Monday, October 1, 2012

Waiting is the hardest part

6 days to go until marathon #11, 4 days of work, one or two more short easy runs, one more acupuncture treatment, a few hours on a plane and the fun begins Friday morning in Chicago with a huge group of all my running friends.  The anticipation is building, anxiety and excitement.  I've been here before I know what to expect, but it never makes it easier.  As my brother said to me two years ago as we drove the course of the Portland Marathon, "26.2 miles IS FAR!"  Nothing left to do now, but menatlly prepare for the journey ahead.  Training is done.  Good or bad, I can't change anything now.  I can go over it a thousand times in my head - I wish I would have done something different and I wish that run felt better or I wish I pushed harder or I wish I did more cross training and strength training and I wish I didn't eat so much ice cream this summer.  It's all behind me now and the only thing to do now is rest, try to relax, and hope for good weather.

Before I get there, I have done a little preparation leading up to this week.  Two weekends ago, I ran the Wicked Half Marathon in Salem, MA.  It's a nice challenging course with rolling hills.  I'm still a little nervous that my foot will bother me during the marathon so the half was a good test.  And since I've basically taken the last month and a half off to rest and treat the injury and pray for the best possible body to make it to the start line on October 7th, I am not really sure how my pace will be and if it will be a good race or a complete shit show.  I used the half as a barometer to gauge how my body would react to the miles and to predict my potential performance in the marathon.

I got to the race really early, it was still dark out.  I was able to park right across the street from the school where the packet pick up was and where the start/finish was.  I had time to use the bathroom in the back of the gym that no one had discovered yet.  Only part about getting there early that sucks is waiting.  I walked around and chatted with a few other runners.  Dropped off my warm layers in my car and went to the bathroom one more time, by that time the secret was out and there was a line.  Anyway, ready or not, the race started and I was off and running.

I started the race conservatively and just wanted to feel it out and see how my foot felt.  It was a little sore to start, but within a mile or so it loosened up and felt ok.  I still tried to tread lightly and din't really push the pace.  I had passed these two girls talking and they noticed a younger girl in front of us wearing fitted capri running pants that hugged her curves in all the right ways.  They said something like, "I wish my ass looked like that."  I looked and briefly thought the same thing, then I thought, screw that!  I have a nice ass too and it's running just as fast as that girl.  So, my mantra for the race became "I am beautiful, I am Strong, and I am powerful!" (and I'm running just as fast as that skinny bitch, hahaha)

By the time I passed the water stop 5 miles into the race and took my first gel, I felt awesome and decided to pick up the pace a little and see what I could get for a time.  The course wrapped around the neck of Marblehead and the hills out there are brutal, but before I knew it I was passing mile 7 and headed back towards Salem and I was feeling amazing.  The perfect ass was still just ahead of me, but I kept her in my sights and after mile 8 I was feeling really strong and powerful so I passed her and her perfect ass.  Only 5 miles to go!

I held onto that pace and continued to pass people.  With just a few miles to go I couldn't believe it.  I felt great.  I was thinking to myself, my acupuncturist is a friggin magician!  My foot was totally better.  I noticed a little soreness in my legs, but that might be because this was the longest I had run since I did 13.1 in my half ironman a few weeks before.  I didn't care because my main concern, my foot, felt fine.  I passed the last mile marker and wanted to cry I was so happy.  I was passing people left and right and still picking up my pace and about to finish really strong.  I wasn't even pushing as hard as I could because I could talk, I passed a girl wearing a really cute Lululemon top and asked her how recently she bought it and if they still had that color in stock.

