Well, I did it.
I completed my very first half marathon and I didn’t even break my diet! It may seem like a small achievement to some, but for me, this is just a stepping stone on my journey to a healthier and more active self.
As a kid I watched my father run marathons. We would have spaghetti the night before, he would wake up early and run 26.2 miles around Honolulu, and we would meet him at the finish line. We would tease him. “Daddy, what took so long? I saw blind men and children cross the finish line before you.” He would silently curse us, wobble to the car, and then go home. One year he even managed to throw me a birthday party with 8 other 8 year old girls after he ran the marathon. He would later tell me “you’ve never done one” and smugly smile to himself.
I made it a bucket list item
I was supposed to do one on my 25th birthday. Supposed to. Let’s just say, that when I do the Honolulu Marathon this December (5 days before my birthday) that I am just shy of 10 years late on crossing that off my bucket list. Well… if I cross the finish line.
I wanted to see what I would be in for. At least slightly. So I signed up for the Hapalua and the Hibiscus Half Marathons. This way I could pretty much see the entire Honolulu Marathon so I know how to prep for it. Walking 13.1 miles isn’t a huge deal for me. My mom is from Tokyo, I pretty much was born speed walking. But it really helps to know the course. Here’s the thing though. I am on a weight management program with OSR Weight Management called Ideal Protein. It is carb restrictive so I wondered, “How am I supposed to carbo-load?”
So I did my research on carbo-loading. Believe it or not, carbo-loading is not recommended for all races but mostly just endurance events that are longer than 90 minutes according to the Mayo Clinic. The purpose of the carbo-loading is to ensure you the energy to complete the endurance event with less fatigue. Carbohydrates break down into sugars that then enter your bloodstream for energy and any extra are stored in your muscles as glycogen which provides your reserve energy source.
Now, I got to be honest. I was really freaked out about having to carbo-load before having to do this half marathon. I am currently with OSR Weight Management doing Ideal Protein as my weight loss and fitness journey and this lifestyle is pretty carb restrictive. I was not sure how I felt about having to deviate from my lifestyle change. Eat carbs? But then I would be kicked out of ketosis! How much weight was I going to gain? How will my body react to the carbs? Maybe I can do this without carbo-loading.
Time for more research
What I found out was that a lot of people carbo load incorrectly. They skip the carb depletion stage and go straight to loading. Some people carbo load for too long. Some people add the wrong carbs and just binge and indulge on extra calories. I found out you are ideally supposed to just replace calories that you normally eat with carbs instead. Some people skip the last load. And others (like me) freak out about the weight gain from the carbs since it leads to water retention.
In the end, this is what it came down to for me. I know my body. I am very in tune with how my body responds to different food groups. I know how my body handles a workout. I know how much I am capable of on my current diet. I know my body. I also trust my support system at OSR Weight Management and we discussed my option of choosing not to carbo load before the race. We discussed my options. Either I add extra packets of Ideal Protein foods or I just add more protein to my meals. I chose the latter. I love food.
The race was on a Sunday so I started adding more protein to my diet on Thursday. Not a whole heck of a lot more. I mean just 6-8 oz more spread out through the day. This meant I added an extra egg to my breakfast. Added chicken or ham to my salad or lunch. And had a slightly larger cut of steak or more tofu at dinner. This way when I completed my workouts throughout the day I did not feel heavy or full and could still train for the race. I already drink alkalinized water and measure my hydration pretty well but I did add an extra 16 oz of water spread throughout the day so I would not feel “sloshy”. And the one thing “new” that I added to my diet based on the suggestion of the dietician with OSR Weight Management was that I added branched-chain amino acids to aid in the recovery process after my last few training sessions. I really feel that this part was integral to my after race recovery.
On Sunday morning, I woke up and stretched and about an hour before the race I had 2 boiled eggs. I started the race with my sister who would quickly leave me to run it. I felt the momentum of all the other runners and decided I would run the first mile of my life (on pavement). I could not find that 1-mile marker but was determined to run a mile. And then I saw it. The 2-mile marker. I walked after that. But I made sure to have a few sips of water at every hydration station. At mile 7 I ate an Ideal Protein Cookie Dough Swirl Bar as my “energy replenishment”.
I chose this instead of the gels that are really popular because I did not train with the gels and did not want to get “runners trots.” And that was all I ate for the race. I caught a glimpse of that Finish Line and ended up sprinting the last quarter mile for a fun finish just over 3 hours. After that, I proceeded to the post-race festivities where everyone was grabbing malasadas, bananas, and cold-pressed juices to replace all the sugars they had just depleted. I walked the half marathon so I did not really feel like I exerted all that much energy to reward myself with malasadas. So I opted for a drink of branched chain amino acids and maybe 3-4 hours later I was hungry for an Ideal Protein Vanilla Crispy Square (and coffee).
Later in that day, I massaged my sister who ran the Hapalua in less than 2 hours (a “sub-2” if you speak race) and had my parents over for dinner. I did treat myself to a fattier and larger cut of meat that night. But I continued to hydrate and I did not eat any carbs. I just did not feel that I needed them at any point in my training. I am happy to say that my legs were a little stiff the next day but I otherwise felt great and I still lost weight even though I was eating more food than usual. OSR Weight Management even has a body composition scale that showed me that my weight was done, muscle mass mostly maintained, and my hydration was up. So, all in all, I did well.
My results are not typical but you CAN achieve your goals too
I have been working with OSR Weight Management on the Ideal Protein method of weight loss for 10-11 months and my body is really accustomed to the protocol. As I have said before I am also very in tuned with my body and the types of workout I was preparing for. If you are planning on training for your first endurance event of any kind consult with your physician and personal trainers before so that you are well informed of what you may need to work on and what is realistic for you. But most of all, listen to your body and don’t push yourself. But if you do, Oahu Spine and Rehab can help you.
I wish you all luck and I hope to see you all on the course and at the finish line.