I returned from my crazy weekend trip to Orlando at 11pm on Sunday night. I unpacked enough to get the wet clothes out of the suitcases and collapsed in bed knowing the alarm was set for 5:30am. Gotta love Monday morning conference at 7am… Monday evening I skipped running clinic to make amends with my younger 2 children who stayed home all weekend. My princess was kissing up in the hopes that she’d get a surprise trip soon while my 3 year old walked in the door and boldly demanded presents!
Tuesday was crazy. Long day in the OR for me. I still thought I’d get my run done until I came home to some of the foulest moods ever seen. I chose the route of supportive mom and wife over my marathon training but I won’t lie and pretend I was happy about it. Not a fun evening in my house…
Wednesday was my 1st run since Friday. By the time I was home from work it was rather cold and dark so I made a date with the treadmill. I watched some Frosty-related Christmas special and managed 2.71 miles before it was time for dinner with the kids.
Friday night was a work-related girls’ night out. Fun but probably not the ideal situation the night before a long run. Which brings us to my final long run before I enter taper mode…
I woke up at 5am with a predicted temperature of 27F. I dressed warmly and forced my tired self out the door. I had spoken to several people and had recommended distances ranging from 15-24 miles. My ideal goal was 20-22 miles or 4+ loops of 5.1 miles. My previous 20 was only 2 weeks prior so not an ideal gap.
My goal today was to start slow. I wanted no faster than 14 min/mile. This is hard for me because I want to be faster than I am so I like the idea of pushing the envelope but I also knew that this was not the place for it. I chose a very conservative run 30sec/walk 1min because I know that it would be the only way to keep my speed down. The 1st loop was fine. I was tired and not really feeling it. I stopped home to refresh water and use indoor plumbing only to realize that one of the kids had left the inside light on in the minivan. I was leaving Tom with 3 kids who need to be dressed, fed, and taken to Hebrew School and I knew he wouldn’t appreciate a dead battery. So I paused long enough to make sure the car started and also turned off the offending light. And headed out for the next loop.
I felt pretty good on this loop. I was definitely a little faster and worked to slow down. Around mile 8, my left calf that started bothering me after my 20 mile run started to feel tight. No pain, just tightness. About a mile later that changed into pain. The pain was ok with walking. There but not bad. When I started a run interval the pain increased. I walked the last mile home and re-fueled and stretched. I debated quitting at that point but it felt a bit better so I decided to do 1 more loop and call it quits.
My 3rd loop was the fastest of the 3. I took some extra walk breaks when the calf got painful but I had good energy and did some sprint-like run intervals in the last mile. Overall I averaged about 14 min/mile. I probably could have walked another loop if I really wanted the miles but I decided that undertrained beats injured every time.
My calf feels tight but not painful. And I walked up and down stairs enough times today to know! I feel pretty good except for that (and general exhaustion which is typical this time of year). I don’t feel 100% ready to taper (or for the race) but my intellectual side understands that I can only do more harm than good.
A few thoughts as I enter my taper period…
A year ago I didn’t train super well for my 1st half marathon. It was only after the fact that I understood the joy of training and racing. My 2nd race was 3 months later and I managed a 30sec/mile improvement. Similarly, my marathon training has not been ideal. One reason I picked the Galloway plan is the shorter mid-week runs. The flip side is that he expects more longer runs on the weekends. I think I needed to increase my mid-week mileage a bit to make up for my inability to schedule all of the long runs. Obviously we had some major life issues get in the way – a sick child, a dog with cancer, work trips, fun trips, on-call schedules, etc. And I did pretty well, all things considered. A little part of me is sorry that I won’t see my full potential in this race but I also understand why “they” say you shouldn’t have a time goal for your 1st marathon, “Goal: Finish in the upright position.”
I’ve learned a few things about myself during this training.
As much as I’ve resisted setting the alarm super early to run, I’m a true morning person. That clear, cool hour before dawn when the world is still? Nothing is more peaceful than running in that. And my life isn’t one that offers much peace. I should really think about mid-week early morning runs. Or maybe when the weather gets warmer… (In my defense I already get up at 5:30am several days a week for work.).
I’ve learned to listen to my body. I’m a salt sweater and needed to start taking salt tablets on long runs. I need more fuel on runs that the conventional teaching. And I probably drink too much water and Gatorade on my runs. Most likely to make up for insufficient water intake at other times.
I’m tougher than I know. And this has started spilling over to other aspects of my life. Asking for what I need – at work and at home. It’s helping my career move forward in ways I couldn’t imagine. I had heard that a marathon could change your life and I’m only beginning to see those changes. And I like them!
3 weeks from tomorrow I will likely finish my 1st marathon, I’m already planning Goofy in 2013 so stay tuned….

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