Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pre-Race Thoughts

I'm still anxious about the Minneapolis Marathon tomorrow, but I'm also very excited. Running 26.2 miles is a brand new distance for me and I took training as seriously as one could, but I can't be sure things are going to go as smoothly during the race as they have these past 18 weeks. I can be sure, however, that I have a good time.

While I have been carbing up, resting, and hydrating extensively the past three days, I decided to pull up my exercise log from the past 4 months to reflect on everything I've accomplished. Training, just for this race, I have:

Run 518.8 miles
Biked 184.5 miles
Swam/Glided/Rowed/Othered 20.7 miles

I kicked ass in a 7k and did a half marathon in a downpour. I trained in below-freezing weather and in high humidity heat. I logged many miles alone, and also a lot of miles with a few new friends. I completed marathon training and didn't drop out. I might have substituted a few workouts for others, but I didn't miss any days.

The last 4 months of my life have been a checklist.

It feel like I put in a good amount of physical work, but I'm wondering whether it was indeed enough to allow me to cover more than 26 miles in one shot. I think I'm probably physically capable, but -- even the day before -- I still find myself questioning whether I am mentally ready.

The support I have received this week has been awe-inspiring and motivating. My office has 24 people in it, and with two women having babies on Wednesday, one resignation on Wednesday, and two leaving for marvelous vacations on Thursday, I still received e-mails of praise, many "good luck" chants as I walked by others' doors, and so many words of encouragement as I left for the weekend. With the life-changing week my office had, I was fine thinking my race would go unnoticed. That wasn't the case at all.

Many friends have also mentioned well-wishes on their Facebook and Google Talk statuses yesterday and today, which has been a fun surprise. One person sent me 26 letters of encouragement, as well as a bunch of noisemakers to give to friends. You guys have left endless amounts of optimism and "You can do it!" posts on my blog. Thank you all ... so, so much. It has been awesome to hear how many people have confidence in me; it has made the mental aspect of the race a little easier to grasp.

The coolest good-luck orange ever, from my best friend's girlfriend.

I headed to Race Village this afternoon to pick up my bib number, timing chip, free schwag, and a bunch of excitement. I laid out everything I need for tomorrow a few hours ago, made a list of what time I need to do things in the wee hours of the morning, and have gone over the details of tomorrow over and over in my head. Everything except the race, that is.

Is it bad I plan on sleeping in my "Finisher" shirt tonight?

I'm bringing duct tape just in case. :)
Tomorrow morning I will be driving myself to the start line way too early since I'm most nervous about finding parking. My parents, some good friends, and a couple of coworkers have graciously given up their morning to cheer everyone on, and a few have told me where they will be along the course. I can't wait to look for their smiling faces. Because I have no faith that my legs will work after running a marathon, a friend's fiance will drive my car and my beaten body home. I will have my ice bath, recovery socks, protein smoothie, salty soup, and fluffy bed ready for me once I get back.

Just like a wedding (or so I've been told), I know tomorrow won't go as smoothly as I would like it to happen, which is why I haven't visualized the race much at all. Every experienced marathoner I've spoken to have said the same things to me: "Quit setting goals for your first marathon because you'll either destroy them or they'll destroy you. There is no in-between." "Hug everyone you know and high-five those you don't. Don't worry about this adding on another minute -- you'll be glad you did it." "You will never have another first marathon; savor every moment."

Thus, I have attempted to delete every time goal I secretly thought I could achieve. I am no longer looking at this marathon as a race to be completed as quickly as possible. I certainly don't plan on walking most of it and taking lunch on the course, but I am looking at this race as my first marathon: a distance I've worked really hard to cover and be proud of. If I don't go into this race thinking it's going to be a fun challenge, I'm not sure I'll ever want to take the time to train for another 26.2-mile run again.

Since finishing in set amount of time seems frivolous compared to the fun I'd rather have looking around and taking in the sites than staring at my watch, my "goal" for this race became clear: To be a marathon runner. I ran my first half marathon with the goal of being able to say, "I did it!" and realized I hated the entire thing and had no motivation to do it again. Because of that experience, I definitely don't want to just "finish" this race. I want to give it my all. I want to run the hardest my body will let me. I want to have fun while doing it. I want to be a proud marathon runner.

In every regard, I never thought I'd be here. And here I am.

Also, I want to wish a very happy 12th birthday (that's a spry 64 in cat years) to the most amazing little man in my life. He's one of the few who hasn't given me crap about giving up "our time" for this sport, when he was the only one rightfully able to do so. :)

Sir Chachi Bunches, you are my favorite. Happy birthday, old man.


  1. Coming out of the woodwork to send some more well-wishes your way! I found your blog a few weeks ago and it's been great to read about your experiences and preparations. I'm doing my first full marathon in October and am very much an "average runner" and I'm vegan too!

    Best of luck tomorrow!! You'll be great! I'll be virtually cheering for ya, and looking forward to your race report!

  2. Good luck tomorrow! I will be cheering for you:) Keep your feet moving, breathing regulated and stay positive!

  3. good luck today!! you will rock it!!
    looking forward to your race report.

  4. Looking forward to the result of all your hard work. Very organized layout of the gear, by the way.

  5. Would love if you could send the pics to laura at 50by25 dot com. I can't wait to read your race report!