I guess you could say tonight is Marathon Training Eve – I start my first official training run tomorrow! I’m so excited to start but also very nervous. Let me explain – per my nature, we’ll focus on the positive at first. 🙂
Why I’m Excited:
I have been running really solidly since January. For the past several years, running was something I did once a week, in conjunction with all the other kinds of workouts I love (dance classes, strength training, spinning, etc). I am not a good runner (yes, this is the positive blurb but this is an honest fact!), so I’ve always done a run/walk ratio. When I started running I was running for 2 minutes, walking for 2, and within a year or two I was up to a 5:2. This year, on a whim, I decided to see how long I could go at a 6:1 ratio, and ended up running straight through a half marathon in April maintaining that pace. I was thrilled. I’m a total turtle out there (the only people I ever pass are walkers and/or the elderly or infirmed), but I am very steady (my splits are nearly identical from run to run) and I usually feel pretty strong.
Why I’m Nervous:
Let me count the ways! For starters, running is such a mental game for me, and if I let the voices in my head get the better of me, I’m down for the count. I try to keep distracted – music always helps, of course, and so does maintaining my ratio because it means frequently checking my watch and counting out how many more minutes I need to run, when I can walk, etc – but it’s definitely a challenge to stay positive (which is kind of hilarious because in real life I’m probably one of the most optimistic people you will ever meet). My poor little tummy is a whole issue in and of itself – I have a very sensitive stomach and I never know how it’s going to behave. At this point I have it worked out where I’ll eat a banana before a run and will fuel with shot blocks and water every hour I’m on a course, and while USUALLY that works, it’s definitely not a sure thing. I have to be really careful about when I run and I have to account for how recently I ate and what exactly I consumed. And even when I’m super careful my tummy can turn against me. So I tend to get really nervous before long runs.
The biggest hurdle I have to overcome is a past attempt to run a marathon. Back when I lived in DC, I trained for the Marine Corps Marathon and had to cut it short during the race. I’m only now realizing that even though I trained with a legit group, I wasn’t running nearly as strongly as I should have. There were so many things that just didn’t quite go right that day – the weather, for instance, was so much warmer than expected; my running partner got a blister early on so we had to stop by the medical tent. The crowds were great but sparse during a particularly tough part of the course; I missed seeing my friends and family at the spot where they were going to cheer for me. The biggest challenge was psychological – I knew that we had to be over a particular bridge in a particular amount of time and right around mile 15 I realized how much more slowly we were running that day vice during the training runs – I just felt defeated. So I quit around mile 17. Ever since then, if anyone has asked me about running a marathon, I very carefully say that I trained for the MC Marathon, because that part is true – I just never completed it.
So I guess Chicago feels like an opportunity for redemption, and for proving to myself that this is something I can actually do. I don’t honestly know if that’s true – but we’ll find out!