Yesterday I ran the Green Mountain Marathon - my ninth marathon and my fastest marathon so far. I have run both the half and full marathons on this course before, so the route was very familiar to me. It's a great mix of rolling hills, pavement and dirt roads, and beautiful scenery.
The weather conditions called for 60's and cloudy with wind. The first half of the race there was a strong tail wind, but with an out and back course that unfortunately meant the second half was into a brutal headwind. Generally speaking, you want your first half of the marathon to be equal to or faster than the second half. However, when you have a 20 mph tailwind for the first half and then a 20+ mph headwind for the second half, you have to adjust your strategy. My plan was to go out slightly faster than marathon pace and return slightly slower. I also wanted to find someone to work with on the way back so we could alternate turns blocking the wind. I managed to do this almost perfectly.
I crossed the halfway point at about 1 hour 35 minutes and quickly caught up to Jim - my best friend for the rest of the race. We ran one in front of the other for the last 10 miles, switching every half mile who was leading.
The wind was so crazy and frustrating, but you had to work with it. Getting water was a fun task and most of it blew right into you before you could get much down. There were times you felt you were running in place or sideways and (as with any marathon) times when you wanted to give up. BUT you keep going because you believe in yourself, you see your family cheering for you, you think of all the hard training you've done, you envision yourself crossing the finish line, and you focus on each step and each mile until you make it. During the last mile I knew I could pull off a sub 3:20, so I gave it everything I had and crossed the finish line in 3 hours 19 minutes 51 seconds - 1st female overall!
My tips for running with the wind:
- Run by effort and not by pace (I did not look at my watch during the last 10 miles except for each mile split when my watch beeped)
- Find someone or a group of people to run with so you can alternate breaking the wind for each other.
- Try to run in a sheltered area such as a place with lots of trees.
- Wear tighter fitting clothing so it does not blow around.
- If it's cold, wear extra clothing due to the wind chill and try to run out into the wind and back with the tail wind in effort to stay warm.
- It it's hot, try to run out with the tail wind and back with the head wind as it will cool you off.
- Wear chapstick and body glide to lubricate since your skin will dry out quickly.
- If it's dry and hasn't rained recently, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from dirt or debris that may fly up (especially from cars driving by and on dirt roads)
- Turn your head to the side to breathe if it's too hard facing forward with the wind in your face.
- Consider staying inside on the treadmill if there's lots of traffic (it can be hard to control your body and cars may swerve) or if it's raining/snowing as it can be blinding and feel like ice pellets hitting you.
It's still windy today, but I won't be out there for a few days. Time to recover, enjoy the rest of fall, and dream about plans for next year!