It’s just 10 days away. Ten days until I run my first full marathon. I’ve run dozens of half marathons and relays over the years, but nothing this big. I decided to register for the marathon only two weeks ago, having just turned 40. Why not? It’s only going to get harder, some would say.
I was fresh out of an intense summer schedule, running in July on an ultra team for Cascade Lakes Relay in the Oregon high desert, and at the end of August, the Hood to Coast relay with an extra leg during the night hours. My body felt ready for a quick ramp-up to the big one: A full marathon.
And so I registered, and set about an increased workout schedule. “They” say to prep for a marathon, you need to be able to handle 45-50 miles each week. My typical 7-8 mile training runs, 3 times each week, needed to lengthen in both distance and frequency.
I typically save my long runs for the weekends. Two weekends ago, I pushed past the “comfortable long range” of 11-13 miles, and clocked in 16.5. I was surprised how far my body would take me. I’ve been aware for some time that when you feel you can’t go on, your body could actually take you another 30% further, so mathematically that worked out. I still couldn’t grasp the number in my head, though. I’d honestly never run that far before.
Then, last Saturday, I hit the road with some Gu gel packs and a water bottle containing a proprietary blend of apple juice, water, and a pinch of salt. For me, it contains the perfect balance of hydration, calories, and electrolytes. If you’ve never looked at the nutrition stats, apple juice is packed with tons more potassium than bananas or energy drinks. It also digests well. For me, at least. My route that day took me west, around the Hillsboro airport, and back towards the Nike campus in Beaverton, before returning home at an even 20 miles.
It was at the end of the run I noted a minor strain between my inner right ankle and the achilles. I took a shorter run yesterday at a slower pace, 7 miles through familiar territory, and the pain did not subside.
Then I realized it was probably not the wisest move to have done yesterday’s run in a new pair of shoes. I forgot the point of not trying something new (technique, equipment, dietary supplement, anything) in the weeks before a marathon, and my body was telling me, “TOLD YOU SO.” Right now, it’s calmed down, and while I do have a planned run for the morning, will keep it gingerly slow, and perhaps shorter on the order of 5 miles.
The art of the taper is something I’ve never dealt with. Those who know my running habits know I simply go for it and don’t schedule things out. I never want to hold back, though in recent months I have actively challenged myself to slow it down and enjoy the run more… and enjoy it more I have. The greatest challenge for me, really, is to force myself to slow down throughout the next 10 days in all things, to allow my ankle to heal up, while mentally prepping for that big day on October 4.
I’m sure that following this run, I will understand much better, the things I did correctly versus those I did not. I feel I am only at the start of a journey into truly long distance running. I’m not sure how much of it I really want to explore, but this opportunity is here, now, and I mean to carry it through.