Don’t pass out. Don’t freak out. Keep calm. Keep calm and run a freakin’ marathon!
I can’t believe 18 weeks have already passed. I began this journey on a rainy morning, June 10, 2013…and it all culminates at the finish line of the Chicago Marathon. God willing, I’ll get there.
Marathon week has arrived. Technically. And I’m going through the motions of the taper. I’m retaining water, which is messing with my head. I’m running fewer miles…which is messing with my body. And I’m a basket case of emotions, which is messing with my friends, family, and co-workers.
But it’s here. At last.
On June 10th…I woke up at 3:30 a.m. to eat something small, drink water, get dressed, and head out to run. It was raining. Pouring, in fact. But no one guarantees perfect weather on race day. So, without even blinking, I grabbed a hat, got my reflective gear flashing, and went to head out the door. Except I was greeted with a message from my roommate, which, to this day, still hangs on the back of the front door. She was in her room, still asleep, but this was how she was showing her support…and every morning from that day when I struck out for 5 miles easy (which I did with hills, mind you!), I took everything on this little sign in…and used it as a mantra:
And with early morning runs every week, early morning runs every weekend, some fun runs, some races, some mile sprints, speed work, pacing work, and just finding out more about what I can and can’t do…pushing through it all…I arrive…at race week.
Sunday, October 13, 2013 marks the date for the Chicago Marathon. My first 26.2 miles. My first full marathon. A part of me feels so ready. But a bigger part of me is doubting my abilities, not wanting to believe all the hard work I put in through training for 4 months was good enough. Or, that I’m just not ready. This is normal. And I know…deep in my heart…I’m ready.
I. AM. READY.
So…let’s see how this final week of training leading up to race day went, shall we?
Sunday was a rainy, rainy, rainy morning. Sunday is a rest day, but I often go for another run, keeping pace easy and distance minimal. I don’t want to over train, but I go stir crazy at times. I had told the roomie that since I was in taper, I would simply do 5 short miles…at the gym if the weather was bad. Well, it was raining…I’ve run in the pouring rain before. I could have gone to the gym…sure…but the very thought of hopping on a treadmill was unappetizing. For real. So, I laced up my old Nike running shoes, put on my reflective gear, slapped on a hat, and went out for a run. What I didn’t know (because I don’t have cable nor do I watch television) was that we had flooding in our area. This should have been apparent in the first mile when I was warming up and kept splashing in pretty deep puddles. But as I hit the roads, nothing prepared me for the ankle deep water I ended up trudging through. I turned around and went the other way, only to be greeted with the same situation that way too. Flooding…does not make for good running. But, I laughed. I was having a good time. The puddles were everywhere…some ankle deep without me being able to tell…and every time I hit one…it just made me smile. I mean…what can you do? I logged my miles, went home, stuffed my shoes with newspaper, and went to take a shower and get dried off. The rain stopped later in the morning. Go figure. It was a good way to start the week though…which I needed as I continued to struggle with my taper demons.
Monday morning greeted me with 4 miles. I was supposed to do 4 miles at marathon pace…but I decided to move my speed work up a day. It was my last day of speed work, and my schedule was going to be pretty insane this week. Doing it on Monday was the best way to do it. I did an easy warm up of 1/2 mile at my long slow distance pace. Then it was 1 x 4800 meters (3 miles) at marathon pace. Followed that up with 1/2 mile at my long slow distance pace for a cool down. My body is playing tricks on me…with the water retention and all. The run felt good. And I still think I need to push myself a bit more on my speed work, but this was a good run. I actually enjoyed my speed work for once. And, naturally, being Monday…the Daily Double struck. I headed to my running store for the running group that evening. They decided to do the Pumpkin Run…so we went on a run past the house in the Highlands with all the pumpkins…then continued on to Cherokee Park. We were to run the loop backwards…but Patrick (it’s always Patrick said we would run the loop regular, make a full loop and then head back. Meaning…Dog Hill…TWICE! The man is insane…and yet I somehow I always get suckered into doing it. It was challenging…and I like challenging. After the morning speed work, I didn’t think my legs would do well on the hills on the loop, or the speed that Patrick was pushing. I was behind the two others who actually did run the loop, but I was feeling good. I kept pushing…and I caught up on Eastern Parkway. It was a good feeling. And I really needed that. Granted, it was a bit disrespectful of the taper…and ended up being 5.4 additional miles that day…but I was elated with how I managed to take those hills and maintain a great pace. I had a feeling my legs would feel it in the morning, however.
