In general, there are a lot of marathon training plans out there. They all have a few things in common, like long runs on the weekends that increase slowly each week. But there's a lot of variety in the stuff during the week-- some have you run lots and lots almost every day, others are less intense. I cobbled together a plan with two mid-week short runs and two strength training / stretching days. Even though this is less running than some other plans out there, I still had a really hard time getting them all in. We had a wedding one weekend that threw off the long run. Work has been crazy all month, so I had to miss a few of the midweek runs. Generally, it's really hard / not possible to put your life completely on hold for 5 months for something. I tried to focus and make this my first priority just for the last month and couldn't even do that. I don't know how other people do it. Training was a priority, but not my only priority.
Note the major upswing in October when I clearly started trying harder.
I did try though. I successfully ran the long runs and at least one mid-week run every week. I think I have trained better this year than last, but I can't find my tracker from last year to prove it. Last year I finished in almost exactly 6 hours - my goal this year is 5:30, which is over 1 minute faster for each mile.
I'm disappointed again that I didn't train harder. I wish I could have run all the miles I was supposed to, and I think I also needed to start training earlier. I'm just a slow runner and will never be a contender to actually win one of these things- but I was hoping to get faster as I trained. Instead, the training allowed me to run longer distances over time, but generally at the same average speed. So, I'm still slow. I will not be finishing in 4 hours or likely even 5 hours. Maybe next time (but probably not).
I'm also disappointed I didn't do a better job at strength training. My knee hurts almost every time I run, some days worse than others. I'm worried that it will start hurting early in the race and it will be too painful to manage. I'm also worried that I'm causing long-term damage that I'll regret when I'm 32 and can't go up and down stairs.
Last Minute Prep:
There isn't a whole lot you can do in the final days. It's a lot like the night before your final exam- you either studied and did your homework, or you didn't and you can't make it up now. Over the past few days, we've been doing everything we can to be as healthy as possible. I made lots of pasta-based meals planned for dinner. I'm taking the leftovers in for lunch, so that everything I eat has been home-cooked and carb-alicious. We're taking a break from all alcohol, and trying to drink 2 liters of water a day to be super hydrated. We're also trying to go to sleep early and be well-rested. We have a few very short runs planned, just to keep the legs moving, but are otherwise taking it very easy.
We have both been reaching out to friends and family for support. Last year, R was my support coordinator- he carried all of my stuff and ran with me for several important sections. Unfortunately, he's running, so I won't have him this year. Instead, we'll both have to mess with the bag check and figure out how to stay warm until the starting bell. We'll both have to carry our own supplies. It looks like his family will be there to cheer us on. I have thankfully lined up my friend and my brother to run again with me. My mom is flying up for the race to run some key parts too. Altogether, I think I can patch them together to cover most of the last 10 miles, which is obviously the harder part when I will start seriously questioning why I'm doing this.
Why am I doing this?
- I'm looking forward to finishing. I don't want to run this thing, so finishing it is a huge triumph over my own laziness. [Also known as the joy of doing something awful, so that you can enjoy stopping it.]
- I'm looking forward to getting my medal. Not only do I not want to do this- most people don't want to do this. Finishing a marathon is very rare. So it's a huge badge of honor to do it. At the Marine Corps Marathon, actual marines in uniform give you your medal at the finish line and solute you. It's pretty intensely awesome and makes me proud.
- I'm looking forward to the huge burger and fries I'm going to eat at the victory party. We've been really careful about food lately, so junk food has been totally nixed. After the race we get to have burgers and fries a) because we're no longer in training so it's ok and b) because I will have just burned almost 3000 calories. There will also be dessert.
- I'm looking forward to eating like a normal person again. The plus side of the running is that you burn more calories so you can eat more. The down side is that you have to eat more because you are constantly starving. Every day I would like to eat an entire cow. An entire cow dipped in chocolate. This is, of course, where runners get into trouble and eat more than they can run off, gaining weight, so you have to be really careful. (I successfully lost 3 pounds. Woot Woot).
- I'm looking forward to next Sunday, when I don't have to run and don't have to feel bad about it. Running a marathon is really intense, but it's a lot more than a one day thing. For months now I've been training, which means that every Sunday we had to wake up early and during the week after work I had to run. There's a lot of constant guilt (for me) while training, because I always feel like I'm skipping something or being lazy (because I often was).
- I'm looking forward to getting all of my weekends back. When I did the runs I was supposed to, I felt great, but also exhausted and frustrated because they consumed my weekends. We couldn't do a lot of things on Saturdays (like hiking or staying out late) because it would mess up the Sunday run. On Sunday, we would have to wake up early, prep, run, stretch, shower, and often nap - so that a long run ended up taking over the whole day. We have a lot of house projects I'm anxious to tackle, as well as friends I feel like I haven't gotten to hang out with.
- I'm looking forward to doing other activities. On the same note as above, running has consumed my ability to do anything else. I am really excited to do other exercise things again that aren't running. We pay for a gym membership that neither of us have used in since we got started. I want to try lots and lots of classes. I want to hike before the fall is completely over. I want to try a barre class and wear all of the yoga clothes I own in a yoga studio (instead of the living room). I want to do things that are slightly more interesting and entertaining than trying to decide which foot comes next.