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Obligatory ‘see you on the other side’ post.

11/14/2012

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?

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. 11/14/2012 12:37

    You will have a great race! Use the halfers to your advantage for pacing then take off when the course clears. I love Philly and am a bit jealous of you. Can’t wait to read how it goes!

    • 11/14/2012 16:21

      Thanks!! Good point about the half. I hadn’t really thought about it that way.

  2. 11/14/2012 13:40

    Yes, you did build this! I’m also excited to see what you can do. Have a great race. And don’t leave us hanging about the outcome, ok ? 😉 Have you got twitter yet? J

    • 11/14/2012 16:24

      In fact, I was planning on instagram-tweeting a self-portrait at every mile marker of the race. I expect endless twitter applause for my heroism!

  3. 11/14/2012 14:28

    Holy holy holy batman shit. No wonder you love tapering, 11 weeks over 100 miles!? Good god your legs are made of steel and can definitely do anything at this point. You belong at 2:55-3:02. I’m basing all of this on science by comparing you to me, and I really think your base and endurance puts you at lowwww 3:00 capability. I’m not trying to pump you up or give you encouragement (but use it as such!), I’m just confused as to how you have any doubts!! Especially with the extra adrenaline of a BIG race that you are going to get. you’re going to murder 3:10.

    p.s. your early corral will thin out quickly, I don’t think the first few miles will be too congested.

    pps fingers crossed on your hamstring issue to completely lay dormant on race day

    • 11/14/2012 16:27

      NO DAMN HELL TO THE WAY. I don’t think sub-3:00 is in the cards for me quite yet. 3:05 would be really cool, but even that is seeming… fast. However, I very much enjoy your generous projections! My hamstring issue agrees to lie dormant if your buttcrease issue will do the same.

  4. 11/14/2012 15:12

    Also a bonus – I’ll be down there cheering. Looking for the sweaty one, I guess?

    • 11/14/2012 16:46

      AhhH! That is very exciting!! Where will you be cheering? Should I look for a blurry moose?

      I will be wearing a white baseball cap with a red C in the middle. Not sure about the rest yet. I’m sure this is helpful identifying information…

  5. 11/14/2012 16:30

    Your last paragraph is so beautiful!!! Seriously. You made me so excited for your race then, and I know if there’s any running justice in the world, you’ll kill it.

    • 11/14/2012 16:47

      Thank you!! And if there’s no running justice and I completely tank, it will at least make for a good blog post, right?

      • 11/14/2012 19:38

        exactly. 😉 Go run your race. Your hard work and drive is inspiring (and I hate that word, but it is!)

  6. 11/14/2012 19:12

    Whoa, how many 100 mi weeks?! 3:05 will be a joke for you!

  7. Ewen permalink
    11/14/2012 21:03

    You’ll be great. I’m going to remember your teammate’s attitude. Also “this is my river, this is my town” — can’t wait to see how you go.

  8. 11/15/2012 07:00

    I found this after Margot tweeted about the last paragraph of this post. Loved every single word. You captured it perfectly.

    I know I haven’t followed your training and obviously don’t have much to go on, but just from reading this…it’s clear you are prepared. No training cycle is ever perfect…but you managed to put down some solid miles despite the injury. In the words of your friend, I’m excited to see what you can do. Good luck!!

  9. 11/16/2012 20:49

    Good luck tomorrow

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