Let the Countdown Begin

I seriously can’t believe that it’s been more than a month since I last posted. My focus has been completely on my health and running. Not writing or photography. So no photos tonight. My brain isn’t in that mode. I’m in the marathon countdown mode. And a lot has changed since I last posted.

This entire process, goal setting and training, has been a complete evolution. I set out with a main goal.  I wanted to run a sub-4:00 hour marathon. I worked my butt off. Speed training and intervals. The first few months of training were incredible. All highs. No lows.

The last month has been a mental rollercoaster. It started a number of weeks ago when I developed an upper respiratory infection right as I was preparing for my long runs, a couple of 18-milers and a 20-miler. They didn’t happen because breathing wasn’t happening. The infection hit me in the middle of a 18-20-mile training run. I bonked at 14. Which is weird to say. I ran 14 miles and was disappointed because I couldn’t breathe.

So I let myself heal. I think in that two week period I ran three times a week but it was a chore/challenge to get 5 solid miles in. Those miles felt like a marathon. At one point I thought I was running at about an 8:30 pace only to see that I was actually running a 10:30. Yikes! And worse, my confidence was rattled.

So after I got better I was setting up for my 20-miler and next thing I knew I suffered a muscle pull/strain in my leg. Another long run down the crapper and I thought that maybe my marathon was also dead. Luckily I’m a relatively quick/smart healer. After three or so days off I tested the leg on a track run and felt O.K. But by the next Saturday, I felt confident enough to try a long run. But I wasn’t going to run 20 just to run 20 since I was three weeks out from my marathon. So I ran smart. I put in 18 “painful” miles, knowing that I had a 10 K race the next day on a really hilly course.

And I’m glad I did. I ran on some pretty tired legs but managed a 56 minute 10K on a technically challenging course. Not slow, but not my fastest by any means. But I managed 24 miles in less than 24 hours. I felt pretty good. A little sore, but nothing out of control.

I’ve managed a number of manageable training runs in the 6-8 mile range since, feeling stronger with every run. I’ve been in taper mode for the last week plus, so the mileage is manageable, but the runs are more easy pace. I’ve also been dealing with out of control allergies that are threatening to turn into a sinus infection and a possible pinched nerve in my shoulder. When in rains, it pours. But it’s not enough to hinder my training. I ran a really strong 6.5 yesterday. I think I’m running four or less tomorrow gravel trails that are really a lot like the flat elevation I’ll be facing on Saturday.

I’m around 400 miles of training in. Maybe a bit more. However, the goals have changed. A sub four-hour marathon isn’t happening. I’ve come to the realization that I just want to finish. If I walk some, so be it. It’s still 26.2 miles. I don’t plan on walking, but if it happens, I’m not beating myself up.

Instead, I’m looking to start with the 4:30 pace group. I’ll stick with them for the first 14-16 miles. Then I’ll see. I’m hoping I can kick into my normal pace which is around 9:15-9:30 for 10 miles or more. But I will finish. I’m confident of that. I’m pretty bull-headed when I set my mind to it.