What to Do for My 26.2

I ran 20 miles today! It was my longest run in 5 weeks and I didn’t have pain. Of course, I ran at an average of 8:04/mile pace (2 mins/mile slower than my original marathon goal pace), and these easy runs have been pain free for over a week now. Still, I was happy with 20 miles of feeling good.

I’ve been really torn about this marathon. My husband and I have flights/hotel/race already booked and paid for since a few months ago. I decided I’m definitely running, but what is the strategy? Do I run the race all out? Do I run it as a training run, knowing I can probably run faster in a few months when I get back to some decent training? This is the dilemma! You see, this training cycle has been unlike any other. I trained hard postpartum. So hard! I had a body and mind of steel. There was nothing that could get in my way. I’ve never felt so unstoppable. Even when I thought I wasn’t trained to run the times I was running, I knew my mind could carry me through. I was feeling tougher than ever.

Then in creeps this non-injury, injury. I took a week of basically nothing. Pretty much what I would do after a goal race. But there was no goal race. Then I started rebuilding. I did the week of almost nothing. Then the week of 30 miles. I was shocked to get 54 miles of pretty much pain free miles last week and 69 miles of pretty much pain free miles this week, including my first long run in 5 weeks (!!!!!) a 20 miler. I know I lost some fitness. My original goal was crazy fast. I know I’m not sharp enough to hit that pace now. But am I sharp enough to hit a respectable time (for me) still? I know the answer depends on my mental state. This mental state that felt unstoppable just weeks ago is now feeling so fragile. I ask runner friends almost daily to help reassure me. I know if this happened to anyone else, I would tell them their goals were still attainable. They could still PR, even if they didn’t hit that super crazy fast goal time. But when I’m talking to myself, it’s a whole different game. Do you understand this feeling?

All I know is, today I ran 20 miles pain free. I don’t know what tomorrow will hold. Maybe I will be sore. Maybe I won’t be able to run. Maybe I will feel perfect. Maybe this week I will feel horrible and maybe this week I will feel good enough to test some tempo miles for the first time in 5 weeks. I don’t know.

I have 2 options. Run CIM as a fun race, enjoying 26.2 miles as a training run in preparation for something bigger and better later this winter. Or I can run this goal race as intended, albeit slower, but with ALL the fierceness I can muster on race day. Tough call, and time will tell.

Race day is 3 weeks away! Ready or not, a decision will be made soon.

No Perfect Marathon Build Up

Does a marathon training block ever go as planned? I don’t think so, but even if it does, will the race play out perfectly? No! We are talking about the marathon, the event that grabs a part of your heart and¬†fills it with love or stomps it into a million pieces. A marathon¬†demands respect, not perfection.

I’ve had a few glimmers of hope over the past week. A run where the spring and power in my right leg felt normal again. A “long run” of 11 miles which is the farthest I’ve gone in a month (though my leg didn’t feel great the rest of the day). And a hilly trail 9.4 miles where I kept my breathing labored for almost an hour straight. It was the fastest running and most hills I’ve done since my big glute flareup and I had no pain. The run gave me hope that I can run my marathon, less than 4 weeks away now, as long as things keep improving or at least don’t get worse!

I’ve missed a good 3 weeks of training, plus 2 weeks before the big flareup where I couldn’t get my workouts or long runs done the way they were prescribed. My last 4 weeks have looked like this:

4 weeks ago: 59 miles, 1 workout (10×2 min hard, 2 min easy) + half marathon DNF due to flareup.

3 weeks ago: 12 miles, 4 days no running, then all easy miles

2 weeks ago: 33 miles, all easy runs

last week: 54 miles! 11 mile “long run”, 9.4 hilly (800ft gain) trail miles at 7:37 pace avg.

I was really surprised to end the week at 54 miles last week and feel better than I have in 6 weeks. I’m feeling hopeful about being on that start line in just under 4 weeks, and it would be great to have a solid marathon performance, even if it isn’t as fast as originally planned. No buildup is perfect and this setback definitely set me back more than I expected. I’m just going to give this marathon the respect it deserves.