Wednesday, February 21, 2018
My next marathon is now less than four weeks away. When I think about it, my reaction is somewhere between 'holy crap' and 'finally'. Last Sunday I had to tackle my final MP workout of this training cycle which consisted of a two mile warmup followed by eleven miles at goal marathon pace and then a one mile cool down. My family and I are up in New Hampshire this week for our winter break which meant I had to squeeze this workout in around Rosie and Grace's training schedules and my own work schedule. Always a bit tricky. Unfortunately, I was also going to have to do it inside as the roads up in Lincoln are in pretty bad shape and the sidewalks are totally out of commission. As you can imagine, I was not looking forward to fourteen mind-numbing miles on the belt. But, at the same time, I wanted, no I needed to get myself fired up for this workout. I knew if I went into it feeling the way I did...dreading it, if I'm being honest...that it would be significantly harder to get through. So, I decided to use it as a dry run and treat it as an actual race. Sure, the circumstances were a bit different and not ideal, but if I've learned anything over the years it's that race days are often unpredictable. I haven't actually raced since December, which feels like forever ago, and since I won't be lining up until March I figured this was my one shot to practice both my pre and game day logistics including things like sleep, fuel and hydration. It would also be a good way to get myself mentally and physically in the zone for the workout itself, the same way I would on race day. Okay, so game on. As I always do, I laid out my uniform the night before and made sure I had everything ready to go.
Was it going to be strange for me to run for over an hour in my race kit in a hotel gym? Yes. Yes it was. Did I care? No. I did not. Side note, as I've gotten older, I've found myself giving less and less thought to what others may think of me and my weird training habits. It's incredibly freeing. Not that I mind in the least if people laugh and point or stare in wonder. I probably would have, too. Sunday morning I woke up at 6:30 and got myself ready to rock. As she always does, Clover followed me around the condo making sure I knew she was there at all times. On regular race days, I like to sit and chill with her while enjoying a cup of coffee. Not happening. As I packed everything up (music, NUUN, towel, shoes), Clover basically gave me the stare down which translated to I see that you are getting ready to go somewhere and it better involve me.
Fair enough. My standard pre-race chill session would have to be a half hour walk with my coffee on the go. Not a terrible alternative. So, Clover and I went out and did our thing. Then when I got back, I had to wake Rosie up (takes about 5-6 attempts these days) and get her out the door and up to the mountain in time for her class. Again, not what I'd normally be doing before a race, but I had no choice in the matter. Honestly, it wasn't that big of a deal. The downside, however, was that I couldn't really give much thought to my workout and by the time I got back and could focus on it I didn't feel as ready as I would have liked. Oh well. Finally, around 8:30 I threw my Jaybirds on and started my music in hopes of getting myself fired up and race ready. But no. This is actually what I hear....Power on. Battery 20%. SHIT!!!!!!!! I realized that even though I'd charged my headphones all night I'd left them on from the last time I'd run with them. You have to actually turn them off to power them down as they don't do it on their own. I often forget to do it. I had about 45 minutes of charge left for a two hour workout. As you can imagine, I was really annoyed with myself. But, this was good, too. Now I knew to check and double check and there was no way in hell I would let this happen again next month. I was now pretty amped up, but not really in the way I'd wanted to be. I grabbed a back up pair of headphones and made my way downstairs. I needed to stop thinking and just get this thing done.
I hopped on the treadmill and started my warmup. I took a minute to just breath and settle down. Running in place was going to be brutal, but a view of the mountains didn't hurt. Plus, I told myself, this would be good practice for those mid-marathon miles (7-18ish) when the mind wanders and boredom sets in. These are the miles that are tough to get through and when, if it's going to happen, the wheels might (often) start to fall off. My goal was to stay sharp and focused while also relaxed from start to finish if possible. After my warmup I restarted the machine and bumped the speed up to goal pace. It was finally go time. When I started the workout there was one other person in the gym lifting weights so it was just me, my music and the view. I covered the display so I wouldn't be torturing myself watching the time and mileage tick by. I was going to have to get through an hour (or nine miles) before I'd have to hop off and re-start as the treadmill automatically shuts down after an hour. This was kind of a haze, but I've had to stop mid-race for lots of reasons (to tie my shoe, to pick up an iPod that I'd dropped, to get water, etc) so I figured I'd just treat it as such and try not to worry about it too much. At this point in my training, unless I'm having a bad day, goal marathon pace should feel tough but, at the same time, pretty manageable. When I bumped up my pace and started in on the workout, it's exactly how it felt, which was good. For the first four or five miles I just focused on my rhythm and let my music distract me. Around mile six, a couple came in and hopped on the treadmills next to me. This was good. I was happy to have people near me and pretended like they were racing along side me. Not that I said anything. I'm not that odd. A couple more miles in and a mom hopped on with her son, who was maybe 7 or 8, running (playing?) next to her. Great. Another distraction. Not that I'm usually racing 8 year olds, but still. The more the merrier. I was getting tired and looking around was helping me push through. Finally, at mile 9, as expected, the treadmill stopped. I stepped off and grabbed some water and then quickly got things started up again. For the record, I had made it the whole 9 miles without looking at my watch or the display. I was pretty pleased about that. Now, I just had two more miles to go which I knew I could power through. I was really tired and my legs were hurting, but I did my best to stay in race mode. With one mile left to go, I picked up the pace a little, as if I was finishing my last mile on the course. I was breathing like nobody's business at this point and I felt like the people next to me were trying not to look, though I'm guessing they might have been concerned. Finally, with a quarter of a mile left, I took the pace as fast as I could handle for the final stretch. I didn't hold my hands up as I hit the finish, but I wanted to. I slowed to a shuffle and composed myself for a few minutes before doing my cool down.
All things considered, things went really well. I'd made the best of a weird and kind of painful situation and learned some valuable lessons that I will take into account for my upcoming race day including:
1. Don't forget to turn off AND charge my Jaybirds.
2. If there is an area where body glide might be needed, it is, in fact, definitely needed.
3. Staying focused is hard and music helps me a lot. But there are currently some songs on my playlist that aren't doing it. Make sure to edit!
4. Be prepared but assume that anything can happen and be okay with that, too.
Listen to this:
Go Out Fighting - Dr. Dog