A recent article profiled a runner who qualified for the Boston Marathon in each of the 50 states. In my imagination, I envision his buddies offhandedly asking whether he wants to run a marathon next weekend, and this runner nonchalantly replying “sure, sign me up” in the same way that I would throw in for a 5k any given day of the week. In my vision, I am sure that he does not have to prepare, because he is always prepared. Unlike that guy, my warm up to marathon day is a 16-week haul, and I am only now closing in on the halfway point. I appreciate now more than ever that it is not just the race that requires endurance. Rather, it is the build-up leading to the race that requires the real fortitude.
Getting through the middle is hard. Enough time has passed and the initial euphoria has worn off, my feet have seen better days, and between work, travel, and family commitments, those long runs (that are just getting longer) take more of an effort to sneak into the schedule. Race day is only 65 days away, but when it is 99 degrees outside as I set out on a weekday training run, the chilly November marathon day could not seem farther away.
By analogy, it feels like I just finished my first 13.1, and I’m trying to locate some resurgence of energy that will help me complete the second 13.1. And when I say I want to “complete” the second half … what I really mean is that I want to conquer it, exuberantly.
Let me introduce you to my Five Point Plan to fire up the second half:
1. 10k Labor Day Race: It is time to take these legs out for a race day test drive. My regular runs now are in the 7-8 mile range, and my long runs well into double digits. I have never (ever) had that much base training behind me going into a 10k. Time to push it. Let’s see what, at age 45, this body can do.
2. Refresh that Playlist: There was a time in May when all it took for me to take it up a notch was “Welcome to New York” blaring through my ear buds and visions of Central Park dancing in my head. Sorry, Taylor, but that song isn’t doing it for me any more. For that matter, all of my Power Songs have gone stale. Time to reboot the playlist … perhaps starting with the addition of “Go Big or Go Home”…
3. Stalk New York: I live in California but I am in love with NYC. Whenever I see a photo taken by someone training in New York, every time I get a glimpse of that city, it energizes me. Time to start binge watching the New York shows … Today, When Harry Met Sally … I may even stoop to Real Housewives of New York if it will give me a glimpse down First Avenue before I arrive for the race.
4. Connect with My Runner People: I have an amazing support community – my coaches, other runners in the NYRR virtual training group, and most especially my husband who has been my anchor, my biggest cheerleader, and is and will be my running companion through the end. But I have a whole untapped stable of passionate runner-friends whose enthusiasm for the sport, and endurance sports in general, is unmatched. Fair warning, dear friends, I’ll be calling on you for further inspiration.
5. Practice Gratitude: I read an article by a woman who dedicated each mile of her marathon to someone important to her, and clicked the names off one-by-one on a bracelet she wore on race day. I do not have a fixed list, but there are names. Most especially, I think of those who would love nothing more to train for and run this race, or at least share the experience with me, but who no longer are able to do so. I run for me, but I also run for them. And that always will give me strength.
So, friends, there’s the hit list. Feel free to add ideas for inspiration … or at least a few 80s songs to throw into the mix.