THE END IS NEAR. It’s May. It’s finally warm. My calendar shows today’s date and marathon day on the same page, within three measly little squares of each other. I come home from runs lately with my face covered in salt, not ice. The 24th is coming, and it’s coming fast.
For months, now, I’ve become accustomed to saying, “I’m running a marathon,” which, depending on who I’m talking to, elicits a range of responses from the simple “nice” of the unimpressionable seasoned marathoners to the “that’s like 30 miles, right? You’re crazy” of the friends who consider “running” to be more a synonym for “pure hell” than an enjoyable pastime. For all of that time, the marathon has been a pretty distant end goal. Obviously, it’s the thing that I’ve been planning my training and eating and traveling and, okay, basically my entire life around, so yes, I have known that at some point, I will actually run a marathon instead of just talking and writing about it... but now it just seems so close. I’m doing this thing really freakin’ soon.
My coaches in the past as well as my VCM coach have advised me to “visualize my race.” I find this process to be very strange because when I visualize myself running, I am the only person present in my visualization--no other runners, no passersby, nothing. Just me. In reality, I’ll be running with literally thousands of people and being encouraged by a mob of spectators. I’m glad, because 22 miles by myself today was kind of lonely, even for an introvert, and even with the tons of people out enjoying the beautiful weather. My attempted visualization was a little bit more realistic because I ran mostly on the marathon course, but any way I picture it, actual marathon day will be something totally different from my expectations. I think I’m getting closer to being able to imagine it as something feasible rather than just a vague idea.
It occurred to me today that I’ve now trained in a pretty wide range of temperatures and terrain conditions. A difference of 95 degrees and about four feet of snow/ice/slush, to be exact. Only in Vermont do you worry about both frostbite and heatstroke in the same training cycle! While hopefully race day will bear the less extreme end of this range of experiences, I think that maybe getting through all of the ups and downs helps to create resilience and greater preparation. Nearing the end of marathon prep, I’m not afraid to go out and run in nasty weather--heat, cold, rain, snow... maybe not hail... because I’ve pushed myself to do it and proven that I can, and that usually, it’s not nearly as awful as I think it’s going to be. And that translates to a lot more than weather. It means that when things aren’t going quite as pristinely as I’ve visualized them, I can deal with it and keep moving.
Now, all that’s left is taper time. I have two (TWO!?) more double-digit runs to do, and less than three weeks of training. The past few months have flown by, so I’m sure this last little part will, too.
Until next time!