Less than a week to go!

My husband’s alarm went off at 6:00 this morning, and as I was trying to fall back asleep (I don’t wake up until later), my heart raced — out of excitement and nervousness for the marathon :). I fell back asleep visualizing the excitement of the beginning of the race. Nervous energy from everyone around the start, the cool feeling of crisp fall air (weather is supposed to be absolutely PERFECT, I am SOOO excited), etc. I’m getting butterflies in my stomach now just thinking about it!!

One week to go… wow.

I raced the “For Pete’s Sake” 5k on Saturday, which was a lot of fun. My legs felt really dead, though. I was surprised, because I feel like they’re getting their spring back on my normal/easy runs, so wasn’t expecting the tiredness/no-push-off feeling. I still managed an 18 flat, but it wasn’t easy or pretty.

Sunday’s “long run” was 13 with 2×10 mins of tempo in it. That felt effortless. I smiled throughout. How fun!! So I think the legs are coming around, they just probably aren’t rested enough to have the power/spring for a fast 5k.

This week’s focus is on recovery, sleep, hydration, and preparing myself mentally. One of the things I needed to do is look through my log from my last marathon. Here’s a quick recap:

For Des Moines, I logged 5 20+ mile runs, 2 that had 9+ miles at marathon pace, and 1 that had a couple miles at MP thrown in at the end. I had a lot more speed in that cycle (which would explain why this cycle I haven’t been able to race fast 5ks like I was then), but a LOT more up and down in mileage. I can’t tell you how many times my log said, “unmotivated” or “feeling tired/sick”. My mileage would be good for about 6-7 days, and then I’d have 2-3 days where I wouldn’t do much of anything.

Compare that to this cycle. I’ve had 6 weeks above 70 miles (vs. 2 for Des Moines). In the 12 weeks leading up to the marathon, I’ve logged 738 miles. For Des Moines, it was 669. If you just look at 11 weeks, the comparison is more stark: 603 miles for DM, 713 to TCM (I wasn’t able to run higher miles until 10 weeks to race day). I’ve had 4 20+ runs this cycle, as well as 2 19 milers. In a lot of these long runs, I’ve had a lot more tempo pace work — the intensity has definitely been much higher on these than during the DM cycle. Take the “Epic Sunday Run“, for example. I didn’t think a long run like that was even possible. Although I don’t feel as “fast” as I did before Des Moines, I feel much stronger. This could be because I’ve added in a 2x/week strength session into my training plan (still can improve upon that, but it’s a start), or becuase of the amount of tempo work I’ve done. I feel strong and efficient when running 6:00-6:30 pace. Having done all of the tempo work makes marathon pace feel much easier!!

The one thing missing from this cycle has been that “wow, look at what I’m doing! look at how I’m racing!” feeling. I’ve lost that mental positivity, which is a huge edge when racing. I’ve been really working on this the last few weeks, during every workout and race. It’s getting better. For exmple, when I ran at tempo pace on sunday I made sure to concentrate on how effortless it was, feeling strong/fit/fast, etc, pictured myself feeling that way during the marathon, and I found myself smiling to myself during the workout — need to do that more often!! I still have a lot of work to do, though. Take the 5k for example — I should be really happy with an 18 minute on legs that wouldn’t move! Instead, I found myself thinking: Would have liked to have been faster, wonder why the legs aren’t feeling good?

I know the mental game will come. I need to remember how well this cycle has gone (just look at the comparison to DM’s cycle!) and that I CAN and WILL have a great race at TCM.

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