Ahh… so here we go. My first post.
Topic of course needs to be the Portland Marathon.
Six or eight months ago was when I first started toying with the idea of starting a blog. I was about to start training for the Portland Marathon, my very first marathon, and I knew the experience would be quite a journey. I had been posting notes on Facebook and what not, but it wasn’t giving me the outlet nor venue I was looking for. So I thought for sure I should just start a blog, and post along the way as I muddled through training for a huge goal. But somehow I never got my act together, and figuring it out just seemed like one more chore I had to do, when I was already having a hard time fitting everything in. So I never did it.
Now that the Portland Marathon is less than 2 weeks away, I feel a sudden desire to write, to say all the things I might have said had I been blogging all along. So here I am.
While of course there is no way I can catch up and put down all my thoughts and experiences these past months of training, I can probably summarize by mentioning just a few insightful moments during this journey.
I sort of feel like starting where I am right now. Sitting at home sick with a cold/flu type illness. It is totally freaking me out. I can’t be sick! I need to run 26.2 miles 12 days from now! I need my strength! I need to keep running! I wonder if the anxiety of the approaching date has stressed me out, lowered my immune system, and that’s why I’m sick. I also wonder if I just got overworked these last few weeks.
Portland has an annual “Bike Commute Challenge” city-wide, where people individually, groups, businesses, etc challenge themselves to ride their bike to work everyday for the month of September. My work group created a team and joined the event, which we have done in the past, but this year we were “challenged” by another department at my establishment. They challenged us saying that their team would ride more miles and ride more frequently than we could. So my boss, who is our Team Captain, took them up on this challenge and was encouraging everyone to ride, ride, ride so we could win, win, win.
I am not much of a bicyclist. Running is really my thing. Riding my bike is really just that, riding. For fun, to commute. Not for sport, not really used for exercise. I ride slow. I have a clunky, heavy bike, a mountain bike, that is not fit for speed on the roads. People regularly pass me on the street. I don’t mind. My point is that I’m a slow bike rider, not very bike fit. Riding is a challenge for me.
So as I started my bicycling to work on September 1st, it started out not so bad. But after just 3 or 4 days, it was tearing apart my quads. I know biking uses slightly different muscles in slightly different ways than running, but my quads were already overworked from running, and the difficult biking just tore them up! I could not climb stairs. I was limping as I walked. I kept riding though, I didn’t want to let my team down! I finally decided though, challenge or no challenge, I had to stop biking to save my legs for the marathon. I think I overworked myself and stressed out my body these past few weeks.
So here I am, on my taper period, trying to rest and get over this illness, trying to rest up my legs. Trying to get in the low mileage to keep active. I have a massage scheduled for Friday. Looking forward to that for sure!
I got sick with a cold one other time during my training. Back in June. Right about when my long runs got up to 13 miles. I was sick for two weeks. It lingered. I totally freaked out back then too. The illness set me back two weeks of training, right at the point where I felt I needed training most. I’ve run half marathons several times before, so going 13 miles was not a big deal to me. In fact, my training schedule up to that point was what I would consider easy. The weekly mileage and length of all the runs were what I’ve been used to for years. It was when the training plan got past the 13 mile mark was when I considered the program to start becoming a challenge for me, and that’s right when I got sick. The weekend long runs increased every week, to 14, then 15, and so on. So I felt like I was falling waaaaay behind by not being able to keep up. I ran a 10 miler the weekend I was supposed to do 15. And it was tough. I barely got through it. I was still not feeling well, and I did it in a very cold rain. That’s when my nightmares started. I started having bad dreams every night about running, about failing, about never being able to double my mileage from 13 to 26.
The bad dreams lasted for about a month. Somehow I just got over them and they went away all by themselves. Perhaps because once I was healthy again, I was able to catch back up to my program. But the nightmares were a significant part of this process that I will never forget. It’s really what made it sink in to me that running a marathon is very much a mental challenge as much as it is a physical challenge. My psyche was being challenged, and I buckled.
The mental breakthrough for me came when I first ran a 20-miler. Believe me, it was a painful 20 miles, that first 20-miler. This was also happening in August, our hottest month, in 80-90 degree weather, which is painful to me anyway even if just running 4 miles. But somehow, after I ran 20 miles for the first time, I suddenly knew that I could do it. If I could run 20 miles on an 85 degree day, for sure I could run 26 miles on a 55 degree day. I knew my body would be able to do it, and at that point my psyche believed it, and I knew I had busted through all the doubt I had in my mind up until that point.
So overall I feel pretty good about myself right now (even though sick). I feel I’ve prepared decently. I’m as ready as I’m going to be. In some way I feel like it’s already over, even though it hasn’t happened yet.
12 days and counting. Looking forward to October 9.