Am I Really Ready For This?

I have recently been getting asked whether or not I feel ready for Sunday. And the answer is: yes and no.  I know for a fact that I will finish the marathon, even if I have to walk/crawl the last 2 miles 5 miles 10 miles.  But I still don’t know if I exactly feel ready for it.   In terms of physical training, I think I have prepared as well as I could have.

As I have mentioned before, I basically did all of the planning and training for this marathon on my own.  I did a lot of online research (aka googling) before deciding how I would train. All of the beginner programs have the same basic principles, so I ended up combining a few and creating one for myself.  It’s not very scientific or even specific, but it worked for me (or at least, so far so good…)

Basically, I ran about 5 days a week.  Tuesdays and Thursdays would  involve some sort of speed/tempo/hill element that I made up, Wednesday would be shorter and easy, Saturdays were long runs and Sunday was for recovery runs.  I also usually went to the gym for weights/cross training on Mondays, but those were often very half-hearted workouts, and I almost always rested on Fridays.  Sometimes I would end up taking an extra rest day on Sunday and running on Monday instead, but I didn’t stray from my normal pattern too many times.  My peak running week got up to 47.25 miles, which is low for many runners but on the higher end of the typical recommendation for a first time marathoner.  I only did a 20 miler once, something I have questioned quite a bit (and would most likely would change in the future), which was 3 weeks before the marathon and right before I started tapering.

Here is my very sophisticated and tech-savvy method of recording workouts:

This is only the last 2 months of training, but I had been building up mileage for a long time before this.  I honestly only started using these calendars to keep a record of the amount I ran.  It was easiest for me to just print out some calendars and map out when I wanted my longest runs and then form everything else around that.  Everything on there was really a general guide and I often didn’t follow my own plan very closely.

Now with all that said, I could have used a lot more time to work on my speed and to build up to the marathon a little more sensibly.  I think the truth is that there is no way I would ever go into my first marathon feeling like I am 100% prepared.  But as I said, I think this was the best I could have done in terms of training my body for a first marathon on my own.

The real question is whether or not I am ready for all the rest of it.  I have no idea how my body will react after 20 miles.  I may hit the wall.  I may get complete jello legs.  I know I will get crazy pains in new places.  I could get a little voice in my head that says I can’t do this.  And unfortunately, that’s the stuff you can’t train for.  You can work on being mentally strong and pushing through obstacles to some extent, but I really don’t think its possible to train for everything you are going to go through during 26.2 miles.

I am still in the process of forming my goals and will talk about them later, but I can tell you that they will be pretty conservative.

So once again, am I really ready for this marathon?  As ready as I will ever be, I think. Now it’s just time to trust myself and go for it.

How marathon training has changed me

Before I started training for a marathon, I had heard stories of all the fun things that can happen to your mind and to your body by the time you finish. Several people had also told me that the whole process tends to take over your life, but I didn’t really believe it.

I was wrong.

First of all, I have spent a ridiculous amount of money on running clothes and gear. Whoever said running is cheap (me, in the past) is wrong.

Things I have bought that I didn’t have before marathon training include: a Garmin, a spibelt, a foam roller, new running shoes, numerous Gu packets, countless Nuun tablets, several new shirts and shorts/capris, lots of new socks, and a pair Yurbuds.

FYI, Yurbuds are awesome earphones that stay put, no matter what.  This may be hard to believe, but when you are sweating for over 3 hours, your earphones can fall out of your ears.  Yurbuds don’t do that. They stayed in place during my entire 20 miler in the rain.

These new purchases are now taking up the majority of my small bedroom:

Three pairs of running shoes. I rotate and use them all.

My wonderful foam roller. It hurts so good.

In addition to all of this new stuff, there have been a lot of other changes.  Especially to my body. Here is just a little sampling of fun things that have happened:

  • My feet are disgusting.  Like really, really disgusting.  I will spare you a picture, so you will just have to trust me.  Yes, I have already lost one toenail, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I lose another.  I know this really grosses some people out, but it honestly doesn’t bother me too much.  It’s easier without that toenail.
  • My leg muscles are bigger.  I can tell a difference when I put on some on my jeans and boots.  I am not surprised at all by this development, and I don’t really mind it.
  • I haven’t really been weighing myself, because I want to eat based on fueling rather than the scale, but I can tell you that I have not lost weight.  I don’t think I have put on very much either, but I do know that I have added a couple pounds of muscle.
  • I have obviously been hungrier.  I have finally gotten used to dealing with my hunger and knowing the best way to deal with it (lots of protein, eating often).  In the past I only ran to eat, but I am finally understanding how to eat to run. Though, I will never, ever be someone who gives up candy or wine or any of the other delicious treats I enjoy.

I’m sure you are all glad that you now know that much about my body.  I got to thinking about all of these things during my run this morning (splits below), but I am sure I am missing lots of other gross changes.  Don’t worry, I will keep you updated!

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!

What do you think about while running?

I often get asked what I think about while I am running.  Doesn’t it get boring?

The short answer is no.  Not really.  My mind finds all sorts of things to think about.  In fact, this morning as I covered about 7.5 miles, I spent a good long time thinking about what I think about running.

