Saturday, October 1, 2011

So, it's (soon to be) off to the races

Today's the day - the day to pack it up and head to the race expo and get ready for tomorrow's BIG DAY. The Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon is tomorrow, and I haven't chickened out yet. Although, I must say, I have had a lot of thoughts along the lines of why did I sign up for this again? I guess that is to be expected.

So, am I ready? I have asked friends and my husband that question a thousand times, and my answer is stolen from the best of all the responses I have ever gotten - it doesn't matter at this point.

The first time someone responded to my inquiry with that answer I was a little taken aback, but then I realized the wisdom in that response. Asking someone if they are ready to run a marathon in the days leading up to the event is like asking a woman if she is ready for childbirth when the baby is already coming. Ready or not, here it comes.

Theoretically, all the training has been done. I've completed my long runs and built up to 20 miles, I've done my shorter runs, I've tapered according to plan. There's really not much else I can control. Things out of my control have yet to materialize: the kids' cold still seems to be theirs alone, my knee still hasn't completely fallen apart, and the weather actually looks good for tomorrow.

Now, I just have my own doubts and demons to deal with. A marathon is daunting for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that you just don't cover the goal distance in training. Most training plans have you only completing up to 20 miles on your long runs. While I understand the reasoning of this - the toll on the body, it isn't worth the risk of injury, etc. - it's still a lot of miles unaccounted for. I mean, it seems goofy to me to run up to 20 miles in training and then add an unknown 10K on top of it for your race. I don't really get it, but since I didn't have a better idea, that's how I trained, too. So, tomorrow I will play a little trick on myself that I have done before. When the starting gun goes off, I will run the unknown 6.2 miles FIRST, then do the 20 miles that are KNOWN. (Shhh, don't tell me it's all the same. I know this trick works.)

So, tomorrow's plan looks like this: I will wake up at 5:30, have my breakfast of Kashi Berry Blossoms mixed with Bear Naked Granola with Silk soymilk, a banana, OJ, and coffee; get to the start line with enough time to hit the porta-potty three or a hundred times; strip down to running clothes; do the drop-bag thing; and start shuffling forward when the gun goes off at 7:30 a.m.

Weather is supposed to be from about 40 at the start to 60 at the finish, sunny, with a 10 mph tailwind. So, clothing-wise, I think I'll be wearing shorts, but I'll take capris with me in case I change my mind at the last minute. The hat and shirt were Mother's Day presents picked out by my then 5-year-old daughter. I chose the pink compression socks to match. (It's funny how as I get older I am not quite so afraid of color as I once was). I am pretty sure I'll be replacing some of those GUs with some Margarita Cliff Blocks at the expo. I just didn't get a chance to buy any beforehand. Likewise, that Cliff shot double espresso will most likely be replaced with a GU Espresso. I haven't decided whether I'll go with the Ultimate Direction (larger) or Nathan (smaller) bottle. It will most likely be the Ultimate Direction.

(For a hobby/sport that is known for not requiring a lot of equipment/stuff to do it, it sure does get more complicated as a race approaches.)

The run plan is simply to run/warm-up the first mile and then go to the run/walk. I will once again be doing the 3:30-minute run to 40-second walk. That seemed to work really well at the half marathon two weeks ago, and while I don't think I can maintain the 9:41 pace I had, I would love it if I could manage somewhere between 10 and 11 minute miles. I don't really know if that is possible, but once again hope springs eternal.

As to goals, here is the breakdown of my three goals: the ultimate goal would be to finish between 4:40 and 4:50. The realistic goal is to finish just under five hours. The if-all-else-fails goal is to just finish and enjoy the experience. Notice I am not saying anything about finishing injury-free. As sad as it is, I have a good feeling I will have some injury to deal with when this is all said and done. But, I'll deal with it when the time comes.

So, that's it. Anyone who believes in the power of positive thoughts, well wishes are appreciated sometime around 11 a.m. Central Time tomorrow. Now, to get ready...

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