Tuesday morning greeted me with an early wake-up call and 45 degree weather. It was brisk and amazing outside. I was in my shorts and short sleeves and ready to take on the cooler weather. The training program called for 4 miles at marathon pace today. So, I went and rocked it out. In fact, I took these 4 miles faster than my estimated marathon pace. The legs weren’t even feeling the two hard runs from the day before. They were ready and raring and just enjoying hitting the pavement that morning. I managed beautiful negative splits. And then…my last day at the gym this week. Since it is Tuesday, I hit up the Arc Trainer – Program 1 – Level 5 for 45 minutes and churned out a fantastic 2.8 miles. I was having a great work out day!! Seriously. After the Arc Trainer…I went over to the rowing machine to get that full-body cross-training effect. I have a love/hate relationship with this machine, but I managed 1.18 miles in 10 minutes, which is pretty good for me. After that, downstairs I went for some strength training before calling it a day and heading to work.
Wednesday was my last run before the taper really hit with some down time. The plan called for another 4 miles at marathon pace. Which…I did get out and do, once again, in the dark and cool morning. I even managed some negative splits. I honestly didn’t feel like I was pushing too hard or struggling for that next mile, which is only a good thing. My pace was good, my breathing was good, and my legs were starting to feel the effects of less mileage. They weren’t as tired or as heavy. And it just felt good out there running. I finished in amazing time and feeling strong and good. But really dreading the days ahead. Me going without running is like…being without air. I don’t cope well. So, watch out world…I’m tapering…big time.
Thursday morning was rough. I got up later, because the body needs rest on rest days and as tempting as it was to get up at normal time and go for one of my brisk walks…I need to respect these important days of rest and recovery. Because that’s what my body needs to do in preparation for Sunday. This doesn’t mean that I just sat around all day. I made a healthy breakfast that morning. I took a package down to the car. I walked around Harvest Homecoming in New Albany twice that day. Just to not be sitting at my desk the entire time. I stretched. I foam rolled. I made sure I was taking in good carbs, good protein, and healthy fats…topping off my tanks. I was taking care of me and getting my body ready. And, it was hard…and I might have whined a couple of times…but I soldiered through. A day of rest…it was tough. But I got there.
Friday was the second day of complete rest. I, once again, let my body rest in the morning, sleeping in and setting my alarm for much later than I would normally wake up. I had a few things I needed to go get at the grocery store that morning, and although it is just a mile and a half up the street…I didn’t walk. I drove. I didn’t skim the aisles, but went immediately to what it was that I needed. I went home. I baked some treats for Chicago. I made breakfast at the same time. I enjoyed a protein-filled breakfast with fruit on the side and a fantastic caramelized apple parfait with some Greek yogurt. Yummy! I went to work. I enjoyed easy strolls through Harvest Homecoming once again. I moved around from my desk as much as I could manage with my work load. I left work and came home to pack. I didn’t pack…because when I’m nervous I find things to distract me…like hand washing clothes. I know…I’m weird. Jenn arrived from Ohio…and she and Cathy put me on task to pack…so I did. Eventually. Then we headed out to dinner. Jenn chose Dakshin, an amazing Indian restaurant in Louisville. I had the Dal Tadke Wali, which is home style yellow lentils tempered with Indian spices. It was SO good. And vegan. And that meant…good and safe. I had it over delicious rice. Carbs. Protein. Topping off those tanks properly. We treated ourselves to Comfy Cow afterwards. Then it was home to watch Spirit of the Marathon and Marathon Thoughts…then getting some much needed sleep.
Saturday…it’s here. The day before my first marathon. And I’m a mixed bag of emotions. I got up at 4 a.m. to do my shakeout run. And the rest days paid off. My legs feel good and strong and amazing. I didn’t push my pace. Didn’t push anything. Now was not the time to try to hit a best time. Now was the time to just let my legs do what they wanted to. And every moment of this run felt good. I enjoyed it…taking in the still, dark morning. It was in the low 50s too, which helped make it feel even more effortless. Temperatures on race morning in Chicago will be around 48 degrees. I can’t wait. I’m feeling amazing…which is making me feel better about a lot of things. So, out for a 3 mile easy run…and now I’m going to make up breakfast so we can pile in the car and make the trek to Chicago. Going to hit up the expo and meet up with Heather and have a good time.
So…this has been a physically and mentally challenging week. But I have made it through the taper and on Sunday, I will get to see if taper madness really does translate into taper magic. Because…I have not been a happy person this week. Running shorter mileage…not running…it’s been driving me insane.
Not to mention, I’m an emotional wreck as it is. I’ve been having moments of complete panic and what I call…race panic. I have these freak-out moments and I just have to remind myself to breathe. Just breathe. And I know I can do this. I’ve put in a lot of long hours on the road. I’ve put in so much time, so much effort, and I know I have a lot of people cheering for me…all over the country and the world. And that’s pretty awesome, yes?
So…there it is. 18 weeks of long, hard training…18 weeks…and I finally arrive at the place I’ve been training for. When I started this journey it felt so far away. The race is now…tomorrow.
I hope I’m ready.
Chicago…here we go…