Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Marathon countdown: 2 weeks

My first marathon is in two weeks.  Holy sandwich baggies.

On Wednesday of this week (barring disaster) I'm also going to hit 500 miles run this year.   What the what?

I'm still in disbelief.  I'm excited for the race to get here.  I'm ready for lower mileage on the weekends for a while.  I'm ready to test myself to see how this feels.  I'm ready to push through what I know is going to be something challenging and see if I can do it.

And yet when I think about other lengthy, challenging experiences I've endured, I know I can.   Being pregnant?  Ugh.  Labor (for 26 hours, thanks Addie) was no picnic the first time, but I just did it until it was done.  The same goes for Act II of Swan Lake.  It's no walk in the park.  But you dance and then you stand in B+ until your leg locks up like a stone pillar and then you gently shift your weight against the corner of your pointe shoe until the music changes and you can switch feet.  You just do it and you put this look of peace on your face because for a while it's what you're doing.

I've spent all weekend looking at my data from my long runs.  Thank God for my Garmin, or I'd have no flipping idea what I was doing or what I was capable of.  I feel, thankfully, like I have a really accurate sense of how fast (and slow) I run, what effect starting too fast has on my pace, and what heart rate I'm shooting for.

I also spent a while this morning Googling negative split calculators.  If you're not a runner, that just means running the first half slower than the second.  It might seem counterintuitive, but when you're trying to run for 26 miles you want to save some juice for the end.  At least I think that's the point.  In the past when I've used a negative split strategy for long runs I've felt much better when I finished.  I don't have a time goal but Runners World's Smartcoach (which has been right on the money about my pace for 18 weeks) says I should be close to 4:45.  I think it's more like 5 hrs, but anything that starts with "I finished and I didn't die..." is a win in my book.

The most surprising thing about training for a marathon is that I don't hate the training.  I guess you have to get to that point--or I did.  For a long time before I started I thought it was about getting myself to do something that I hated (run) for a long time.  I thought it was about talking myself into doing this awful thing.  It isn't.  I got to a place where I had to come to terms with whether or not I wanted to be running or not.  I did.  If that was the case I had to figure out a way to do it that was tolerable.  Sometimes tolerable means uncomfortable, but no more uncomfortable than other things I do all the time--like work, get off the couch, put dishes in the dishwasher.  For what I put into it, it pays off, bigtime.

Running has showed me that so many people don't want to be uncomfortable--ever.  Interesting, right?

And while I feel like this race is the beginning of something--marathoning, as a verb--it's also looming in my mind as the end of summer, the end of training, the end of my pre-MFA life.  Since I don't know a lot about what life is going to look like once I start school, the marathon sits on my calendar like a sentry guarding the mystery that comes after.  It's a known that comes before some unknowns.

I can't wait.

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