Marathon Goals

I have been very clear from the beginning of this whole thing that my only goal it to cross the finish line in one piece.  And that is true.  I have done everything for this race on my own, I haven’t been training for all that long, and this will be my first time even running over 20 miles, so my only focus should absolutely be finishing the race.

 

However.  There is now way I can go into the race without even thinking about my time goals.  Just to be clear, though, they will not be anywhere near fast.

The truth is that it’s hard for me to admit my goals out loud becuase it means that I might not achieve them.  But, alas, here I am.

As far as my pacing goes, though I have done many of my 5-6 mile runs at a sub 9:00 mile pace, all of my long runs were usually over a 10:00 mile pace.  I didn’t worry about going fast for these long runs and just went as slow as I needed to get it done.  Someday I will work on running faster for long distances, but that day will not be Sunday.

Like most people do, I decided to check McMillan’s race calculator.  I ran the NYC Half Marathon in March in 2:04, and according to McMillan, I can therfore run a full marathon in 4:21. Buuuuut I have also heard that McMillan can be a little overly ambitious, so I don’t really know how much I trust that.

This is my tentative plan: run the first 10 miles slowly, run the next 10 miles less slowly, and run the last 6.2 with whatever I got left.  My hope is that I am pushing hard when I cross the finish line, because it will mean that I gave it everything I had. But one of my worst fears is going out so fast that I am struggling to even walk to the finish line. I would love to get as close to 4:00 hours as possible, and maybe even break it at one point in the future, but I also know that I will go out too conservatively to get very close to it.

I think I will start at around a 10 minute mile pace and try to sustain it for as long as possible.  If I can pick it up and go faster, that will be great.  But I might not be able to.  If I do keep the pace, this would put my finish time at right around 4:20 (or 4:21, same as what McMillan thinks).  So anything under 4:30 would make me very happy.

There is a big part of me that wants to be more aggressive and run faster, but this is my first marathon, after all.  It could end up taking me over 5 hours for all I know.  I can’t expect too much.

I was thinking about all of these goals on my run this morning.  It was my final run (unless I go on a short 2 mile run on Saturday, but I don’t know if that will happen), and it was a very easy 3 miles.  As I ran past Engineer’s Gate, I realized how many times I have run in that exact location and how great this whole experience has been.

No matter what happens during the marathon, I am glad to have been able to train these past months and push myself to totally new places.

Here’s the thing about Sunday: I don’t know what the hell is going to happen out there.  My body could refuse to keep moving after 20 miles.  I could have a crappy day. I could have a great day. Which is why, again, my only real goal is to finish.

Because then I will get to say that I ran 26.2 miles.  Twenty six point freaking two miles.

Random Thoughts of Tuesday

Please excuse the disorganized nature of this post.

Although, let’s be honest, my posts are always disorganized.  But today I can’t even attempt to put them together in a somewhat cohesive way, so this is just a random list of thoughts that have been on my mind.

1.  The red cups at Starbucks are back, as you probably know.  As someone who loves the holiday season, this makes me very happy, even if the quotes written on them are questionable:

2. Central Park in the fall never stops being amazing to me.  I am very aware of the fact that I talk often about how beautiful the leaves are, and it probably gets pretty repetitive, but I am always blown away.  I think a big part of it is because I am from Denver, and we just don’t have spring and fall in the same way they do here in the east.

This is the view from my bedroom. HA. If only. I was at a work event.

3. On a similar note, there are a lot of hidden gems in Central Park if you look for them. Everyone knows the big landmarks like Bethesda Fountain, but there is so much more to be seen.  For example, almost every bench has a plaque with a unique message on it from the person who sponsored it.  There are quite a range of inscriptions:

This one is hard to read, but it says "Earl the Pearl is Here, Let the Squirrels Beware"

4.  Pinterest has really started taking up too much of my time.  But I dare you to get on that website and not get stuck.  It’s dangerous.  But then I find things like this, so I think it’s worth it:

5. Considering this is a blog about running, I should mention that I ran a little over 6 miles today.  I took a mile for warm up and wanted the next 5 miles to be under 9:00 each, which they were:


Don’t let this fool you. I won’t be running the marathon with splits anywhere near these.

So there you have it. 5 random thoughts. Thanks for listening.

Guess who ran 20 miles?

I did! I did! I did!  Can you believe it?  I can’t, but it’s true.  20 Miles.

I was feeling a bit nervous about this run, but I had myself convinced that I would finish 20 miles no matter what.  No excuses.

So in anticipation of this feat, last night I had a delicious carby dinner and was in bed before 10. Marathon training has made me SO cool.  Although in all honestly, I don’t usually do much on Friday nights anyway.  But I will still blame the marathon.

This morning my alarm went off bright and early at 5:30am, and I spent a few minutes giving myself a pep-talk before I could actually turn on the lights and get up.

I wanted to practice as much of the the pre-race routine that I will use on November 20th. I had my standard breakfast of peanut butter on toast with a giant cup of coffee on the side. Then there were lots of sexy activities like applying body glide everywhere imaginable and using the bathroom 15 times.

