In the last weeks of marathon training there are some major milestones that highlight the fact that the race is fast approaching whether you are ready or not. One of the first ‘reality checks’ is one month and/or four weeks out from the race. Somehow a full month sounds like more time than 4 weeks when you only need one hand to count down your long runs.
The next major step is the super long run. Three weeks before race weekend we (and by we I mean almost every runner registered for the race and then some) take to the course for a 20+ mile training run. My team takes busses to the start line in Hopkinton and we run to the top of Heartbreak Hill in Newton. I ran about 21.5 miles and while it was a slow run for me I still felt like I had some fuel in the tank when I hit the hills. If that is any indication of what I’ll feel like on race day, I’m going to be okay. With this in mind, at a post run lunch I walked over to Marathon Sports at the finish line and bought a 2014 marathon jacket. I didn’t get the orange one everyone has been complaining about. Instead, I grabbed this retro looking track jacket – Adidas Boston Marathon Anthem Track Jacket. It’s going to hang in the closet until race weekend at the earliest but then I may never take it off.
While each day that goes by we get closer to race day it was another big moment when on April 1 I flipped the page on my At-A-Glance and suddenly the race was right there. With the race on the same page I can physically see it getting closer every day. It’s surrounded by massage appointments and marathon weekend plans making it ever so clear that the clock is ticking.
All of these countdown steps are part of the process of preparing for the marathon I’ve been training for since last year but for me, the most important ‘we’re almost there’ marker comes in a few days. Soon we will be at ten days out, officially time to OBSESS ABOUT THE WEATHER! For my entire distance running career I have become completely preoccupied with weather forecasts the last week or so before a big race. I’ll have a half dozen weather apps that I check and compare every day either desperately waiting for an undesirable prediction to change or making sure an ideal forecast doesn’t shift. How much wind? Percent chance of precipitation. Temperature. What will it be on race day?!
I am fully aware that any weather predictions made this far in advance are not at all accurate and I have been burned by changing reports many times in the past. It also creates completely unnecessary stress. In 2007 the forecast called for a nor’easter on Sunday night/ Race morning – it was very windy and wet but it cleared up by mile 5 or so. In 2012 when I opted to not run a spring marathon, the temperature was predicted to be in the 80’s causing the runners to panic and many deferred to the following year. They were right – it was super warm and the runners struggled with the heat. When I was preparing for the Vermont City Marathon in the spring of 2013 the weather looked amazing – partly cloudy and mid 50’s. Then closer to race day they started forecasting rain and I waited and waited for it to change. It poured all day Saturday and Sunday morning. The sun came out a couple of hours after I crossed the finish line.
Still, I can’t help myself. In full disclosure I have already been checking accuweather.com’s extended forecast (a little too sunny/ 54) earlier this week but it’s the weather.com 10 day forecast that I’m waiting for. I’ll check it multiple times a day until we are within one week and then all the local meteorologists will start with their predictions. My favorite is Pete Bouchard from WHDH in Boston, I’m certain that he and his team will be offering some thoughts on race day conditions within the week. I’ll obsess over that too.
Will the weather change my race strategy or plans? Probably not. I don’t think I play this game in order to anticipate my race; it’s more of a ritual to mentally prepare. At this point in training there isn’t anything I can do to physically be more ready. I want to get plenty of rest, pay attention to my hydration and try to stay healthy…and watch the weather as we head into the final countdown.
Who else has irrational pre-race obsessions? Are you guilty of premature weather watching too?
Current Race Day Forecast (as of April 9):