Six years ago, I could barely cross a parking lot without breathing hard. Five years ago, I was making progress, and getting active, but running was the furthest thing in my mind. Four years ago, I attempted to run a mile, almost passed out and died at the end of it, didn’t run for 2 more months, but then later in the year tried it again and didn’t die quite as much. Then I ran a mile and a quarter. Then a mile and a half. Then, I banged out my first 5k on the treadmill and was elated! There was something to this running thing.
Three years ago, I kept working on upping my mileage and getting faster. I ran my first 5k road race a few days before I turned 30. I wasn’t the slowest person, like I had feared, but what really opened my eyes was the 60-some grey haired man who smoked my ass in the race. I could not catch him even if I tried. It wasn’t all downhill after age 30! Also, my goal was 30 minutes and I soundly thrashed that by coming in just under 28. That year, I ran my first 10k (goal time 1 hour, hit just under 57 minutes), ran my first marathon in the heat of the summer (goal 2:15, hit 2:16), and my first 5 mile turkey trot (goal was under 45, I came in under 46).
Two years ago, I trained really hard to get a sub-2 hour half marathon and got almost there, and then the week of got really sick and barely made it through with 2:19. That frustrated me and I took a little time to pout, but then decided to dip my toe into multisport to change it up. I tackled my first duathlon, my first sprint tri, and my first olympic distance (which just about killed me – 4 hours of constant movement? who does that? :D), and on a whim, decided to use that extra endurance I had built up and ran a fall half marathon (because, really, I was a runner at heart) and KILLED IT (2:08, 7 minute PR). I was totally high and in love with racing and running, but super burnt out from a long season, so I took some time off.
One year ago, Zliten really started to race with me (he did a few times in 2009 and about half in 2010 but mostly he was my… as they say, athletic supporter ;D). He got the bug HARD and we raced A LOT. We did a bunch of sprint triathlons, in which I slowly improved my time, and a bunch of races overall. I slowly moved from being a runner with a bike and a swim cap, to a more balanced triathlete. I still always sighed a relief when I got to the run leg though – it was my home, my comfort.
This year, as you know – the goal is 24 races in 12 months. My first metric century ride (first on accident, then on purpose). My first half ironman. #20 is in just four days, and it’s a doozy. Not the first time I’ve attempted it, but the first time I’ve arrived at the week before a marathon I planned to run happy, healthy, tapered, trained, and ready to go.
Yes, this is where I’m at now. No more freakouts. Let’s do this.
I realized that I had fallen a bit out of love with running this year. I felt betrayed and foresaken by my body and mind when I just couldn’t make it through the miles to marathon in February. I put in a lot of long, slow, draggy miles in the heat this year which I did not love. I love going fast, speedwork is my favorite session of the week, but to get to 70.3 with the training time I had – it was miles miles miles and no track Fridays. Then, after the half ironman, I was faced with what had become my least favorite leg of the triathlon, all the time, to get a crash course in marathon training.
I really pouted about it (and HURT for the first two weeks) until something happened. And it always happens when I run more. I get better, and faster. Running with the boys at lunch really helped me to remember what a sub-10 minute mile pace is and I look forward to trying to keep up with the front of the pack soon. All of a sudden I went from bagging runs because I could barely walk to being able to actually complete a week, as planned, feeling great, hitting paces, and remembering what it felt like to really train as a runner.
The last two weeks, every run has been great. 11-11:30 (marathon pace) is like second nature to me. Runs have brought me out of funks. Runs have made me sleep better (and skipping a run made me sleep crappy). Runs allowed me to take a break in the middle of a chaotic day and get out in the sunshine at lunch.
And now, in just 4 days, I’ll be doing a bit of running in San Antonio. No big deal, just 26.2 miles.
And here is the requisite goals section:
-No more freakouts. Remember that mental game I put on the shelf? Take just a little bit of that out of the box now, and shift my attitude to being excited! I’m doing my first marathon! This is a momentus occasion, not something of which to be terrified!
-Good food that comes from my kitchen. Lots of complex carbs and as much as I need to feel full. Limit sweets and treats. Starting Friday night, lots of simple carbs that go through me quick and top off my tank. Nothing spicy, greasy, fried, or low quality.
-Lots of sleep. Running when it doesn’t stress me out to run and in short durations. Running around MP. A walk tonight.
-Take time to envision what the perfect race would entail (not tied to time, but to feeling/effort)
-Have a “just as expected morning” involving all the normal pre-race stuff I’ve got down.
All-going-according to plan, plan:
Go out with the 5 hour pacer. By all means do not lose them (going slower or faster). Eat at mile 5, 10, and 15.
If I’m still feeling good, start decreasing pace slowly. Stay between 10:30-11:30. If I’m feeling rough, just keep hanging with the pacer. FIGHT. Either way, eat at mile 20. Remind myself that walking and slowing down isn’t going to make me feel better, and isn’t going to do me any good. There is keep this pace, or quit. Slow hurts worse (during and after).
If I’m feeling good, hang with or decrease pace to 10:30-11:30. If I’m feeling rough, just keep hanging with the pacer. Same as above. FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT. Think that this is a distance PR from here on out. Think that this is just the end of an ironman in a few years. Think that years ago I couldn’t run a mile. Think that 6 weeks ago, you completed your first half ironman. Think that 6 months ago, you completed your first metric century in about the same amount of hours. Decide what food will be mine when I make it over that line… FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!
If I’m feeling good, time to guts out whatever pace I think I can. If my brain is still functioning, try to do math and see what I can shoot for. If I’m close to 5, figure out what I have to do to get under it. If I’m close to another round number, see if I can get my feet going to hit that. If I’m feeling rough, try to continue to hang with the pacer, maybe they’ll give me a piggy back. Remind myself this is it. Season is over in about 30 mins. Fun runs from now until January and a lot of fuck all else. This is the one to waste my legs on. Remember when you weren’t sore after that 70.3? Let’s make up for that. Champagne is much better with a good time. My legs are still fine, as long as my brain is. The faster you get to the finish line, the faster it’s done. Walking is for suckers. FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT until the tape!
If something really effs up my day, drop all time considerations, flip the garmin to another screen that doesn’t have pace/time/etc, and realize – hey, first 26.2 miles! FIGHT when I can, just keep moving. If it takes me 7 hours, whatevs!
-Try not to get sent to the med tent looking like this.
-Remember that walking gets better after a bit, my legs won’t feel that way forever.
A+: under 5 hours
A: in the time allotted
It’s my first marathon, I’m allowed wishy-washy goals! I have a plan to execute on to get the time I’m looking for, but I’m not going to get upset with myself if I don’t hit it perfectly as long as I keep my head in the game and make the right decisions at the time.
Full disclosure, linking this video so I can get entered for a super sweet t-shirt giveaway, but it really reminded me to get going on a timely topic and post more positive pre-marathon thoughts than my wah-wah-wah-I’m-tired-and-scared post.
Well, next time we talk, I’ll be a marathoner. Wish me luck, success, good weather, good sleep, speedy legs, and most imporatantly, a brain that shows up that morning ready to FIGHT.