And just like that, the hardest training run is completed, and I’m tapering now. The next three weeks entail running enough to keep up my aerobic fitness, but the mileage drops significantly.
I’ll be honest, I don’t recommend the training plan I used (Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 Marathon Plan). It didn’t really give me a good idea of what I was working towards, and I think that I ran way too slow on almost all these runs. I’m by no means fast, but I’m capable of sustaining a sub 10 minute pace for a 10k or so. But there’s no speedwork involved here except for “pace runs” on Wednesdays. But because I’m a pretty slow runner my marathon pace isn’t significantly faster than my normal pace. If/when I run another marathon, I will be sure to choose a training plan that has more track workouts and more tempo runs. A lot of times I felt like I was just running slow mile after slow mile without feeling particularly strong. But the proof is in the pudding. We’ll see how it goes June 18. I’m not expecting great things at all. Just finishing will be enough.
So far the biggest problem was when my iphone 5 started shutting down repeatedly. I could get it to power up when it was plugged in, but running in complete silence was tough. I felt panicked at the thought of 20+ miles without podcasts, audiobooks, or music. I even started splitting up my longer runs, so that I’d only run a few silent miles at a time. I tried hard to be meditative, but without the distractions of my stories I found myself stopping suddenly for no apparent reason. Also, I apparently breath really heavily, stomp as though I were wearing steel-toed boots, and I’m not sure if it’s my thighs or shorts swishing together. I finally got all my ducks in a row and got the iphone 6s. Big and a little bulky, it powered me through my run yesterday. I stayed hydrated, for the most part, and dutifully ate my jelly beans. Those last few miles weren’t pretty, though. I didn’t feel strong at all. I felt really bored and really slow. Surely adrenalin must kick in the day of the race. Please?
All the whining and anxiety aside, training for this race has been one of the grittiest things I’ve done. I haven’t flaked on my workouts, and I’ve enjoyed all the support from friends and students. I love telling people how many miles I’ve run and seeing the look of astonishment on their faces (this works best with my students who complain tirelessly about running a mile once a year in P.E.). And I eat just about whatever I want (within reason). I’m going to miss wiping out the week’s dietary indiscretions in one long Saturday run.