After almost an hour of these lovely rituals, I made it out the door.  As some of you may know, the weather is less than ideal here in the Northeast.  But at 6:30am today, it wasn’t even really raining yet.

So I spent a blissful hour in the Park of mainly rain-free running.  Then the rain arrived. And it arrived hard.

But I kept going.

No, of course I didn't take this picture. But it sums up exactly the way I feel about running.

I am no longer worried about the weather in Philadelphia.  I ran the majority of 20 miles in gross wind and rain, and it didn’t slow me down all that much.

My plan was to do about a loop and a half in the park and then venture onto the west side drive.  But then, I had completed almost 2 full loops, and I decided that I would just run 3 loops and then add on a bit at the very end to finish the 20 miles.

So basically, my run was very repetitive.  I ran a lot of miles, but I didn’t really go anywhere. Weirdly, the repetition didn’t bother me.  Usually I hate doing multiple loops, but today I was fine with it.

Round and round Central Park

I ate a Gu at mile 5, mile 11 and mile 16.  I have to remind myself to do this, because usually by mile 5 I am not feeling any special desire to down a weird semi-liquid gu out of a packet.  But they really are important, and I felt pretty sustained when I took them about every 50 minutes.

There were plenty of times during today’s run when I felt tired or sore.  But I knew quitting wasn’t an option, which is the secret to getting it done, if you ask me.

I also have a tendency to look down when I run, rather then ahead, which means that I always manage to miss other people I know.  Several people have told me they saw me on the road, but I never manage to see them.  Today I saw my friend Kim, but only after she had said “hey” several times.  I was also at mile 15 and not very articulate, so it was not the best mid-run meeting.  But it was still awesome to see a friendly face.

This is 100% how I feel:

So you are welcome, Kim.  I know I looked good.  (Also: can you tell that I spent the morning googling running photos?  Yeah the rain didn’t exactly make it easy to take pictures.)

Before I knew it, I had finished 20 miles.  I don’t know if I ever thought that would be possible.  I was tired and sore when I got home, but that’s nothing that some frozen peas and nutritious post-run hydration won’t fix:

What? Is it not normal to drink a beer at 11am?

And now it is actually snowing here.  I’m glad I finished my run before that arrived, because now I can lay around on my couch and drink more beer.   I hope the snow doesn’t ruin any Halloween plans.  I personally have an awesome costume, and I will wear it no matter what. (In case you care, my friends and I are being the motorcycle gang from Sons of Anarchy, aka the best show on TV. Seriously.)

I am really proud that I was able to get this done.  20 miles is the most I will run before the Big Day, and now I will officially start my taper period.  3 weeks to go!

A great day for a run

It was really beautiful this morning on my run.  The temperature was in the high 50s when I was leaving my apartment, and the humidity was low.  A really great day to go for a run.

So that’s what I did.  My legs were still sore in a few places, but I honestly tried not to think about it much.

Instead, I concentrated on how nice it was out and (finally!) managed to take a few grainy pictures with my phone.

Nice views, right?  I remembered this morning that the simple act of going for a run can be really great.  Not a training run with a specific time or distance goal, but just a simple run. Sometimes I get so focused on my pace or my time that I forget to look around and actually enjoy it.

But of course, I did still wear my Garmin today.  I covered about 5.5 miles, with an average pace of 9:11.

Even though I was still sore, I was able to push through, so I think I am going to bounce back just fine.  And I’m actually glad that I was able to take a step back and remind myself to look around a bit more.  Turns out, there is some pretty great stuff to be seen.

All sorts of new pains

I have been procrastinating this post because I am not very happy with how things have gone for the past few days.

Yesterday I set out with the plan of either running 17 or 20 miles.  Sounds like a solid and specific plan, right? Yeaaaaah.

The option to run 17 miles was the responsible one, which would bring down my mileage for the week.  I have been increasing for the past few weeks, so the prudent thing to do would be to decrease my long run distance.

But then option 2, running 20 miles, was my other (real) goal. See, I want to get in 20 miles twice before I run the marathon, and as that date approaches, my weekends to do so are also diminishing.  The plan that I am following (or roughly following, sorta.) only has one 20 miler, which doesn’t seem like enough to me.  So, I really wanted to get in 20 miles yesterday.

Instead, I ended up doing 18.5 miles. Not the lowered 17 miles, which would help me preserve my body healthily, but also not the full 20 miles, which would have really pushed myself.

There is a very fine line between pushing yourself and listening to yourself.

The run started pretty normal, with me waking up at 5am at setting out for Central Park. Remember how I said I would snap some photos of the beautiful changing trees?  Yeah I didn’t do that. It was really beautiful though.

Pretty, huh? I didn't take the photo, but I swear it is this amazing.

(source)

Last week I basically just spent the whole 2.5 hours running around and around Central Park, so I figured this week I would venture out to other parts of the City.

I pretty much ran around the entire island of Manhattan:

I honestly didn’t think I would ever be able to do that.  It’s pretty amazing that New York has made (almost) the entire perimeter of the city runner-friendly.  I was surrounded by other walkers, bikers and runners the whole time, and it was a truly beautiful day for any such activity.

