Saturday, June 7, 2014

running with Pollyanna (the last marathon training run)

Today I finished marathon training. That sentence floors me. I have successfully trained for a marathon. I haven’t run it yet, but the training is done. The last few weeks were hard. May 2 we did 16, then I had a half the 10th. Then 18 miles the 21st. 20 miles the 28th. And today it went back down to 12. Every week since April 27 when I ran a half, I have done a double digit run, in the teens mostly, until today. Today was the long taper run. Next week the long run is 8, but really, I’m done. I just get to go back to running. Just for fun. No rules, no schedule. Two weeks from today I will show up at the start line of a marathon and put to test these weeks of work, but either way, the training phase is done. 

 A marathon sounds cool to the ear, the thing many people want to do, but as I have noted, only .05% of Americans have so it’s not like a lot get to it. The training is certainly why. Most of us can run 26 miles with training, but the training is brutal at times. A very long run becomes your day. You change your sleeping, your eating, your social life (not that I have one) and your life revolves around the run. It’s a commitment. Apart from that is the sheet tedious nature of it. You ever spent four hours by yourself running? Yeah, me neither, thank God.

Today’s run was actually the hardest of all. Part may be that mentally I knew I was done with the hard part, so it was like, okay, let’s do this! This was our 4th long run and the 4th time it was cooler than it had been. We scheduled these all in advance and we had no rain, no extreme heat, nothing—though the weeks around it were. Today was humid which didn’t start my breathing off great, but really, the last couple weeks my sleep has been tumultuous, and the last two days especially I hadn’t had much—not for lack of trying—so that probably affected me more than anything. 

We went back to where we did the first long run and enjoyed nearly empty roads.  This week there were no dogs to battle, though we did see a tarantula that is the biggest bug I have ever seen in my life. Other than that the only eventful part of the run was me being tired and worn down! Pollyanna there kept telling me how great I was doing and how I was almost done. I’d rather have Pollyanna than Negative Nellie. Nothing about her is negative. The last 3 miles were so hard today. I lost time and form, but I kept going. When we finished it was about 90 in the sun, so that probably didn’t help! I was 100% soaking wet top to bottom. What wasn’t sweat was my pouring water over my head. I estimated that I drank (partly poured) a gallon of water today.  

I have run so much lately that I am definitely thrilled for the taper break. April 27 I ran a half, and then have not slowed since. Every week between April 27 and today I have run double digit runs. Two half marathons, and then 12, 16, 18, and 20. And now is rest. Now I can run for fun. My training schedule tells me next week I will top off at 21 miles. I haven’t run a week that low in a long time. How fun to just go run. 

This training has taught me a lot about discipline and commitment. I have no huge desire to do more than one marathon. I just want to know I can. Today we ended with a segue to another metaphorical marathon. When I get back from Duluth, summer will be upon me. I have some races planned, but haven’t even settled on my first fall half yet. I expect I will run a lot more half marathons. That’s my distance of choice. I just want to do it as a marathoner.

So I’m done. I am trained. I am ready to run and test the limits of my body and mind over 26.2 miles.

It’s funny to me that running is the sport about competing against ourselves—it’s really a solo sport—and yet I did the hardest part with someone else. I’m sure there is a life lesson here, and I suspect I am just about to start learning it.

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