1. So I’ve got this race coming up on Sunday, in case you happened to tune me out for the past four months ;)
Does anyone remember me at this time last year? How I was FREAKING THE EFF OUT over basically everything? I think I have done a remarkable job of staying level headed throughout taper up to this point. In fact, I think I’ve been more rational over the past two weeks than I had been at any point between the start of training and the 20 miler.
Exhibit A: I’ve had all sorts of random aches and pains for the past week and a half. My hip flexor was sore out of nowhere last Sunday and Monday. On my run last Wednesday, a fair portion of my left leg hurt in all sorts of weird ways. This past Monday and Tuesday, my right big toe was sore (or, if you want to be technical-ish, the metatarsal head of my first toe. Look who’s learning her anatomy!). In each and every one of these situations, I said, “You know what? It’s probably just taper.” I think my PT was shocked by this turn of events ;)
Exhibit B: Last Saturday, they were predicting thunderstorms for race day. Instead of FREAKING THE EFF OUT like I did last year, I said, “You know what? Last year on Monday and Tuesday before race day, they said it was going to storm, and it ended up being beautiful. I refuse to waste any emotional energy on this until at least Friday.” And then I got mad at everyone who was worrying about the weather for wasting their emotional energy. (I do wish the local meteorologists would come to a decisive conclusion, however. Every single day this week the forecast has changed, and I’m tired of the mind games. Pleeeeeaaaassseeeeeee no rain!)
My parents put various relatives on Bethany-Losing-Her-Mind Watch while they were in Italy and unreachable by phone (since I have a tendency of calling my mom over every single crisis, no matter how minor), and on Sunday night I was surprised by a phone call from one of my aunts, who was concerned that I hadn’t called, as she (unsurprisingly) had expected that I would have multiple mental breakdowns throughout taper. But I hadn’t! I was (and still am) doing just fine! This is my kinda taper :D
2. Lest you think I’m the picture of sanity, however, I’m happy to assure you that I and my pre-race germophobia have gone completely off the deep end.
Last Thursday, one of my roommates was coughing up a lung, and I immediately went, as one of my co-workers put it, into “full on Ebola mode.” After we ran the dishwasher Thursday night, I took two of everything–plates, forks, spoons, glasses, etc.–and have been hoarding them in my room to 1) make sure none of my roommates spittle them germs all over them and 2) to make sure I don’t have to touch anything my roommates and their germs may have touched.
This is just the tip of the crazy iceberg. All of my food in the fridge is double bagged. I think I’ve singlehandedly gone through a roll of paper towels in my aversion to touch anything anyone else could have touched (including, but not limited to, door handles, microwave buttons, the refrigerator, and so on). I now carry around my own towel instead of using the one everyone else uses in the kitchen. I even took out a brand new sponge that I’m also keeping with my dishes hoard, so as to avoid using the common sponge in the kitchen. And let’s not even talk about how frequently I now wash my hands.
I’m blaming it on taper so my roommates don’t think I’m totally insane (LOLJK. That ship sailed a loooooong time ago.)
3. Are you tired of marathon talk yet? Oh well!
So. Game plan/goals. Goal #1, as it always should be in my opinion, is to finish alive. Just slightly below that, however is Goal #1.1: to PR.
Realistically, I don’t think PR-ing is *too* high of an expectation. I at least have an idea of what I’m getting myself into this year, which certainly was not the case last year. I know the race is going to be a challenge. I know I’m going to be in a LOT of pain. That being said, I have, at least from a pace standpoint, had a MUCH better training cycle this year than last year. According to my meticulously tracked Garmin stats, last year I averaged a 10:42 (5.6 mph) training pace for the duration of my marathon training. This year, I’ve averaged a 10:20 (5.8 mph) pace. (I’ve also run 30 less miles in this cycle and logged nine less runs, but let’s not worry about that ;) ). I only couldn’t keep up with my pace group on one long run all summer, and I’ve seen more 9:xx miles in this cycle than I ever imagined possible. I really believe I’m capable of running this marathon faster than last year.
Goal #2: Stick to my plan if I need to walk. One of the things that I think destroyed me last year was not being prepared to walk and not having an effective way to maintain any sort of decent pace while walking. Thus, my plan for this year, if I need to walk, is to start with a 4:1 run:walk ratio that I will not deviate from, not even for aid stations (which is not to say that I’ll skip the aid station, just that I’ll run through it if it happens to coincide with running minutes if I’m using my run/walk plan). If that becomes too much, I’ll switch to a 3:2 run:walk ratio, and if (heaven help me), THAT becomes too much, I’ll switch to a 2:3 run:walk ratio. My method last year was “walk until you think you won’t die, and absolutely walk through every single aid station you see no matter how not-on-the-verge-of-death you feel.” That was ineffective, to say the least. I’m hoping that having a plan and sticking to the plan will help me with Goal #3…
Goal #3: Finish in under five hours. 4:59:59 is totally fine by me. I actually dreamt on Monday night that I finished in 4:55, which would be just lovely. I just want to break five hours.
Goal #4: Run the whole thing through the corner of Damen and Van Buren. Last year, I started walking just a bit before we got to Damen, and I’d like to at least make it to Mile 15 (Damen and Van Buren, essentially) this year before resorting to my run/walk plan (ideally, I’d like to make it a lot farther than that, though).
Above all, I really want to enjoy myself on Sunday. Last year, I was nearly sick with nervousness in the week leading up to the race and for most of the race itself. This race is not the be-all end-all of everything: it’s a time to celebrate what I’ve worked for over the past 18 weeks. Regardless of what happens with my time, with the weather, or with my body, I want to cross the finish line crying tears of pride rather than tears of relief.
Who’s spectating at Chicago on Sunday?? Let me know where you’ll be and I’ll keep an eye out for you!