Most of my blog posts are my personal stories. They have a beginning, a middle and then an end where I state some sort of brilliant resolution or finish line achievement. This one is a little different because I don’t have the answer and won’t know the ending for a couple of weeks.
I knew what I had planned was ambitious. One marathon has always been a significant challenge for me but two marathons in a four week period is a brand new test. I know plenty of people who have tackled it…back to backs it’s called – it’s got a term so I guess it’s a thing. I’ve known all along that it would be hard and add some pressure. Still, I really wanted to be a part of the Saucony/ Competitor 26 Strong program and there was no way I was going to not run NYC after last year’s drama so I committed to two marathons for this season.
The first step to managing this goal was to make a plan. I always feel better when I have a plan. There are four weeks between the Smuttynose Marathon and the NYC Marathon so I had to come up with a schedule for the in between weeks. Normally after completing a marathon I practically stop moving all together. I might go to yoga and hang out in child’s pose most of the time or take extra long walks with the dog but that’s pretty much all. Historically I swear off running for up to two weeks to let my body heal from the race and then maybe I’ll go out for a 3 mile jog. I even take the dog and use her as an excuse to stop every half mile. This was not an option this season so the plan kind of looked like this:
I decided to register for the Tufts 10k that would be just eight days after Smuttynose. It was tough but I was able to hold a pace that was responsible and not terribly embarrassing. After that I ran a couple of times on my own and really struggled. My legs were impossibly heavy and my whole body was tired. I scheduled a run with my morning running buddy, Chrissy, and almost cancelled because I didn’t think I would be able to keep up with her. She wouldn’t let me cancel and we stayed chatty the whole time so I didn’t have a chance to focus on how uncomfortable I was.
The following weekend (this past Saturday) I wanted to run 12 miles. I was nervous that it was going to be too difficult but I knew I could muscle by way through it. I wasn’t putting any pressure on myself to keep a certain pace and I would stop to stretch whenever I needed to. My friend and I headed out for run on an unfamiliar route for a change of scenery and while it was a little longer than anticipated and we both ended up with a couple of battle wounds (I may have hopped a fence scratching up my knee along the way), it was still fun to bring some creativity to long run. I would have hoped to feel stronger along the way but my legs just aren’t there yet.
So, as of today we are 11 days out from the race. The rest of the plan remains the same – a couple of easy 4 milers this week (yesterdays wasn’t awful) and an ultra conservative 8 mile run this weekend. Next week will be lots of rest, hydrating, and a couple of short jogs. I’ve received my starting corral and bib information and we are finalizing our travel plans into the city. Everything seems to be in place … except for my confidence.
There is still time. Who knows…I may feel fresh and ready to go by November 3rd. Still, I’m holding on to a goal of crossing the finish line in under 4 hours and nervous that if I don’t make my time goal I will finish the NYC Marathon disappointed. It might be time to add a new element into the plan and work on my mental preparation for what the race might feel like. The NYC Marathon is historically one of the best in terms of spectators and crowd support and it’s in a city I love. How do I allow myself to focus on the joy of running the race and not on my performance? I have about a week and a half to figure that out. I’ve already tried a shopping trip to lululemon for a new race top and while the shopping was successful I’m not sure it was the answer.
I’m welcoming any and all words of advice and encouragement. Feel free to share your experience with goal adjustments or pre-race anxiety in the comments below.