Marathon Musings: Confession Time (& Post-Marathon Plans)

I have a small confession to make.  This past Thursday was the first time I ran since my 20 miler.  Yes, that was something like a 3 week break.  I don’t know what happened, but all of a sudden I just could not find it in me to put one foot in front of the other and run for even 3 feet let alone 3 miles, 5 miles, 8 miles, 12 miles…

I knew it was probably my worst idea ever to blow off over three weeks worth of runs so close to D-Day, but I couldn’t even bring myself to care.  Surprisingly…or maybe not so surprisingly, my slacking hasn’t increased my nerves very much.  I figure I’ve been running consistently and training for distance runs (half marathons) for almost a year straight now.  I managed all of my marathon long runs with minimal struggle, and even the 20 miler, while it was a challenge, wasn’t terrible.

I did run, with Colleen, again last Thursday, and I’m doing my final “long” run tonight.  I plan to take a nice long walk on Wednesday and do some gentle yoga/ stretching Thursday/ Friday.  My hip was a little sore during Thursday’s run, but I think it was just getting back into the swing of things.

However, when I sat down and really, truly thought about it, I realized that I’m just straight up burnt out on running.  So I’ve decided that after the marathon I’m going to take at least two weeks off from running.  Don’t get me wrong here.  I still love running, and I definitely plan to continue running after the marathon – especially since I’m already signed up for the Warrior Dash in June and the Chicago Rock n Roll half marathon in July – but after the marathon, I plan to take a much more relaxed approach to running and shift my focus to hiking and biking.  I’ll set up a training plan for the half marathon, but it’s going to be very relaxed.

I really enjoy biking, and I would like to improve in that arena.  I definitely want to do a sprint tri at some point in the not too distant future, and I think I would like to participate in a cycling race/ event some day.  Hiking and biking are also things Nik enjoys so him and I can do them together.  My hope to be able to take a couple short day trips over the summer and into fall to various forest preserves, state parks and trails in the area.

So there you have it.  Now, wish me luck I have a marathon to run in 5 days!

Marathon Musings: Closing In…

Marathon day is closing in upon me. In a mere ten days, I will be running 26.2 miles for the first (and last?) time in my life.

Throughout my training I’ve been pretty confident in my ability to finish the race. I even set a very loose goal time of 5:30. I’m still feeling confident, but the nerves are finally starting to set in.

I think most of the nervousness come from not knowing what to expect or how to prepare (ya know, other than the seemingly endless number of miles I’ve run over the last eighteen week.)  I’ve run plenty of races before, but a marathon just seems so much bigger. I can make it through a half on a solid breakfast and the water and fuel provided along the race course, but will that be enough for the full? How much fuel should I carry? Should I risk giving some to my parents or boyfriend to grab from them along the course? I worry about there being enough port-a-potties on the race course (because let’s face it, running ultimately makes me need to poop.) What do I eat for the next week and a half? How much more than “normal” do I eat? What about the night before or the morning of? And  most importantly, what the hell do I put on a playlist that needs to be six hours long?!?

[Source]

Right now I am trying to find the delicate balance between not thinking about it too much (aka not getting myself all worked up and bent out of shape over the little things) and doing adequate marathon preparation research (making sure I don’t overlook some sort of crucial piece of marathon day knowledge.)

I’m sure I will have some sort of panicked melt down between now and the start of the race, but for now I’m dealing okay. In the meantime dear readers, any marathoners out there wanna share some race prep tips with a newbie? Or even better, have you got any favorite running tunes I should download immediately?

Marathon Musing: 20 Miles Down, 6.2 to Go.

Funny story: Saturday afternoon I went out for my first 20 mile run ever. I managed to leave the house with no less than a dozen items, but about 1/4 mile from my trail, I realized I forgot to change out of my Chucks! Despite my blog name, running in Chucks is not something I want to do…especially not for 20 miles.

Here’s what I managed to bring with me:
Camelbak
Driver’s license, insurance card, $3 (just in case)
Water bottle to refill Camelbak
Clif shot blocks (strawberry flavored, and I’m still not on board with their weird texture.)
Clif Builder Bar
banana
iPod and headphones (which I was successful in not crushing in my car door this time.)
Cell phone
SPIbelt
Keys
and my Garmin (which, of course, was dead.)

Yes, all that stuff and I didn’t remember the one thing you really truly must have to run!  Leave it to me.

As for the run itself, it was definitely my hardest training run to date….like, ever I think.  The plan was to run my usual trail taking the 9.4 mile loop twice along with an extra 2 mile stretch.

About mile 11, I was back at my car to refill the Camelbak and grab my builder bar. I was definitely already tired at this point, but I wasn’t in any sort of pain though so I knew I needed to keep going and work through it.  After all, we have to be a little uncomfortable to get better right?  (Just say yes, please.)

The second time around the loop was definitely a struggle. The hills (which probably don’t even really qualify as hills in most other parts of the country) were extremely brutal. Around mile 16 I was really, really struggling. It also started drizzling which did not help the situation.  I was tired; I was sore; I was getting frustrated.  Despite all the struggles, I stayed mentally strong through the whole thing.  I never wanted to give up or cry or scream or quit.  I did end up walking most of the last mile, but I made sure to keep my walking pace up.  I finished the whole 20.25 miles in just over 4 hours.

20.25 miles of exhausted

I’m not sure what I’m more impressed by the fact that I ran 20 miles or the fact that I did it at an average pace of 12:30.

The real fun started when I got home and took my very first ice bath though!  In case you’re wondering, ice baths are REALLY FRICKIN COLD!  Also, while a 10 pound bag of ice may seem like a lot, it’s not nearly enough for a bathtub.  I climbed in wearing my running clothes and some softball socks and suffered out my 20 minutes while catching up on Facebook and Twitter.  Thankfully some entertaining Twitter conversations helped the time pass while my toes went numb with cold.

All in all, it was a successful weekend log run.  My quads hurt like hell and standing up from and sitting down on my chair will be a real joy today, but I’m proud of myself.