Week 39/52 recap
5 EZ – 5 EZ – 10 paced 1:44:16
Jim is so ready to rock his second ever half-marathon in a couple of weeks at the Hellbender Half Marathon. It was late 2012 when he ran his first Nittany Valley Half. His training that lead up to is was fine but allowed no step down weeks until the week prior to the race. Therefore, just 3 weeks prior to his race he was running his first 12-miler. This season he has run multiple 12-milers, a few 13-milers and peaked out a couple weeks ago with his first 14-miler. As his chalked finish line in the photo says, “Begin Taper.” Jim is going to be ready to race and recover so much better this year.
I really can’t say that I am faster or stronger for my marathon this time around but I think I am better prepared over all. It is easy for me to get caught up in the immediacy of my training and forget how far I have come since last November. I couldn’t walk a block without grabbing my lower back in pain, I left my volunteering position at the ING NYC Marathon expo because standing in one place for 3 hours without moving was killing me and riding in a vehicle caused my lower back to creak and ping with pain in my SI joint.
This time around I am coming back from dealing with moderate arthritis when in 2012 I was not. I am a completely different person running a completely different race this year. In 2012 each time I reached a new distance milestone it was a huge victory, a big deal reaching uncharted territories. This year I have a hard time not comparing myself to the times I reached those distances before. I am not too terribly far off but falling short feels like a defeat even though I am training differently, on different courses with a different set of challenges.
The 18-miler last week was tough; don’t let my smiling face in that kiddy pool fool you. I ran what I call my “NYC Marathon Training Course” that dishes out a solid incline at 15-16 miles just the way I will be hitting the Queensborough Bridge in 3 months. I ran the whole route very slowly because I pulled my calf on those same hills mid-June and have been healing from that ever since. I took the hills slowly and carefully, using my upper leg more on the uphills. This got me through the 18 miles but caused a slight groin muscle strain that I mostly recovered from this week.
A couple years ago, my first 18 miler was such a big deal that family road bikes along side of me cheering me most of the way. On a lot of my longs runs in 2012, I begged Jim to ride along with me and distract me with odd stories that were in the news. I asked that he put a treat in my half marathon caches, have a change of shirt, towel, back up sun glasses and an emergency kit containing things like ibuprofen and Vaseline.
This year I wouldn’t call my longer runs (~14 plus miles) mundane but they aren’t huge unknowns for me. They are hard, maybe harder than ever, and that might be partially because I am digging deep and relying more on just myself to get me through them. Last week, I really wanted to run the early miles a lot faster. Part of me wanted to get 18 miles over with as quickly as possible but knew I had to be careful about re-injury and kept a very slow pace and relaxed attitude the whole way. Hour upon hour running alone with myself can be demanding, soothing, grueling, empowering, nauseating, boring, amazing and transcending.
In three months I will certainly be towing the line on Staten Island for the NYC Marathon. I have selected the 7:00AM ride on the Staten Island ferry as my transportation to the start and chosen to forgo checking any baggage before the race starts. I have found some second hand warm up clothes that I will leave for charity at the start line or discard as I warm up during the first few miles of the race. My current training is solid thanks to the guidance of my coach Angie Spencer of Marathon Training Academy. I am determined to continue put in the work and deal with the challenges that come up. The next three months leading to the NYC Marathon should be exciting and I am ready for what they bring.