In less than three days, I will be running the New York City Marathon.
I started training for this race on June 28th. Actually, I started training for this race last July but had to defer my number due to injury. I took time off after my injury last year and started training again in January 2010 and I have trained for marathons this entire year. I ran Providence in May, took a short time off and began training for this race at the end of June. I didn't have the best training season, but it did start off well, even though the heat this summer was sometimes unbearable. I did 7 total speed workouts and 16 long runs. I did 10 Miles, 12.55 Miles, 13.1 Miles, 15.60 Miles, 11 Miles, 13 Miles, 17 Miles, 16 Miles, 10 Miles, 20 Miles, 11 Miles, 20 Miles, 10 Miles, 20 Miles, 13.1 Miles and 9 Miles.
I suffered a heartbreaking injury (heartbreaking because it was the same injury that made me defer last year- achilles tendonitis) on September 1st and adjusted my workouts because of it. Translation- I ran only 2-3 days a week from September 1st on. And eliminated my speed workouts.
During this training period, I suffered through runs AND I felt great on runs. I wanted to quit and drop out of this marathon AND I got excited for this marathon. I ran in 90 degree weather during this training AND 30 degree weather. I cried and wanted to defer again after a run AND I finished with a smile on my face.
I limped around after my first twenty miler and I iced my legs morning, noon and night. I barely wore heels at all during this training cycle. I sacrificed Friday nights out to run early Saturday mornings. I woke up earlier on Saturday mornings then I did throughout the week. I ran with new friends and old friends. I ran through the city and through the suburbs, through trails, on the track, on the treadmill, on marathon courses, in different cities, with people and by myself. I learned all about Twitter and "met" some people who are also running #INGNYCM. I found a running partner to start with and keep me calm. I even learned how to use the eliptcal and make it a workout, not just a way to read trashy gossip magazines. I built crosstraining into my training plan and went to Physical Therapy 1-3X a week.
I got through 4 months of training. Some days were successful, some were not.
Now the game plan. I've studied the course, I've read all sorts of race recaps from the website and several blogs. I got great advice from my marathon friend Adrienne. My strategy is to go out slow, something I've never been very good at. (Even in my track days, I always went out hard and tried to hold on...) But luckily, the first mile is straight up hill and I will have 45,000 runners surrounding me so I won't have an option other than to go slow. My plan is to run with Tara as long as I can (she is faster than me and has run a 1:45 half but wants to go out slow). I will see my family at Mile 8. I want to come through the half around 2:05. After that, I will hope for the best. I've run one of these marathons before and I've done enough long runs to know what happens to me after Mile 15. I begin to fall apart. My pace starts being inconsistent. But here it is, in writing. I am determined to not let my inner mind insecurities fail me.
I know my mile splits will increase after Mile 15, but I am going to TRY hard not to expect it to and try harder to avoid the bonk (read this article- its a good one). The Queensboro Bridge is a hill at Mile 16, but then we enter Manhattan, where my friends and family will be and where the loudest crowds are. I know there are rolling hills on First Avenue and I know this is a hard race, but I am determined to pull through and not give up. Mile 16-20 is all through the Upper East Side, the part of NY I know the most and then Mile 20-21 is in the Bronx, home of the Evil Empire. Then I go through Harlem where I hope to meet back up with my family. At 22.5, I enter the park.
I know it will be hard, I have no doubt in my mind. Even Kara Goucher talked about how tough the last three miles are..."In the last three miles I was hurting like I’d never hurt before in a race. I wanted to quit so badly, and if there hadn’t been so many people watching I probably would have quit—to my eternal shame. The fact that I not only finished but even managed to hold on to third place taught me the most important lesson I learned from my first marathon: you can handle more pain than you think, and if you just keep moving at all costs, you will make it."
But I love everything about Central Park and that late in the race, I'm not too worried about the little inclines. At that point everything will hurt but the crowds will get me to the end. I can't wait!
So let's talk Race Day Preparation. On Sunday AM, I will be putting on my first of many layers. My under Armour tank and my Adidas dri-fit BRIGHT Green LIZ shirt.
Then it's time for the layers. On Sunday November 7th, the weather report looks like this:
Perfect weather for the high, very cold for the low. I will be wearing a long sleeve t shirt, and two sweatshirts. I'll keep the long sleeve on until Mile 3. The others I will throw out on the road. I'll bring a hat, throw-away gloves and my Nike Ear-warmers and Gloves that I will wear for the race.
On the bottom, I'm wearing my Capri Nike Spandex and two pairs of sweats.
And what will I bring with me? (Not nearly all this, don't worry.) I'll have my Garmin, my iPod (which I hope not to use until the later miles), Energy Chews, Sports Beans, Shotblocks, my phone, gum, my waterholder, water and gatorade. Some of this stuff will be in a prepacked backpack my family will have. But I will carry one water, one shotblock package, one Honey Stinger Energy Chews, my phone, my ipod and my garmin. When I see the family at Mile 8, I will most likely give them my Nathan belt and grab one of their much smaller phones in case I need it.
Goal 1 is to finish. Goal 2 is to beat my previous time- 4:28:58. Goal 3 is to not have any miles go above 10:30. If I succeed on all those goals, then yes my real goal is... I would like to finish under 4:20.
But really I just want to work as hard as I can and enjoy the ride.
Wish me luck!