But the truth is, I was hurting my the end of this one.  My 18 miles last week were hard, but after I got home and stretched/iced, I felt much better.

Not so this week.  I was in pain, and it was pain that I am not used to. Soreness is something that I have gotten accustomed to from time to time with runs, but yesterday there were all sorts of new pains goin on.  Like the one behind my ankle.  Or the one on the top of my foot.  Or the tightness in my hips.  I don’t think any of it is serious, but it’s still not exactly something I want to mess around with.

I wish I would have had the ability to think ahead and stop myself at the lower mileage. (Or, truthfully, I wish I would have just pushed through the past mile and a half.)

As usual, my pace was very slow.  But I have decided to just forget about pace on my long runs, so I am not going to get mad at myself and pick apart my splits.

Today I went to the gym to run a few very slow recovery miles, and I was still in pain.  Not good.  I came home and iced my legs with frozen peas for the second day in a row, which helped a little, but I am still not feeling so great.

I am definitely going to have to back off a bit in order to recover some more. I can’t say that I am not pissed about this little turn of events.  But, I refuse to let this really slow me down. We will have to see how that goes over the next few days!

I ran 18 miles

Well, I started out fine. I was up at 5am on another Saturday and on the road by 6. Although as it turns out, it is getting harder and harder for me to gather all my crap for the long runs.  I was getting everything together and it suddenly turned into this huge pile:

water bottle, chomps, gus, garmin, ipod holder, and body glide (which I didn't actually bring with me on the run, but its a very crucial step in the process)

I looked down at this and had to take a picture to document it.  Also, there is no need to comment on my stellar photography skills. I already know.

The first few miles of the run felt great.  I was cruising and confident.

But then, things changed.  My stomach suddenly started to get upset.  That almost never happens to me on runs, so I was afraid it was a hydration issue.

I had been drinking plenty and had already had a gu, so I really don’t think my hydration was the problem (although, the wine the night before probably didn’t help on that front). The truth is, my stomach had been a little off all week.  Everyone in my office has been really sick and I was thinking I was getting it, so I am going to say that was the problem.

Whatever the cause of my stomach problem, though, it really slowed me down. The splits are too annoying for me to even properly look at.

I considered quitting about 100 times, but I knew I would be really really mad at myself if I did that.  So I pushed through it.  It was pretty ugly. I am sure I even had a few miles that were getting awfully close to 11 minutes.

This fact makes me even harder considering that my run on Thursday last week had several miles that were sub 8:00 minutes.

But I digress.  Once I finally managed to make it home, I really wanted to take an ice bath. Then I remembered that I live in Manhattan and I don’t have a bathtub. So I did the next best thing:

my legs look weird.

I iced my legs with frozen peas.  (Again, no need to compliment my photography skills.) The frozen pea method actually worked pretty well, because I really didn’t have any soreness. I also spent a good long time on the painful and wonderful foam roller,  which definitely helped ease some additional stiffness.

All in all, I’m glad I didn’t quit when I wanted to on this run, even though it was super slow and uncomfortable.  Because now I can say that I have run 18 miles, which is pretty awesome.

This blog is quickly becoming just a weekly recap of my long run, but as it turns out there is much more to training than that, so I am going to work on writing about other things as well. Like I said last week, it’s a work in progress!

Only 12 miles?

When did 12 miles become “only 12 miles”? I don’t know exactly, but 12 miles was my plan for today.

I slept in pretty late, feeling the need for extra rest, and finally got out the door around 8:30. The park was packed. Today is the 5th Avenue Mile, so there were tons of people around. I stopped for a bit to watch some of the action, and it looks like a fun one. I’ll have to put it on the bucket list.

Anyway, once I actually started running, I remembered that 12 miles is really far.  I guess I had forgotten.  It certainly did not feel like “only 12.”

It was hard.  And it was humid.  Really, really humid.  I realize that I often complain about the humidity, but I really hate it so I am going to continue complaining.  Probably forever, so you all can get used to it.

I swear everything was harder about this run.  I was slower, the air was thicker, my legs weighed more.  Also, my water bottle actually felt heavy.  It never feels heavy.  I carried the same thing last week for 16 miles and hardly noticed it, but this week I swear it was carrying some extra weights or something:

damn you heavy Nathan's!

I was also trying to save up some energy at the beginning of this run and work on the whole negative splitting thing.  I sorta did that.  A little bit.  Naturally, I started too fast, but once I realized it I slowed down.  After a couple slower miles I started to pick it up again:

But then, I hit Harlem hill.  Stupid Harlem Hill.  It really slowed me down, as you can see.  I should really focus more of my workouts on hills.

But for now, oh well.  I got the run finished.  I am surprised at how hard it was, especially since I have had really solid runs that were much longer than this, and because I have run a half marathon in only a few minutes longer than this.

That’s just how it goes sometimes, though.  And I know that.  The good runs are only good because you have to get through the hard ones also.  At least that’s what I tell myself.

And now it’s time to enjoy the weekend.  Have a good one!