I think about how far I have gone and how far I have left to go.  I try to find a way to cut the run short.  I think about how I can squeeze in extra miles.  I think about my day.  I think about the other runners.  I think about changing my Pandora station. I think about the weather.

I think about November 20th.

Sometimes, what I see during my run can influence what I think about for a while.  For example, when I see this building:

Good morning, Met Museum

I tend to think about how I have really been meaning to come visit for a while.  Isn’t there a new exhibit that I have been wanting to see?  I will come check soon.  I swear.  It’s so close.  I really loved my art history classes in college.  What was that professor’s name again?  I should have taken more art history classes.

And so on.  You get the picture.

There is also a very special thing that happens sometimes during a run where I think about nothing. It becomes just about running and breathing and moving, and those are the most peaceful times.

So, to answer the question – I think about everything.  Also: I think about nothing.

But for now I have to get going to work.  My apologies for the super short posts recently. Enjoy your Tuesdays!

A 4:38 mile?

As I have said many times before, I am not the fastest runner.  I have never claimed to be, and I can very very confidently say that I never will be.

Which is why I burst out laughing when I saw this little gem as I uploaded my Garmin stats this morning:

See that 4:38 pace? Yeah. Ridiculous. And absolutely inaccurate.  Hence the laughing.

I know for a fact that I will never run at 4:38 minute mile.  It’s just not in the cards for me. Silly Garmin.  At least I got a good chuckle.

As for the rest of my run this morning, it actually felt great.  I covered about 8 miles. I knew I wanted to start slower and eventually finish the last few miles pushing moderately hard.  I did just that:

As per usual, I started to run before I got satellite reception, so there was about a half mile before this. And I turned the Garmin off for the run/jog/walk home from the park. Because I am sure you all care.

But in general, I am pretty pleased with this run.  I felt good and worked hard.

It’s strange that I covered roughly 8 miles for a mid-week training morning run. There was a time, not all that long ago, when 8 miles would be my weekly long run.  Funny how things change.

So anyway, that’s all for now.

I am going to go brainstorm ideas for new pictures in this blog, because even I am getting tired of seeing stupid effing screen shots of my Garmin stats. Good god, I need to switch it up.  It’s a work in progress.

Running in new places

Long time no blog, again.  I know.  I’m gonna work on it.

Anywayyyy.

This past weekend I ending up going to Pennsylvania to visit my family.  It was a last minute trip, so I didn’t have much time to map out my running plan.  I knew that I wanted to run about 15 miles for my long run, but that was it.

I didn’t know where I would run.  I had somewhat of an idea, but not really.  I have spent some time running there in the past, but never for 15 miles, so I was basically running in a general area and direction that I thought would work.

I also didn’t have the comforts of my usual pre-run food, usual water fountains and usual bathrooms.  None of this really hit me until I woke up on Saturday morning.  I had a mini freak out, but then I managed to get some solid pre-run food from my parents’ pantry and checked out Map My Run before I left.  Crisis averted.

As it turns out, I managed just fine in a location that was not Central Park.  I have always like running in new places because it’s a great way to explore, and this weekend reminded me of that.

Would you like to see the sights from central Pennsylvania?

green fields!

more green fields!

Exciting, huh?  It was actually really beautiful and very peaceful.  Quite the contrast from the crowds of Central Park.

True Story: I didn’t see a single other runner the entire time I was out there.  I did see this guy though:

cow! he is there behind the fence, I swear.

Yep. Just me and the cows.  It was pretty cold and raining periodically, so I’m sure I would have seen a few people had the conditions been better, but it was very strange to be the only one out there running. But like I said, it was also peaceful.

All this made me realize that it’s actually great (and important) to switch things up and run in new places.  As much as I am used to the routine of my Saturday mornings in Central Park, races don’t always happen there.  So I gotta get used to doing things differently sometimes.  And plus, it’s nice to see the family every once in a while 🙂

Why am I training for a marathon again?

That’s the question I ask myself almost every single time my alarm goes off.

I usually spend a few minutes having a mental fight in my own head, where I convince myself that this whole running thing is stupid, that no normal person should be up 5:30am, or that I can always just do the run after work.

Luckily, this morning I was able to remind myself that running isn’t stupid, that maybe normal people are not up at 5:30am but runners aren’t normal, and that I never, ever want to do the run after work.

I hit the road for a very very sweaty 4.5 miles.  It was super humid, and given the rain we’ve been having I really shouldn’t be surprised, but it certainly didn’t make my run easier.

It has been taking my Garmin forever to find satellite signal these days.  I am incredibly impatient and decided to just start running while it was still searching, and I ended up covering about a mile when it finally found reception.

These are my splits after the initial Garmin-free mile:

I was definitely trying to push the pace, and I am pretty happy with how they look. But then, my Garmin died.  The time searching for the satellite can be blamed on the Garmin, but the inability to properly charge it before my run has to be blamed on me. Oops.  So I also did a bit over a mile after this.

All in all, this was a pretty good run.  I was nice and sweaty when I got home and I pushed hard.

So now I am refueling with a chocolate chip muffin that I made on Monday.  With peanut butter on top, of course.

dessert for breakfast!

There is nothing like eating chocolate in the morning.