I rounded the last corner and now there was just about half a mile between me and the finish line.  I looked at my watch, not a PR, but right on target to finish where I wanted to be before the marathon.  I kicked a little harder and pushed giving it all I had to get to the finish line and stop the clock.  I crossed in 2:11 averaged a 10:05 pace.  A lot faster than my half ironman run and a lot faster than I expected.  Confident and really happy, I am totally ready for the marathon.  Most of my fear about my foot vanished and the fear that I wouldn't be able to run the marathon was gone completely. 
I was a little sore after the race and I walked around a bit and stretched.  The runner's high began to wear off just as I met my friend for a smoothie and a cup of tea at the Salem Life Alive.  My foot was a little achey, but not so bad that I couldn't walk on it like it was after my 20miler.  Nothing that a few more acupuncture appointments and some rest couldn't fix.  After catching up and chatting over some tea, I headed home and celebrated the run with some treats from Trader Joes.
The following week was crazy busy at work and I had another acupuncture appointment Tuesday, then a short easy run with Kim Wednesday.  Thursday I had a plumber come over to look at the broken radiator pipe in my living room.  I was stressing out about the estimate because I have no concept of what it should cost and what's involved to fix it.  It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought.  He said he could order the part the next day and fix it sometime next week in about two hours for a total of about $180.  I mean I would rather not have to spend that money, but I'm extremely excited it's just $180 and not another zero on the end. 

I hadn't been sleeping great so I decided to go home and relax Friday night.  Saturday morning was a group run with a few of the people going to Chicago so I wanted to be well rested.  It worked, I went to bed early and woke up in a puddle of my own drool feeling so rested that I was a little woozy and dreaming that I was drunk.  The weather was cool and rainy, so a few people bailed on the run and not as many people as expected showed up.  I was bummed for two reasons, I wanted to meet some of the people I didn't know and I knew the people that did show up were a lot faster than me.  I ended up just doing 5 miles out and back.

I got home afterwards, showered and put on some warmer clothes and made some soup.  It was a perfect day for soup.  Totally yucky out.  Passed out on my couch watching TV and went to bed early again because Sunday I had a 5 mile race to go to.  My friend Sarah was the race director and it was her first event so I signed up and told her I'd be there to support her.  When I woke up I had to take my resting heart rate 3 times because I didn't believe how low it was - 44beats per minute.  Amazing what a good night sleep will do for you.

The weather had gotten worse from the day before.  I was hoping that it would clear up, but when I drove to the race the rain started coming down even harder.  The urge to bail was really strong.  I didn't want ot get sick before Chicago, but I told Sarah I'd run so I got my number and sat in my car to stay warm and dry.  It was only 5 miles, I could do that in my sleep.  With half an hour to go before the start I decided maybe if I ran a little first to warm up it wouldn't suck so much.  My ankle was kind of bothering me and it felt better to run than to walk so I jogged around and did about a mile before the start.  I saw a friend from my old job and stopped to chat with her and in the distance people were starting to run, I said "is that the start?" and she said, "yeah but it's the 5 miler, we're running the 5K", to which I responded, "crap I gotta go I'm doing the 5 miler!"

I ran past Sarah at the start and she said don't worry you'll catch up.  The course was hilly.  Nothing ginormous, but a few long inclines that slowed me down a bit.  I thought to myself and smiled, "Chicago is flat."  It was a very pretty area and they had the roads completely closed which is nice.  It went by pretty fast and I finished in about 46 minutes.  I'll take it!  9:20 pace a week before the marathon and feeling good.  I'd say I'm ready.  Great race and good to see a few friends too.  Wish I could have hung out a little longer, but I needed to go grocery shopping and get some dry clothes on.  Apple Harvest 5miler - definitely a race I will run again.

So, the countdown is on.....6 days to go!  This week will go by painfully slow and I will just want to go and then the weekend will go by way faster than I want it to.  I know the drill at this point, but have to remember to take it all in and enjoy every minute of it.  Sunday will be exactly 5 years from the day I ran my first half marathon.  Hard to believe that back then I laughed at the idea of running 13.1 miles and thought my friend Jenine was insane for suggesting it and now I am about to run my 11th FULL marathon.  I have run 25 half marathons since then not including the two 13.1 mile runs in the half ironmans I've completed.  CRAZY!!!!! 

I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!!  The next few days will not go by fast enough.  And then it will be time to RUN!

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