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Monday, April 26, 2010

the 5 week countdown begins...

The Burlington, VT marathon is 5 weeks from yesterday.


And something very strange it happening to me.



Suddenly, I am eating really, really healthy. I mean, I'm a healthy eater anyway, but this is ridiculous. Oatmeal, without any sweetener. Everyday. Happily.



Apples with peanut butter instead of graham crackers or handfuls of pretzels or leftover kids' meals. Smoothies instead of granola bars. Homemade granola with flax and plain yogurt instead of artificially sweetened "light" yogurt.



But the truly drastic part is that my sweet tooth is very quiet right now. Not a hankering for a cookie, cake or ice cream. Not even for chocolate.



(Ange, please don't get in your car and drive over. I know it sounds pathological but I will be ok.)



I look at food and think, "Will you make me run better, faster, stronger?" And so I eat oranges for dessert (2 or 3 at a time) instead of ice cream. And bananas like a monkey. Out with the sugar and simple carbs- in with the sweet potatoes, quinoa, brown rice and whole wheat pasta. Out with the Fiber 1 bars- in with the trail mix and protein shakes.



I'm falling to pieces.



But there's more.



My mind is playing tricks on me. The longer I have to run, the easier the shorter (but still really freaking long) runs seem. Now that I have completed the monster 18 miler, 12 or 14 doesn't seem so bad. (Emilie uses adjectives like "little" and "cute" to describe 12 mile runs. Funny, but kind of true when you're faced with 18 or 20.) I think this is the only way to actually accomplish such a lofty goal as running a marathon. You have to have pockets of your mind that assure you it isn't that bad, that difficult, that hard.



Advice #1 for anyone training for a marathon: train with marathon veterans, preferably women.



This pack of women I am lucky enough to have fallen into stride with are amazing and they have taught me everything- about the magical elixer called "Gu" that takes my body from the brink of exhaustion into overdrive, how many days before the marathon to cut my toenails (thank you Christine), how to deal with chaff, suggestions for training with a leg injury, compassion on all issues of parenting, childcare and training, info about running attire, cold weather, warm weather, hydration, sleep and they would probably even do my taxes if I asked. After I missed my 16 miler because Maya was so sick one of them even offered to take my sick child so I could make up my run.



But their biggest gift to me is that they have taught me that distance running has less to do with your body and more to do with your mind.



These running ninjas have figured out that the best way to attack a long run is to break it down into a series of short runs. Case in point, for yesterday's 18 miler, we had decided to do a 4 mile trail race (the Epic Sports Rabbit Run) in the Bangor City Forest and incorporate it into our mileage. So we parked our cars 7 miles from the forest, ran there, did the race (and they had thought ahead to leave a car there and we were able to refill our Camelbaks and refuel with bananas and Luna bars) and then ran 7 miles back to our cars. Voila! A 18 mile run that never really felt overwhelming or out of reach. And it was fun to run a race in the middle!



(Okay, I'll be honest. Part of what was fun about that was seeing people who were tired at the end of 4 and feeling so super proud that you had run 11 and were able, even excited to run the last 7 back.)



I've started dreaming about the marathon. In one dream, I couldn't find my bib number and there was only 5 minutes to the start. Everyone around me chipped in frantically to help me and it was found with seconds to spare. The night before long runs I sleep a restless, wakeful night as I have repeated dreams about my alarm not going off and waking up at 11am and realizing the run was already over. (As if THAT would ever happen in our house.)



I also had a dream that I ate slice after slice of red velvet cake the other night and I have NO idea how that fits into any of this.







Best of all, I feel ready. I feel like I could do the marathon now if I had to.



For as much time as all of this takes, I am a little bit overwhelmed and saddened by the idea of not having a training schedule or a big event that I will be working toward when the marathon is over. I'm not sure if I am afraid I will turn into a couch-sitting, TV-obsessed, french-fry-eating and soda-drinking slouch or what but I feel like I will be a bit lost when I wake up on May 31st.



I want to know how I am going to secure a weekly nightly sleep like the one I have after a long run when training is over. It is like the sleep of a baby (but not of the restless, frequently waking baby that we have), a sleep no drug could produce and I don't want to be without it.

I love to know there I shoes I have run into the ground, waistbands that have lost their stretch from miles upon miles and a camelbak so smelly with sweat it had to be laundered. I have so much to show for this 13 weeks so far, beyond an inflamed thigh muscle, scars from sweat and friction on my skin and some serious power in my lower extremities. I have experience. I have pride. I have belief in my abilities.

I pulled up to our meeting place for our Saturday long run, beeping my horn and waving madly. The women waved back and Christine said to Emilie, "What a geek."

Yup, that's me.

5 comments:

Emilie@onemominmaine.com said...

"For as much time as all of this takes, I am a little bit overwhelmed and saddened by the idea of not having a training schedule or a big event that I will be working toward when the marathon is over."

Spoken like a true addict. Welcome to my life. I give you a week before you've set your sights on the next marathon.

I love doing this with you, and I would totally do your taxes.

Christine Nichols said...

well, you nailed it. There's a point with all this exercise that you need goals. I did the Trek a few years, then Trek and Dempsey century and still not enough! Now I've thrown in a little light running and the time trial series. I need the goals and finding I need the competition. It's an interesting evolution.

Angela said...

I have an idea... How about I do all your taxes cause you guys ROCK!!

So, so proud of you and your gang!

Thanks for the disclaimer... I did grab for my keys :)

Jeannine said...

Kickin' ass and takin' names... you GOOOOO girl!!!!

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