Well, it appears summer is officially over. My lucky streak of weekends off has ended, retreat has come and gone, and as of Labor Day, it seems Mother Nature has decided the warm weather out and crisp fall temperatures are here. Seems crazy... where did the summer go?
I have to say, I've been enormously lucky with my schedule this summer - both from a social aspect and marathon training. I've had weekends off to get my long runs in. Despite my odd hours at times, I could always find a time or a way to get my short runs in, but finding free hours on the weekends for the long runs (and the necessary recovery!) could have been quite difficult, and I'm thankful for how well it all worked out.
This weekend was the first time I got myself into a slight pickle with when to do my run... and of course, it was my peak weekend and therefore my most time consuming run. Thursday night I wasn't feeling particularly wonderful, and had just recovered from a tad of a hangover if you want the truth. I could either get up and suck it up Friday and run, despite the allergies/brewing cold, or I could wait until Saturday when I had just worked an overnight.
I opted for the Friday choice. So, I slept in as late as I felt I needed to, then got up and had something to eat an hour before running (far better plan).
I decided that I was going to do everything the way I plan to do it on race day - from my outfit to my hydration to my Gu packs - practice makes perfect. And so I took to the Lakefront path and began my journey.
It was cloudy and cool - probably about 58 degrees. To be honest, it was great running weather. I ran from my place down to McCormick Place, then all the way north on the path to where it ends on Ardmore, and back home again. In total, 22 miles, taking me 4 hours and 8 minutes.
First of all... how effin' empowering is that. I finished, and for the first time since training began, I was absolutely certain I could do this. I just need to run 4.2 more miles, and I'm there.
But there was something interesting about my run yesterday. I just fell into a great groove. My pace was very comfortable, and to be honest, the run felt pretty easy for the first 15 miles (how ridiculous does that sound?!). After that, the work starts to really kick in.
Turns out, there's something to that 20 mile wall. I was so jazzed that I had gotten to 20 miles, it wasn't really a mental game for me. It was just that by the time I hit 20 miles, my legs were pretty damn sore. Overall, I'd say the walk/run pattern is really good for me, and it definitely gives me stamina throughout the run. But by the time I get to 20 miles, I'm not sure that stopping to walk is very helpful.
I'm thankful for the rest and the easier ability to drink some water, but when my timer goes off and it's time to run again, the first few steps to get me back into my pace are quite literally painful. However, after about 30 seconds, your legs sort of feel numb and you keep on trucking. I wonder if on race day, I will just end up jogging the last 5 miles.
And so, I've peaked. It's downhill from here. This coming weekend will bring 11 miles, and the following a brief 6 miles, and then it's race day... which I honestly cannot believe. I owe an enormous amount of thanks to my friends and family who have supported me through all of this and have put up with my updates, blog posts, and troubles along the way. Without their love and support, I would not be able to accomplish this.
Remember... I decided to run a marathon because I never thought I could. Turns out, I think I'll be able to. We can all find a million excuses in our lives to put off things that we know we should do or things that are challenges for us. But in the end, we're only stunting our own growth. Mind over matter takes you a long way. 26.2 miles, to be exact.