After months and months of training, I’m so glad that the Inland Trail Marathon is almost here. Due to my injury, my race day was postponed for 3 weeks. I’m grateful to have had the extra time to training, but the anticipation and worry that is inherent with any marathon has been wearing a bit on me. I’m looking forward to completing my second marathon and to not being consistently worried about stepping on Butters’ bone or suffering another freak injury!
On the other hand, I know that the weeks after a marathon can be pretty rough. I woke up on the morning after the Northern Ohio Marathon and thought, “What do I do now?” I had dedicated so many hours to training over the past few months, and I felt a bit purposeless when I woke up on Monday morning. I didn’t have access to a gym, so I didn’t do any exercise for 2 weeks following the marathon. Of course, all of the hours during which I used to be training promptly got consumed with work and I found myself feeling really burned out. Post-marathon depression is a real thing, folks! This year, I am grateful to have access to a gym, and I definitely plan on cross-training regularly during the next two weeks.
As far as goals for this race are concerned, my goal is to simply set a new marathon PR. I ran the Northern Ohio Marathon in 4:53:55, and I think that a PR is a reasonable and worthwhile goal. If I had to put a number out there, I’d be thrilled to run this at a 10:00 min\mile average pace for a time of 4:22:00. One nice thing about marathons on small trails is that I don’t have to worry about running tangents and winding up running much longer than 26.2 miles! I plan to take it easy and to intelligently use a combination of running and walking in order to prevent myself from reaching Miles 20 and beyond in a completely burned-out state. Last year, Miles 22-26.2 were brutal and while I certainly don’t expect them to be easy this year—after all, I’m running a marathon!—I am hopeful to reach them without feeling like I have nothing left in the tank. I would run without my GPS watch but I want to make sure that I don’t come out too fast and that I have some record of my time in the event that my timing chip doesn’t work.
To be honest, once the goal of a sub-4 marathon became out of reach, I began to wonder if I should even worthwhile to run a marathon this fall at all. For a second, it felt like a waste of time. Why have Sheila and my other family members sacrifice their Sunday morning to stand around in the cold weather to watch me do something that I’ve already done? Why keep on trying to fit my training into the few windows of free time that I have during the week? Why spend the money on gels, running tights, and other things I’ll need? I began to think about just pulling out of the race quietly and told myself that perhaps I should just call it a year and start healing and resting up for 2015.
As I thought about it, though, I realized that the marathon day itself is simply a celebration of all of the hard work that I’ve put in over the past 4 months. It’s the day on which all of those long, lonely runs during hot weather in the summer and rainy weather in the fall pay off. It’s the day on which all of the good food choices that I’ve made over the past few years become worth it. It’s the day on which I will run 26.2 miles and celebrate the fact that God has given me the health and dedication to go from being able to run less than three blocks without getting winded to being able to conquer distances that I used to only be able to conquer via car.
Rather than focusing on what I’m not able to do, I should focus on what I can do and celebrate the fact that I have the health and courage to even attempt training for such a daunting endeavor. Maybe I won’t be running a sub-4 marathon this fall, but Lord willing there will be plenty of other healthy training seasons and marathons in which I can attempt to do that! Finishing a marathon is something that is worth celebrating in and of itself, and I’m so thankful that I’m a point in my life at which I can have the privilege and honor to do that.
If you’re a praying person, I’d appreciate your prayers on Sunday morning. God’s power, strength, and transformation in my life is the reason why I was able to begin running in the first place, and it’s the reason why I’ll be able to cross the finish line on Sunday.
For those of you with races still on your calendar before the end of 2014, I hope your training is going well! Happy running.