How I shaved 13 minutes off my marathon time…

….and My Story Runs On….

I’m on cloud 9 right now!  I can’t believe my time for the Sedona marathon.  I’m not a bragger and this is a bit uncomfortable for me but feeling pretty proud of myself considering the difficulty of this course! Not only did I PR (personal record) by 13 minutes but I also made it under 5 hours.

Honestly, I have no idea how I did it but here are a few things that I am sure contributed to my time:

  • My GPS battery died at mile 10.  I was already detached from the outcome of the race (as described in my last blog post) so it wasn’t a big deal.  I decided to proceed with how I felt (ironically something I’m working on so I think the Universe made that happen 😉 ).  At the 13.1 mile, I was at a 2:20 which is 5 minutes slower than my PR on a half marathon.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep that pace since I had a 4 mile 500 foot elevation climb (from 4000 to 4500 feet….see photo below).  I decided to do the best I can.  Those were the 4 most brutal miles of the course.  I continued to stay detached from my overall time until I hit mile 16….then I realized I only had 10 more miles to go and it was 3 hours into the race.  My normal training time is 5 mph so this is the point that I realized I could possible break the 5 hour mark.  This is the 2nd time I don’t wear my GPS on a race and I’ve PR’d both.  I’m liking the idea of being more in tune with my body and my energy level.  I may hide or not take my GPS on races going forward.
  • Thank God for ChiWalking.  At first I was concerned because it felt like I walked more than normal.  My goal is always energy conservation so I can finish strong.  When I was felt tired, I used my arms and had a great pace with my ChiWalking technique.  About 70% through the race, I decided to ChiWalk fast the runnable hills, use my ChiRunning technique on the non runnable part of the hill and then FLY on the downhills.  I passed quite a few people at the end with this strategy.  I’ll definetely be strategically incorporating ChiWalking in my endurance events more often. (The key is not to stroll though, it’s crucial to keep up a strong pace while walking or you can easily lose momentum).  I can’t express enough that there is no problem with walking in race events…as a matter of fact, based on this last experience, I’m sure I’ll be doing more of it!
  • Can’t give enough credit to the ChiRunning technique.  I’ve been doing a lot more trail running.  Not only has this improved my cardiovascular system but also my running form.  The great thing about ChiRunning is that it’s truly holistic, the more you focus on your form, the more it comes together.  I focus on my form as much as possible since the better I get at it, the easier it is for me to teach people as I feel it more and more in my body.  My time was another testament to our ChiRunning equation: Form First, Distance Second and Speed Happens.
  • I LOVE down hill running, especially on the road!  Oddly, this was the first time I couldn’t wait to get off the dirt trail and back on the road.  Mainly because I didn’t wear my trail shoes (had not been training on the road with my trail shoes and didn’t want to risk 15 miles in my trail shoes). I chose to wear my regular running shoes which were fine but it wasn’t as easy to “let go” on the downhill trail vs. the road on this course.
  • Last but not least, I used another great ChiRunning skill:  Y’Chi.  Long story short, this means aligning your eyes with your destination. I will have to do a blog post on this topic.  I’ll link you to a good article about it on the ChiRunning website though.  I’ve never focused on Y’Chi as much as I’ve done on this race and it really helped me conserve energy towards the end especially.  Click here to find out how to use this amazing tool (right past the bullet points on the page).

As much as I kept calling this another training run, I realize that I actually did race this event.  It really wasn’t until mile 16 that I realized I might be able to get under 5 hours and that it would be really close. At this point, I kept up on my hydration,  electrolytes and nutrition, got focused and kicked some ass!  Thanks to my friend Vicki who met me at mile 25 and ran that last mile with me which would’ve been way longer without her. 😉

I seriously had no idea that I would shave 13 minutes off my marathon time on this race...have you ever surprised yourself?  What helped you reach a goal you weren’t expecting?

From My Running Story to Yours….

(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

0 thoughts on “How I shaved 13 minutes off my marathon time…

  1. Outstanding run Lisa! You are doing all the right things to not only improve but enjoy your runs…whether they are timed or not. WTG my friend 🙂

  2. Interesting! I’ve been using y’chi in my running long before I found out from Dreyer’s book that it had a name. It’s a discipline that is on the mental not the physical side of running. When my brain tells my legs that they are tired and must relax, I play “seek and destroy” with a distant object and transfer all my mental power of concentration from my legs to that object. We humans use less than 10% of our maximum physical power most of the time, since our mental aspect is what holds us back. When we let the power of concentration take over, we divert some of this mental holdback. Works remarkably well, but I don’t recommend on technical trails.

  3. Congratulations; that’s fantastic! We seem to have a similar race pace, so this was extra inspiring for me – I have goals to shave time off my half and full marathons this year. Keep up the great work!

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