The Marathon – Final Race Prep Thoughts

Over my final four weeks of training for marathon #2 I’m sharing some thoughts on the marathon. In week one I wrote about What it Takes to Train for a Marathon. I explored the time, commitment, and genuine love for distance running that is needed to successfully complete a marathon training cycle. Two weeks ago I started to experience Taper Madness. Last week I talked about Race Day Strategy. Now, with the race just 48 short hours away, I’m giving my final thoughts on race prep and race day.

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I woke up early, threw on my running clothes and headed out the door. Just a few short easy miles to shake things out. One final run to get the legs moving. This week wasn’t about fitness or training, it was about recovery and maintenance. My last week of training always makes me a little sentimental and I try to savor the final run of training. To be honest, I didn’t even feel like being out there this particular morning. I tried to relax, enjoy it, and think a little bit about Sunday’s race.

Last training run
Last training run

The weather for Sunday’s race is warm. It should be around 60 degrees or warmer at the start, an entire 30 degrees warmer than last year (though I’ve said many times 30 degrees is a bit too cold of a start for me). It’s unseasonably warm for Columbus, but not the first time it’s been warmer for this marathon. Talking to another friend earlier this week he said he felt it wouldn’t be a big deal, but thought he could hit a better time if the weather was cooler. Of course it always feels easier when it’s cooler, but warmer temperatures doesn’t mean it can’t be done. I threw my taper-tantrum about it on Monday and then Hanna helped me come to my senses. Race day is different. The crowds, the adrenaline, the patient champions. We’ve all trained through a much hotter summer than last year and a much hotter summer than Sunday’s weather. For some reason we all cling to the weather as either the perfect set up or perfect obstacle for race day. There’s no doubt that very extreme temperatures in either direction can have an impact on race performance, but when it comes down to it a lack of preparation is a lot scarier thing than the weather.

I’ve prepared, there’s no question about that. For 18 weeks I’ve hit the ground running 6 times a week. I’ve put in over 670 miles during my marathon training. I committed to strength training over the entire 18 weeks. I am a much different runner than when I started almost 5 months ago in many more ways than just my fitness. However, in taper world none of this matters. This week has been a roller coaster of ups and downs. Moments of feeling like, “I’ve got this. I can do this” followed by moments of “Oooooh fork.” (Anyone else watching The Good Place?)

So as others continued to whine about the weather throughout the week, I let it go. I moved on. There’s nothing I can do to change it. I know how to dress for it and I just have to go for it. I’m not going to let the weather hold me back from running my best race or scare me into believing the work I’ve done isn’t enough. Instead I began focusing on the race ahead. I watched the Facebook Live Stream Q&A. I visualized the course. I made my “Just in case I need it” playlist for the quieter miles in the second half of the race. I talked to friends about preparing for the race. I thought about my pacing strategy.

I think doubt before a race is normal; I think it may even be healthy to have a little doubt. I’ll be nervous until I start running and nothing anyone says will change that. It’s been a great training cycle, but 26.2 miles can throw a lot of obstacles at a runner. I’m prepared. I’m ready. I’m also realistic.

“The human body can do so much. Then the heart and spirit must take over.” – Sohn Kee-chung

I’ve been putting a lot more pressure on myself than last year. First races at any distance are great because the goal is truly just to finish strong. Now I’ve been working hard towards a goal. My goal has some cushion to it which has helped me feel a little less stressed about it, but I want to hit it so badly. I want more than a PR, but at the end of the day I know I would just be happy with a PR even if it isn’t my goal time. Ultimately, I know that at the end of the race I’ll be proud of myself for finishing my second marathon no matter the outcome. I know that I’ve done all that I can to be ready and I do believe I am ready to hit my goal, but wanting it so badly and knowing it’s not guaranteed makes it so scary. The fear and doubt and excitement is what makes it all worth it, right?  However, I don’t think anyone that truly puts their all into their marathon training wants to just finish or just have fun. We want more than that and that’s why we work so hard, but wanting it badly is what makes it fun.

I’ve spent time getting my bag check gear ready. I did a little cleaning around the house in preparation for my parent’s arrival. I put my race day clothes and nutrition aside. Today I will head to the expo and pick up my race bib and t-shirt. I seriously have nothing left to do, but relax and mentally prepare as best I can.

I am going into this race knowing I’ve done everything I could to prepare. I’ve put in more time, sweat, and effort into this training cycle than ever before and I plan to build on that moving forward. I’m terrified, but also excited. The next 48 hours will probably drag along, but these moments leading up and through race day are the very best part of it all.

So that’s it for now. Here’s a little inspirational video my training group likes to pass around right before race day. Best of luck to anyone racing this weekend in Columbus and beyond. Run hard & have fun!

 

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6 thoughts on “The Marathon – Final Race Prep Thoughts

  1. This sounds exactly like what I was writing/thinking in the week leading up to my 2nd marathon. So much so, it’s almost eerie. I remember wanting my time goal so badly that nothing else seemed to matter and feeling like I would be so devastated if I didn’t get it. I appreciate your honesty in those ambivalent feelings – it’s easy to say that we’ll “be happy and proud no matter what”even though deep down that may or may not actually be true. We want to be happy no matter what but as you acknowledge, when you spend months working toward a goal and using that goal to motivate you, how can you not get invested in the outcome? Going into second and third and fourth marathons means navigating some emotionally rocky turf. Having a time goal and striving for improvement are exhilarating, challenging and motivating, but it can also lead to some unpleasant places. At the end of the day, you’re going to feel how you’re going to feel. It’s all part of the ride.

    As for the rest, well, you’ve already heard my thoughts on most of it! One thing I like to say is embrace the nerves and the emotions – even the unpleasant ones. Even in the stressful moments, this is a special time and one you’ll look back on with fondness once it’s over and life is normal again. Just try to soak it all in, as hard as that is sometimes!

    1. Sometimes you write things on your blog that I felt like I wrote myself. It IS eerie. Thank you for your support and friendship and especially thank you for your email earlier this week that made me feel so much better!

  2. Believe in yourself and all of your training! You’re going to do great! If you’re reading this before the race, know that I ran a HM in warm temps yesterday and it had no effect on me. It’s defintely due to all that summer training. Now go rock that course!

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