfort once I get the wet clothes off me. I have a long 3 mile walk home back to Harlem.