by Michael Arnstein

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NJ Marathon 2010 Win!

The NJ Marathon has 3 races combined in one. A marathon, 1/2 marathon and marathon rely. Total there are over 10,000. runners! This is a big crowd!

The scene at the start is massive, it’s like a major city marathon with a sea of people. With so many runners it’s very exciting to do well. Yet since they don’t offer prize money no super elite professional runners usually do it. It’s still competitive and usually the winner has to run close to 2:30 to win. I grew up in NJ and have run this race many times over the last 15 years, so it has some good personal significance to me. Years ago I could never have imagined placing top 3! But since taking up my super natural diet 2 1/2 years ago (which I call Fruitarianism) I’ve continued to set new records and reach new levels of fitness like never before. Last year I ran the NJ marathon and won it! It was a thrilling accomplishment and very rewarding since the race has so much significance to me on a personal level. This year I was invited back by the race organizers as the defending champion. I couldn’t resist to go for a try at another win. I was especially excited about the race organizers assigning my race number: Number 1 🙂 (the first time I’ve had the number 1!) For the last 2-3 months I’ve been racing every weekend nonstop. I am really testing my diet to see how well it can hold me together under huge loads in training and racing. Going into this race I didn’t tapper or rest up much at all. So far so good, so I just keep pushing and testing new limits! So leading up to this marathon I kept up my weekly mileage over 130 miles with weeks hitting 160 miles! The last 3 weekend races being: USA National Championship 100km ultra marathon 7:27 (5th place) Boston Marathon: 2:28.29 (56th place) 30th running of the historic Sybil Ludington 50km Ultra marathon: 3:30 (1st place) and now the NJ marathon! And keep in mind mid week between all these events I’m running crazy mileage days of 20-30 miles or more back to back days! Insane right – I gotta pinch myself I can’t believe it either I wanted to try and go after another sub 2:30 marathon in NJ. Even with no tapper and running 20-30 miles a day going into this race, I figured I had a shot if I was having an ‘on’ day. I took it easy 2 days before this race to try to rest up, figuring I should back off from heavy daily miles, yet I woke up feeling kind of stale on race morning. When you run a lot your body gets really strong, it almost wants the daily routine and workload. I find now when I back off from heavy training I get kind of fatigued if that makes any sense. But the stale feeling in the legs race morning wasn’t the big issue, the biggest issue was the record temperatures for the day…upper 80’s, full sun and high humidity of 80-90%! The weather was 85% humidity with temps in the mid 70’s at the start! I haven’t run in temps over 60F since last summer, so I knew this was going to a good test of how my body could perform with no heat acclimatization. I have a theory that if you are really lean with low body fat that you can cool very fast, much faster than someone who has greater body fat even with heat acclimatization. I guess I was going to find out today if my theory is right! The gun goes off and it’s hot! I am running with 2 other guys and we are all running pretty solid. I figured I was not going to get an easy win, and the race was on! We hit the first few miles in 5:40’s 5:50’s and then settle down to a more conservative pace of about 6:00 or just below. I think we were all worried about the heat after we saw that running 5:55 was pretty damn hard. I hit every water station and really drank a lot, almost too much I thought, the water was sloshing around in my gut as I was taking in 2-3 full cups at each mile aid station. I probably drank over 2 gallons of water during the race and didn’t hit the bathroom once, wow! At the 1/2 mark I was really feeling lethargic and I thought I wasn’t going to have a good day. The 2 guys I had been running with were pushing each other and had about a 20 second lead on me. I tried to focus on running my own race and run ‘within’ myself. It was getting really hot and had moments of a feverish feeling from the heat. I was dumping water on my head like I was in a shower, pretty epic conditions to run a marathon, probably the hottest I’ve ever run one in. I was fueling with raw honey, and kind of regret it at this point. The stuff burns too fast and the ups and downs are hell to deal with, I really need to figure out a better nutritional plan during my races. It’s so hard to work out support in a race without a ‘crew’ and when you are running really fast, you almost can’t rely on anyone unless they can run really fast to help you out…it’s a major issue that I haven’t really figured out how to deal with. I do NOT recommend fueling with honey anymore, it is not optimal over other things that I have now tried. If I had a crew to support me I would go with fresh cold OJ, and/or fresh dates blended with fresh young coconut water. Keeping this stuff refrigerated and available very often during a full effort marathon is almost impossible. I’m pretty frustrated with this situation to be honest. I do not have the best answers for how to fuel well if you want to maintain what I call a fruitarian diet during a major race. Anyway, so about mile 14 I finally get in a groove, which was very welcomed! You never know when you are going to come back to life, so it’s never worth throwing in the towel in a race, you gotta keep the faith that your body will come back! I hadn’t felt particularly fresh ever during the first half of the race, but now at mile 13.5/14 I was getting some rythem and the pace felt really easy. So I start to really flow and find a good groove, with ‘patience’ being the focus in my mind. About the same time the 2 guys in front of me absolutely implode and I fly by them. (these poor guys later end up running the 2nd half of the marathon 15-20min slower than the first half!) So now I’m in the lead and the crowd is giving me a lot of support, chanting ‘USA’ and ‘you look awesome’ – this stuff keeps you going! 😉 I never like to turn around and see who is behind me when I race. I kind of make it a rule not to look behind me until a mile or less to the finish line. If I get too concerned with who is behind you, you don’t focus on the guy who is running inside of you! I have to focus on ME! Run hard, run within yourself and run smart! But one of the downsides to never turning around to see where the competition is, you never know if you are destroying the rest of the field … in some cases you end up running a hell of a lot harder than you need to! lol! But when you run for the purity of the sport you are never really racing anyone but yourself, and I’ve never felt good about backing off in a race if I have an easy win on hand. Even if you win, you never win if you don’t cross the line and say to yourself, ‘I gave it a great effort, I did my best, I wasn’t a lazy ass!’ It seems that my very low body fat and lean fruitarian diet does very well in the heat, even when you have no heat training. I cruised to victory in 2:37, about 7 min slower than what I had thought I would run had the temps been cooler and more normal for this time of year (50’F would have been seasonal, not 85-90!F). The temps were 83-85F the last couple of miles (I looked up the temp history for the day when I got home. It topped out at 89F later in the day for those poor 4-5 hour marathoners!) I crossed the line with a good deal left in the tank (ran the last mile in about 5:30). It is AWESOME to run the last mile of a marathon with so much power! It was also amazing to have my first helicoper escort overhead. There was a news helicopter, a lead truck and a police motorcycle escort to the finish – oh boy ego boost! The 2nd place guy didn’t come in until 2hours and 50minutes! From the other top 10 finishers that I spoke to, they all said they ran about 15-20min slower than normal. I was only off about 7 minutes. Chalk up another win for a lean mean natural diet! So another great day, another weekend marathon or ultra in a row month after month, and more fuel for the fire that my radical diet produces radical results! What will I do next weekend? Well right now it’s off to squeeze some more oranges! Check out the GPS data on my race here:


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