A couple weeks ago I completed the Portland, Maine Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon and had a blast! I have now ran this Half marathon three times, but this was the first time in a couple years. I earned a half marathon PR and actually shaved more than 20 minutes off my previous race time. If you’re looking to run this specific race, I’m recapping it today. If you’re prepping for a different half marathon, I share helpful info on carbs, supplements and more below. Also check out this blog post with my biggest tips on completing for a half marathon!
Let’s dive in..
PRE RACE DAY
The half marathon takes place in the Old Port of Portland, Maine which is S and I’s favorite place in New England. It’s the most gorgeous coast-lined city with historic cobblestone roads. I mea, look at the pic to the right! If you’re visiting, I have a Portland, Maine travel guide!
For my half marathon this year, S and I took Friday off to spend the day together in Portland. When we arrived, we had lunch at the Corner Room to get some carbs into my system for my race day energy. After a day exploring and relaxing around the Old Port, we had dinner at Scales. I stuck to lean protein [scallops] and non-fibrous veggies. I avoided dairy, alcohol and fats as all three can effect your running performance.
If you’re exploring a city before race day, make sure to wear super comfy, broken in sneakers to avoid stressing your legs or feet before your race.
With the race starting at 7AM, we got up at 5AM to get my pre-race breakfast. Stick to what you trained with! Before long runs I always have: a double espresso over ice with a splash of almond milk, water [knowing I had enough time to use the bathroom pre-race] and half a bagel. From there, I stretched and headed off to the starting line!
The starting point of the race changed locations this year. If you’re familiar with Portland, the race used to start on Commercial Street, but this year started on Spring Street. So we went from a huge, wide street by the ocean with plenty of space to an itty bitty road in the city made for buggies and horses lol. All that to say, once you pass the official starting line, you get some personal space.
Be prepared for hills! I remember my first year I wasn’t prepared for this hilly running route and of course as you become an experienced runner, you learn that the status of the course shapes your training plan. The hills roll in at the beginning of the race and then miles 10-11 [right after finishing the four mile Back Bay loop].
The weather was perfection so we got lucky! Ideal temperatures, low humidity, very light breeze at times and no rain. With the race starting at 7AM, earlier than other years I’ve ran this, I didn’t feel the heat until mile 11.
My favorite part of the course is the four mile ocean view loop around Back Bay and the most stunning view of downtown Portland. This was my college/post-college running route. It’s where I found my love for running. It’s where I found relief in the the hardest year of my life. It’s where I found my life coping mechanism. I hadn’t run this route in over five years. During my half marathon this year, I got choked up once I entered the trail. I reflected on the dark hole I was then – going through my parents divorce, a loss of a parent, losing a loved one to cancer, the death of my family dog, struggling with finding a job I loved – and where I am now. Running has that effect on ya. All the emotions come up when you’re working that hard and clearing your head, especially on the same ground you did so many years ago. Running and S are my constants.
I felt great all the way through the race, but made myself take my first supplement to restore my carbs at mile 6 so I took three of these supplement bloks. Easily the best tasting supplement out there. They taste like gummies.
At mile 10, I hit my glycogen depletion wall and took this all natural chia gu. I had questions on how I like these. I think they give me just as much energy as traditional gummy or gu supplements, but are all natural. The consistency makes me gag, just as you’d expect with a gu.
I stored the bloks in the thigh pocket of my favorite running leggings and the bloks in the back zippered pocket, knowing I’d eat that later in the race.
Most supplements need to be washed down with water to be easy on your belly, so I always aligned when I took them with a water station. I would not stop. I’d just start chewing them down, grab a cup of water and run with it until I was done.
I chat more about supplements and when/why to take them in this blog post.
I want to explain what I meant earlier when I said I hit my “glycogen depletion wall”. When you eat carbohydrates, they are stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver. Glycogen is your body’s most easily-accessible form of energy and once depleted you hit “the wall”.
Why? Because your body turns to the next source of energy, which is fat.
Burning fat sounds great, right? Well, not on race day because burning fat is not efficient, which means your body has to work harder to convert it into fuel and ultimately you run slower.
To prevent against ‘the wall’ or push it out as long as you can, you ‘carb load’ the day before. Carb loading the day before is also crucial for full or half marathons. This is not needed for runs under 90 minutes like 5Ks or 10Ks.
For my body, I eat some carbs at lunch the day before. I reach for foods like sweet potato, brown rice or bread and that’s my fuel for my race the next day. I do not gorge myself on a full Italian meal of pasta and bread galore like the movies portray. I just have a normal serving of carbs 🙂 and make sure to pair it with lean protein and veggies of course.
I prefer to carb load at lunch, rather than dinner because it gives me enough time to digest. You never want to wake up with a stomach full of lead which can easily happen if you load up at dinner.
At dinner I eat lean protein and skip anything with fiber, dairy, alcohol or high fats. All of those things can either make you need to use the rest room during your run or upset your belly. That’s just what works for me!
Even with carb loading, you can easily hit the ‘the wall’ during your race and you want to be prepared to get out of it which is one of the reasons why you take supplements. More on them here!
HALF MARATHON RECAP
I’d say this was my very favorite half marathon to do because I not only was super diligent with my race training and didn’t miss a single mile, but also took my nutrition very seriously. I have specific macros that I’ve been following in order for me to now my protein to carb ratio for short or long runs.
If you’re thinking of signing up or a road race, DO IT! Whether starting with a 10k or half marathon, just log the miles, be conscious of how the food you eat makes you perform and have fun!
Let me know if you have any questions I can answer about running! Xo Mindy