I saw a blog post on the VCM website this week from an “elite” runner who was struggling with his running.  The writer commented about how the fun had been missing from his work-outs.  As a result, he felt as though he was floundering with his training.  I’m not in the same place as this person, but I have had a distinct feeling of change in my training.  As I’ve mentioned previously, running used to be done on my own schedule, at distances of my choosing.  I understand that not everyone sticks to their training schedule as closely as I have been adhering to mine.  I know that I can alter the schedule when needed, but I’m trying my best not to mess too much with it.  After all, I am a rookie marathon runner, and 26.2 miles is not a distance to be trifled with.  So, with this in mind, I headed out for my first 17 mile run on Saturday.  This was the first time that a distance has felt “real” to me.  Yes, 15 seemed like a lot of miles, but, for some reason, 17 felt more intimidating.  It’s almost like my brain had drawn a line in the sand and dictated that- “If I can run 17 miles, I can run a marathon.”

Seventeen miles? Really? Never, ever thought I’d run 17 miles.  It was just a year ago that I was excited to run 5 or 6 miles!  Now that I’m closing in on the actual marathon date, I’m already wondering what happens next.  Will I become one of the 60% of people who don’t run a second marathon? (a statistic that I can’t seem to confirm).  Will I continue to run weekly mileage that seems ludicrously high, just to maintain my current level of running fitness that I’ve worked so hard to achieve?  Will I be able to go back to my old days of running lower daily mileage and be able to feel good about it?  Come to think of it, this brings up a question that has been careening around though my head… Why do people run more than one marathon?  Explaining the first marathon is easy; I just tell people that I simply had no clue about the level of training and commitment that the marathon demands. But what drives runners, and a lot of them, to want to run another, and another? (If you have a great answer to this one, I’d love to hear your thoughts- Please leave me a message on my blog (802running.blogspot.com)

So, it turns out that my 17 mile day actually turned into 16.22.  I drove into town to participate in one of the RunVermont Hannaford’s group runs.  I thought that the miles would be easier if they were done with other runners, on flatter terrain than I have at home.  This logic might have held true if Mother Nature had been kinder.  The wind was whipping and the temperatures never got out of the low 20’s.  I was cold and tired, when at mile 13 I managed to, while walking around a patch of ice on the bike path, sink into a puddle of ankle deep water with both feet.  By the time the incident registered with my wind-chilled brain, I had taken several steps through the ice-cold water.  This misstep turned last few miles into quite the mental challenge.  I had really hoped to make the 17 mile mark, but once my car was in sight I couldn’t command my legs to go the extra .78 miles.  In fact, after running 16+ miles, I could barely command my legs to get into my car.  And now, the question remains… How will I manage to do this all again on race day, especially with an additional 10 miles tacked on top?

Now it’s onto another week of training.  Superman has Lex Luthor and Batman has a plethora of arch rivals.  Maybe, just maybe, my old nemesis, Mother Nature, will cut me a break as I head towards this weekend’s 18 mile long-run.

Until next week,