One more week to go!!!
I started training at the beginning of July, but my journey to 26.2 started just over two years ago. On September 30, 2014, I began thinking about whether I wanted to run a marathon, what it would involve, and how I would handle the training and its impact on the rest of my life. By the end of 2014 I came up with a two-year plan to run higher mileage and improve in the half marathon distance in 2015, to build a foundation for running a full marathon in 2016. And now I have just five short, easy runs left before standing at the starting line of my first full marathon.
In that September 2014 post, this is how I imagined it would be to run a marathon: “I picture myself out there on the course, four hours in, in hot and humid temps, with crippling nausea (see, I’m already imagining the worst). Is my brain strong enough to make my body push on? I don’t know.” That sounds awful! Two years later I can say that if that’s how I think the marathon will be, I absolutely wouldn’t want to do it! My mental picture now is much more positive–I’m envisioning myself calm, strong, and having a good experience. And yet.
I think it was Tina Muir who said that running a race is like standing in front of a firing squad. You know it’s going to hurt, but you don’t know when and you don’t know exactly how. Coach Melissa has warned me again and again that it won’t be easy, that it will be hard, but that my training will help me push through. I believe her. Training has been hard, and I’ve pushed through. I know it’s going to be hard and things will happen that I’m not expecting, but I believe I can push through the dark periods and make it a good race.
The beginning of this past week I felt the same tiredness, aches and pains, and feelings of taper blah as I had the previous week, but by the end of the week I felt much less tired and pretty much back to normal. What a great feeling!
I’m the queen of freaking out before a race, but I’m surprisingly calm and am hoping that will carry through this week. I feel more prepared and confident and less anxious going into this race than in any other. I just feel really good about the race and am genuinely curious and excited to see how I’ll do.
I’ve also tried to keep from overthinking things and keep my mind off the race and on lighthearted things. I’m reading a funny book, A Man Called Ove, and watching lots of Impractical Jokers, which always makes me laugh. I did give in and watch a few old horror movies, because it’s hard for me to resist them. Nightmare on Elm Street was much worse than I remember it being, but The Lost Boys was as awesome as I remember! That was one of my favorite movies that I watched about 100 times, and it’s funny how I still remembered every song and a lot of lines word for word. I also watched a newer scary movie–It Follows–that was okay and not really scary. I’ll try to stay away from really scary movies because it’s hard for me to stop thinking about them.
The other thing keeping me in good, positive spirits is thinking about after the race. The weekend after the race we’ll be having a party, the weekend after that Dave and I will be going on a short weekend trip to Cleveland to see a band, and the following weekend is Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season. Lots of good things on the horizon!
Later this week I’ll do a post of running stats from this training cycle–always exciting to see those numbers!–and my race strategy.
Here’s how last week went down.
Week at a Glance
- Training mode: Training for small, local, rails-to-trails Indiana Veteran’s Marathon near Pittsburgh on November 6 using a version of the Hanson’s Marathon Method beginner plan customized by a Hanson’s coach
- Days running: 6
- Miles this week: 31
- Time running: 6:33
- Miles this training cycle: 558.28
- Miles this month: 172.5
- Miles this year: 1,276.32
Easy run: 4 miles (54 degrees)
This was another run that almost didn’t happen. I woke up really tired and not wanting to run. As I started getting dressed, I saw an email Coach Melissa had sent. She linked to this article about exercises to develop mental toughness. The very first one was to focus on positive thinking when you don’t feel like going for a run. So I left the house saying to myself over and over how excited I was to run. It worked! My legs were tired and dead, but from a mental standpoint I enjoyed the run.
Tempo run: 8 miles (37 degrees)
I was really excited about this run. It was my last tempo run at marathon pace, I’d be sharing the miles with Joanna, and it was going to be very cold. Unfortunately, because I was so excited, I woke up at 2:30 a.m. and couldn’t fall back asleep. Ugh!
I was expecting this run to be easy since it was only 6 miles and I’d recently done a half marathon at marathon pace and it felt easy. But it wasn’t easy! About halfway through I started to feel really irritated that the pace wasn’t easy, and I’d probably have stopped for a walk break if I hadn’t been running with Joanna. I didn’t say anything so we just continued on, and before I knew it the 6 miles were done, all right on pace, with the last one slightly faster as usual. I’m so grateful to have friends to run with. It really does help with the tough runs, the long runs, the motivation to get out and run, and the miles go by more quickly and easily.
And with 1 mile each for warm-up and cool-down, my last something-of-substance (SOS) run of training was done!
Later, Coach Melissa made me feel better by saying that we always expect this last workout to be a walk in the park, but it’s still a workout on tired legs so usually isn’t very easy.
Recovery run: 3 miles (48 degrees)
And then my right knee starting hurting on this run. I think I’ve had knee pain like once in the last four years of running, so I was irritated. And tired. Basically, I felt broken and tired and had a few “How am I going to run a marathon when I feel like this?!” moments in the day.
In the evening I foam rolled and stretched. I admit I haven’t been as good with foam rolling and stretching in this training cycle as I have in the past even though I know how much it helps me.
Easy run: 4 miles (43 degrees)
As soon as my alarm went off, I grabbed my phone and checked the 10-day forecast because race day was finally in the forecast. I was pretty happy with what I saw–partly cloudy and a high of 53. Of course that can change, but it’s a great feeling to see a perfect weather day like that in the forecast.
More good news: My knee pain was gone! Okay body, enough with the tricks! I guess the foam rolling really helped, so I’m determined to do it daily until the race. And…I wasn’t super tired! This is the first time I haven’t felt really tired on a run in forever. It felt like walking into the sunlight after being in a dark cave for a long time. Amazing!
Long run: 8 miles (54 degrees)
This was my last long run of the training cycle, and at 8 miles it wasn’t very long. In the Halloween spirit, I decided to run on the haunted trail in North Park–an abandoned road rumored to be haunted. (Pittsburghers: This is Irwin Road, the first left after you pass spillway parking lot.) Last year we walked Django on it and he whined a lot and didn’t want to continue on, which freaked me out and left me unsure if I’d run on it alone. This year I decided to chance it. It was sunny, rapidly warming up, and not very scary. But the trail was muddy, with large rocks hidden by fallen leaves. I was worried about twisting an ankle, so I headed back to do the loop around the lake instead. I was to take this run slowly and not go faster than 30 seconds/mile slower than marathon pace. Once I started on the loop, on a real road instead of trail, it was really hard to go slow. My legs felt fresh and wanted to go. I ended the fun feeling great and happy that I had a problem going slowly. I hope that’s how I’ll feel on race day!
In the afternoon Dave, Django, and I went to my family’s Halloween party, our biggest family event of the year. They go nuts with the decorations, but this year was scaled back. Still pretty cool though! And the weather was sunny, warm, and just gorgeous. We all got a laugh when a little girl who was trick-or-treating came up to see Django and asked, “Is that…? Is that…? Is that a dog???” Even the parents thought he was a deer at first in the darkness.
Recovery run: 4 miles (66 degrees)
It was a heat wave for this run, but I didn’t mind. Again my legs felt fresh, and I had trouble going slowly.
It was a gorgeous day again, so we took Django to the park early in the afternoon. He was excited to pee on piles of leaves and kick them everywhere, as usual. It rained the rest of the day, so we relaxed while watching movies–The Hills Have Eyes 2 and Orphan, which we’d seen before but I’d somehow managed to completely forget the big surprise. I love all the movies on near Halloween!
I’ll be back later in the week with training stats and final thoughts before the race.