Friday, November 2, 2007

Two Days to the New York Marathon

For the two of you who actually still bother to check my blog (I think that's Steve and my mom), you've probably noticed that I've been a complete slacker about posting lately. I blame it all on the inordinate amount of time it takes to train for a marathon. Yes, I'm running the New York Marathon in three days, on November 4th - my first marathon. This week is the final "taper" week, which is my favorite part of race training. You don't have to run a lot, you generally feel really good, and you're supposed to eat up and build your glycogen stores. Less running & more eating - I am made to taper!

So, while I'm in the lull of this week's carbohydrate-induced well-being, I'm reflecting on all of the training time I've put in over the last four months. I'd better do it now, because in a week when I can't walk downstairs or stand and sit like a normal person, I'm not sure how warm and fuzzy I'm going to be feeling about the whole experience.

I said adamantly for several years that I would never run a marathon. Too long, too much running, too much training time. Didn't sound fun.

Then my friend Melissa said earlier this year that if she decided to run another marathon, she'd want to run New York (she's done Marine Corps and Cleveland). Suprisingly, these words came out of my mouth: "I'd run New York." Unless you run with a charity, entry to New York is through a lottery system. What do you know, both of us got in through the lottery, so heck, we had to run it.

My marathon training started with a lot of anxiety, because I was recovering from a strained Achilles tendon. If all the timing worked out right, my Achilles healed enough, and my sports doctor gave me the green light, I'd be able to start marathon training on schedule on July 16. Three non-running weeks, and a lot of ice packs later, I started training with some depressingly slow 3 & 4 mile runs.

After one week of training, I had some weird lower calf tightness, and I was convinced I would not be able to train for or run the NY Marathon. I spent the weekend at my husband's family's home on Martha's Vineyard, and I don't know if it was the healing essence of the Vineyard, or the soft, sandy wooded trails on my favorite run to Sepiessa Point, but all the tightness disappeared, my Achilles felt stronger, and I kept training, icing my Achilles day and night, even gimping around my office with an ice pack strapped to my ankle.

Sepiessa Point

Through all the four months of training that it took to get here, I got to run in some amazing places. First, but certainly not least are all of the great places to run here in Washington, DC. I logged more miles on Martha's Vineyard, and miles on Jacksonville Beach in Florida, on the Leif Ericsson trail in Portland, Oregon's awesome Forest Park, on the wind-whipped beaches of Manzanita, Oregon, and a few key miles on a treadmill in an open-air gym at a hotel in Mexico City. In an effort not to be too long-winded, here are a few observations about all this crazy training time.
1. Since July, I have run at least 330 miles to prepare for the marathon.

2. Worst run: 12.5 miles, Sunday, September 9. We'd returned from Mexico the night before. I was still suffering from some, ah, intestinal issues, but I knew I just had to get the miles in. I dosed myself with Immodium, brought along water and Gatorade, and set out on the C&O Canal towpath. I wanted to quit at 6 miles. No, 3 miles. I was dead tired at 6, and wondered if I could hitchhike home. But that seemed too embarrassing, so I kept running. After turning around at 6+ miles, I allowed myself to walk a minute at every mile marker. Well, maybe two or three minutes, or four or five... but I just had to finish the run. And I survived. I chalked it up as good training for how tired I might feel during the marathon.

3. Best run: 20 miles, October 13. This was our longest training run, and it was the best one because 20 miles is the furthest I have ever run. And I felt good at the end.

4. Worst part of the best run: Snagging the barest end of my right toe at mile 11 on an uneven sidewalk in front of a Safeway in Old Town, Alexandria, and completely wiping out. I tore the palms of my hand and my knees up pretty good. But again, I just had to finish the run. The Safeway employees let us use their bathroom & first aid kit, so I patched myself up and ran the 9 remaining miles, with blood caked on my knees and lower legs. I went out to brunch afterwards with the gory knees too.

5. Best post-run breakfast: The Black Dog, Vineyard Haven, Martha's Vineyard, MA. I ran 8 miles from the Kaufmans' house to The Black Dog, where I met the whole family for breakfast. If I could run every run on the bucolic country roads and trails of MVY and end up at The Black Dog, I'd be a lot more excited to get up for those early-morning slogs. Especially because the last half mile to the Black Dog is downhill!
The Black Dog Tavern

6. The sand on Jacksonville Beach when the tide goes out is the perfect surface to run on. The sand is hard-packed, but it gives just enough, and the beach is wide and flat. Listening to Bebel Gilberto as the sun comes up, and jumping right into the Atlantic after the run aren't bad either.
7. Most scenic run: This is tough, but I'm going to have to go with the beach at Manzanita, Oregon.
The Oregon Coast near Manzanita

8. Favorite things about running in Washington, DC: You have Jefferson and Lincoln all to yourself at 6:30 in the morning; the sunrise over the Capitol is amazing; the Marines and Army guys running stairs by the Jefferson & Lincoln aren't bad either; it's really satisfying to listen to the Ramones' "Bonzo Goes To Bitburg" and Green Day's "American Idiot" while pounding down the Mall in view of the White House.
Mr. Jefferson

I didn't do all of this alone. All of my crazy running friends, especially the Team Caveman peeps, have given me encouraging words all along the way.
Team Caveman at The Relay in Napa Valley

I've logged so very many miles with my friend Melissa, and we're going to run New York together on Sunday. This is Melissa's third marathon, and she tells me I can finish this thing, so I believe her. There's no one else I'd rather be running with for 26.2 miles. And when my non-morning-does-not-speak-before-coffee-husband Seth wakes up in the pre-dawn darkness as I'm getting up to run to tell me he's proud of me, and that I can do it, that's everything I need right there.

I can't believe I've survived all the training, and that I'm going to run this crazy thing in three days. I've never even watched New York, so I'm not sure I fully know what I'm in for with the bridges, the hills, the miles, and the cheering throngs of five boroughs. I can't wait!

Next week: the post-marathon play-by-play and Catalogue of Aches.

My marathon outfit. I'm going with the orange traffic cone look, hoping it will be easier for the fans to spot me.


Steven said...

you go girl, that's ahhh-sum

KVE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KVE said...

Hey Roberta!

I read your blog! :P

Hope the Marathon went well!!