Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Marathon preparation

Race day is almost here. In four days I will cross the starting line and attempt to finish my 13th marathon. You might think this should be routine for me by now. I've been here before and know the drill, so why do I feel so nervous? More nervous, in fact, than I remember feeling the days leading up to the race. Have I just forgotten in the year and a half I haven't done a marathon? Or, maybe it's because of the different training and race plan this time around.

As I mentioned in my last post, this has been a very challenging training session with the extreme cold temps and all the snow. Now it's finally spring and it's been beautiful outside the past couple of weeks. As much as I don't want the snow to come back, I'm not sure I'm quite ready for this warmer weather. I've barely trained in it! Added to that is the crazy wind and violent thunderstoms we've had this past week. The forecast looks good as far as rain is concerned this weekend in St. Louis. But, it could possibly get up into the upper 60's/low 70's and is supposed to be a beautiful, sunny, slightly windy day. Great for spectating, not so great for runners, especially in the last half of the marathon.

Since I have no control over the weather, I'm just trying my best to prepare myself mentally (and a little physically too). The past few runs, I've purposely overdressed to try to help my body acclimate to warmer temps. It may be too little,too late, but I figure it can't hurt. I've gotten the tight spots worked out in my legs by Brian and Barb, so no excuses there. The hardest part of this for me is to fully let go of any time goal. That's different for me this time. Normally I have a very specific goal and have worked diligently to reach it. By now, I usually have my goal pace down and it feels relatively easy. I've been saying "no time goal," but in the back of my mind, I keep wanting to shoot for four hours. There's really nothing magic about that, other than to prove to myself that I can do it. It would be a great confidence boost.

I should tell you that my last marathon, New York in 2008, did not end well. I had started the race with Ann and was trying to help her run 3:50. After eight miles, I knew I couldn't hang with her, so I let her go. Each mile got progessively slower and harder and by mile 23, I had forgotten all about my time goal and even thought about quitting. With Eladio's urging, I pulled myself together and ran in the last few miles as hard as I could. With two miles to go, I thought I might still have a chance to break four hours. Sadly, I crossed the finish line and my watch read 4:01:08.

I would just hate to get that close again if there's any chance I could run that fast. I just really don't know. Other than my time trials, I don't know if I have built up enough strength and endurance to get there this time. I know it shouldn't really matter, at least not by the goals I had originally set for myself. It's just hard to stop my innate competitive drive. I will pray a lot between now and Sunday that God will help me stay strong and true to my plan. More than anything, I want to walk away from this race feeling like I ran smart and staying healthy for my summer training. Regardless of my time, I would love to finish feeling strong and be the one passing in the end. Those are the things I will have to constantly remind myself of this week and during the race.

Even though this week has been kinda nerve-wracking for me, I am comforted by the support of my family and friends. When I step back and look at the bigger picture, I know that I am exteremly blessed. I am so thankful that I've been able to experience this training with my wonderful running buddies. Thanks Adina, Theresa, Ann, Mallika, and Jackie! You're the best!! I have so many great memories of our runs together this winter. You helped get me out of bed on so many dark, frigid mornings. I know I wouldn't have even run those days if it weren't for meeting you guys. I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey during this training and look forward to running with you again once I'm recovered. I'll be thinking of you all during the race and imagining you're right there beside me. :-)

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