Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Marathon Prep

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
~Philipians 4:13~

I am here. Week 26/26. This is the week before I run a full marathon. I've trained for 25 weeks. 25! Looking back at my summer, every weekend involved finding a way to work in a long run - wherever I was - Montana, Phillips, Oshkosh... it didn't matter, but I had my running shoes and I ran. This is the hardest things I have trained for. Running is hard for me, and the training really took a lot of time. But I knew that going in, and was determined to make it happen. Once I cross that finish line on Saturday, I'll be able to cross it off my list.

Right now I'm reading about how to prepare the week before, and one of the things that keeps coming up is to prepare mentally. I need to stay relaxed and visualize the run - the whole thing, but mostly I need to visualize myself coming down that last 2-3 mile stretch confident, strong and happy. I'm trying - but I laugh every time because I'm fairly certain I will be in quite a bit of pain at that point - but I am still not loosing that "positive" attitude I need so that I can be as ready as I can mentally. As tired or as sore as I will be at that finish line, I will smile - and I know I will feel proud.

While working on the "stay strong mentally" part of preparing, I'm also trying to drink a lot of water this week so that I'm well-hydrated on Saturday. Another part of staying well-hydrated means to cut back on caffeine and beers. The beers haven't been a problem, but the coffee... I usually have a few *large* cups each day, so I'm cutting that down to two. Quitting right now would probably not be a good idea... I don't need to deal with caffeine headaches!
I'm also trying to boost my carb intake, which, to be perfectly honest, has been absolutely joyous! I love carbs. Tonight I'm having whole wheat spaghetti and ice cream for dessert. I'm trying to keep the rest of my diet in check, so I'm trying to keep with my eating 2-3 fruits each day, about 4 servings of raw veggies, my daily yogurt, egg sandwich, almonds and oatmeal. That all keeps me munching throughout the day.

I've tried to clear out my week so I can get ready physically, too. Yesterday (Monday) I had a late class, so I wasn't able to do much to prepare. In fact, it was a really stressful day. I had a 110-point project due that wasn't working, and a test! So I was pretty much freaking out all day yesterday, but I got my project to work in the last minutes before going to class, and my test actually went pretty well. I'm glad that's over, because now I can really focus... I hope!

So I guess there's this thing called "Taper Madness" and I keep getting emails with articles about how to avoid it and stressing how important it is to notice it and keep in control. Well, the last 4 weeks have been taper weeks for me (meaning my miles became less and less with no super-long runs on the weekends), so I started to read these articles. Apparently, most runners get into the 4-week taper and just decide to throw in another 18- or 20-miler just because they want to do a long run. What!? I saw my miles taper down and sighed with relief! A break! Woo-hoo! I figured I didn't really have to worry about this whole "taper madness" nonsense - I easily followed the mileages on my training schedule. But now -- the week before -- I can't help but think to myself, "I haven't done a long run in FOUR weeks. How on earth am I (or my legs) going to be ready to run 26.2 miles!?" And then I started to understand the taper madness. Maybe it doesn't necessarily have to be because I *want* to run 18 miles, but I kind of feel like I should. I won't, of course, it's way too late now, anyway. But I'm starting to understand this crazy phenomenon.

Tonight (Tuesday) I'm going to run 6 miles, eat my spaghetti, drink lots of water and do some stretching. Tomorrow night I'm going to pack my clothes and make sure I've got everything I need for race day. Thursday night I'll run 4 miles and get to bed early. I read that getting a lot of sleep the few nights before the race is really important, too, because most runners get little sleep the night before. This makes so much sense and wasn't something I thought of! So I'm trying to get more sleep this week than normal.

Friday morning Adam and I plan to wake up nice and early and get on the road. We've talked about taking fun back roads from Oshkosh to Ashland and maybe stop somewhere on the way up for lunch. At 3:30 the packet pick-up begins, so Adam and I will both pick up our race packets (he's walking the 5K), maybe visit the Expo, then head to Phillips. Friday evening will consist of a *very easy* 20-minute run to keep my legs limber, stretching, a somewhat bland, high-carb dinner, and lots of relaxing and sleep (hopefully).

Saturday morning at 3:30AM I will wake up and shower, get ready for the day, make coffee and breakfast and hit the road around 4:00 or 4:30. Drive the 1-1/2 hours to Ashland, find a place to park, get our stuff together and jump on the shuttle bus. Get to the start line, go for a jog, stand in line to pee, stretch, stand in line to pee again, then find my place at the start line.

Then... 9:00AM... I run.

Right now I've got a few goals in mind, which I always do before a big event like this. I usually set three -- one that I'm pretty certain I'll be able to achieve, one that I have a good chance at, and one that could be tough, but still possible.

Goal #1: Finish the marathon
Goal #2: Run the whole marathon without slowing to a walk
Goal #3: Finish in 4:22:11 or under. That's a pace of 10 minutes/mile

Okay, okay... here's a moment of pure honesty -- I always tend to push myself, and admittedly sometimes a little too much. See goal #3 up there? I really would like to finish under 4:09. But I read over and over again not to focus so much on time for your first race, so I'm trying really hard to just keep it out of my mind -- that's why a 10-minute mile is goal #3 and not goal #1. I have never once run over a 10-minute mile during my training, so I really shouldn't have a problem reaching that goal. But I don't have any idea what those last 6.2 miles will be like, so having that mental time-buffer in there might be all I have to hang onto if the going gets tough.

So that's the plan. My obsessing will hopefully pay off and not irritate too many of my friends and family! Adam has been super-supportive throughout my entire training, but I know he's getting pooped from all of this and I don't blame him! I drive myself batty! But I feel really lucky to have him by my side. He's talked me into going on runs when I didn't feel like it, encouraged me when I was feeling tired, and he even drove out on my long-run routes a couple of times to cheer me on. One time he was holding a piece of chocolate cake that I was looking forward to eating when I got done - the faster I ran the sooner I got that cake! He really helped make some of it fun - and made me feel important to him. But I know he's looking forward to the break in training, as am I.

...but first things first...

1 comment:

wywrdsn said...

Best of luck with the marathon