Obligatory ‘see you on the other side’ post.
Yes, I’ve entirely given up on crafting interesting post titles.
My hamstring is not perfect, but I feel fine about it. In my past two marathons, I’ve had some kind of nagging worrisome ache crop up in the months leading up to the race, and all was okay once I locked into an honest pace on race day. For the sake of my sanity, I have to assume the same will be the case here.
Sometimes I read about how much people hate tapering, and I just don’t get it. Am I the only one who thinks it’s a great fun to wake up knowing all the work is behind you? I mean, I love running long, but I’ve never felt any kind of itchy burning desire to “do more” during the taper. Bring on the short runs!
Of course, I am looking back at the past few months wishing that I could have… well, not gotten injured. This will be my fourth marathon, and it’s the first time I’ve had a notable training roadblock crop up beforehand. I do feel as if I’ve lost fitness, and I’m certainly not going into this marathon with the race sharpness I’d originally envisioned. It’s not ideal, but it’s okay because the pressure’s off and my expectations are lower. In fact, I really don’t know what to expect. Sub-3:10? Yes, I should be there. If nothing goes horribly awry, I will be under 3:10. The question then becomes, how close to 3:05 can I squeeze?
But crap! Everything can go wrong! What if the ham-hitch comes back in full force and I’m dragging my leg behind me the whole way? Or what if I just wake up feeling sluggish and have one of those every-once-in-a-while bad days? What if I get intimidated by the thousands of other people in my CORRAL at the start and let it mess with my head? What if my 3:11 at Louisiana was an enormous fluke and that course was incomparably easy and I’ve been deluding myself about my ability all along?
Standard pre-race doubts.
Dread and doubt, however, are not my dominant emotions right now. My mind keeps pinging back to something a teammate said to me as we headed down to rowing practice for a time trial a few years ago. I was so nervous about the erg test, and I expected my teammate to respond with a commiserative, “I’m scared, too.” Instead, she said something like, “I’m not nervous. I’m excited to see what I can do.”
That’s how I feel about this race. I’ve built this, I’ve laid the foundation, I’ve done the work, and now I’m intrigued to see if it will land me anywhere special. From November of last year to October of this year, I logged 4217 miles and averaged over 81 mpw. I’ve put in 11 triple-digit weeks since the end of July. I’ve had multiple 7:2x-paced long runs. Maybe I didn’t do enough speed work and maybe my injury derailed some of the big runs I was planning to put in closer to the race, but the miles I ran haven’t disappeared. Maybe I’m not the kind of runner who can peak at 60mpw and still bust out a 3:0x, but I’ve relished the process of getting here, so when I think about what’s going to happen on Sunday, I’m really just… excited.
I’m going to be in a GIANT CROWD. I’m not gonna know wtf to do about throwaway clothes, there will be tons of people and not enough portopotties, and I’ll probably have some last-minute peeing emergency and my heart will be pounding even though it’s just a race, even though it’s just running. So the first few miles will be crowded. I’ll stay cool and settle in, I won’t get carried away, I won’t be stupid. There will be cheering and a few hills and lots and lots of people but I’m going to be relaxed, patient, latent, thanking volunteers while I’ve still got the breath for it. At mile 13, we’ll pull back around the Art Museum and lose the halfers and here come the long and lonely stretches so I’ll stay in my head, lock into this minute, mile by mile, reel ‘em in pick ‘em off, here’s Girard Ave Bridge, keep rolling, here’s Strawberry Mansion Bridge, this is my turf, this is my river, this is my town now, up to Green Lane in Manayunk turn around and here it is, the last 10K, the bridges again, they’ll be slower to come by so I’ll work, press, stay loose, rolling, rolling, rolling, Mile 25 and Boathouse Row and here it is, the last sweet, dreadful mile and no matter what happens I hope I’m thinking to myself, how damn lucky am I to be out here feeling alive today?