The Countown Is On — And It’s Short!

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Laurel and I jogging along the Willis Ave Bridge with our guardian run angel, Nigel.

We’re less than a week away from race day!! Can you believe it? I cannot. But I am sitting here drinking all of the water and eating all of the pasta and oatmeal so that I am fully hydrated and filled with glucose come Sunday.

The scary part of the training is done. There’s nothing more I can do to prepare…just a few things I could do to mess it up. But we will focus on the positive, which brings me to my list of runs since I last wrote. (I clearly failed at the regular blogging thing; hopefully the other half of my goal — enjoying and doing well in the race — will turn out better.)

The 18 Miler
As mentioned, I was home in PA for this toughie and I got my dad to bike along with me, which was AWESOME. There’s a tree-lined trail by my parents’ house and because my dad was nervous to bike on the main road, we did nine miles out and nine miles back to make the 18. I was nervous about that at first, but it turned well thanks to the steady chatter along the way. It was so nice to have someone along who wasn’t huffing and puffing and could clearly keep the convo up. (He did mention at the end how tired he wasn’t. Thanks, dad, I was dying.) It was also nice to have him carry my water, Gatorade and Glukos gummies. I could just ask for a little pick-me-up when I needed some fueling and he was there to hand it over. Such a kind soul.

I averaged about a 10:15-minute pace for this run, which was slower than my others, but I think that’s why I felt so great by the end. I even sped up a bit during the last mile. It definitely gave me an awesome feeling of accomplishment. I think that’s the great think about training — you already feel like you did something you never thought you could do. With each longer run, you achieve a new goal and that’s a motivating feeling.

The 13 Mile “Recovery” Week
I ran the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon for this training run and man, did it suck. The good news is I scored a PR. I finished in 2:04, which was 10 minutes faster than my quickest half so far. (I was hoping to break two hours, but, oh well.) I don’t think I was mentally prepared to run a half. I was going into it thinking it was a regular training run that I could just run much faster. And because it was five miles less than the previous week, to me, that seemed doable and easy to just kind of get it done. But no. Not easy. And not a short run either. I think I started out too fast right from the start. I will say, when I got to mile six and saw that I was under an hour, I was pretty psyched. But then it all went downhill. And not literally, which made me pretty sad. In fact, I could have sworn I ran uphill both ways. It was a down-and-back situation and I was so excited to make the turn, because it looked like it was a downward incline. It was not and I almost cried. Then I started to get the chills. I don’t think I drank enough water the day before or the morning of and that was clearly messing with me. To make up for it, I gulped a lot of water at each of the stations, which I also used as my excuse to slow down. (Also, lesson learned for marathon day: Don’t try to run and drink water. I almost choked trying to do that during this race.)

Then the incident happened. Shortly after I failed myself and walked up a slight incline in Prospect Park between miles 10 and 11, I felt a warm sensation down my lower half. In other words, I peed my pants. And not like, oh I don’t want to mess up my time and stop to go to the bathroom. More like, oh my gawd, I cannot stop myself from peeing right now. I’m seriously trying but I can’t so now I give up. Can anyone see this? Thankfully, no one could see my pee in my patterned Sweaty Betty leggings. So I kept dragging on. Then, I saw a bathroom at mile 12, which had no line, because who can’t hold it for the last mile? Well, before I could even open the door, more pee was dripping down my leg and it was all out before I got my pants down. I did sit there for about two minutes catching my breath though. So if you can’t tell, it was pretty terrible in total. And I will forever understand why people accidently poop their pants — it’s just not something you can control even if you wanted to (at least for most people, I imagine). Oh also, my friend picked me up from that race and we had to put a towel down in his car so I wouldn’t get the seat wet. Thanks for the judgment-free zone, pal.

The 20 Miler
Perhaps my best training run yet! I was feeling pretty anti running by this point. I had such a terrible race and thought everything was going to shit (literally?). So I was quite nervous to attempt the 20 miler. (I do remember my boss telling me she was so ready for the taper by the 20 miler week and I wasn’t feeling that way earlier. After the half, I definitely understood what she meant.)

To boost my confidence and excitement a little, I decided to run with a group. I paid to go with the New York Flyers, a pretty big running club in the city. They had pace groups, water stations and fuel stations along the mapped out route, so I figured it was the best way to tackle 20. And I was right.

I decided to join the slower pace group, the 10:30 minute mile. (I was deciding between that and the 10 minute, but figured I could use the ego boost if I was doing better than the rest of the crew, rather than suffering to keep up.) We did stop a bunch of times — at mile 5, we had a dedicated bathroom break that was about 10 minutes and then we stopped for a few minutes at two more water stations. Our route: We met at the New York Running Company store in the Time Warner Center, did a mini loop of Central Park, went down the west side along the Hudson River to the Brooklyn Bridge, over to Brooklyn, over the Polaski Bridge (the halfway point of the marathon) into Queens, over the Queensboro (one of the toughest spots in the race) and up and around Central Park again. I felt great the entire time and I even pulled ahead after we got into Brooklyn. I felt strong going over the Queensboro and into Central Park and I even ran a little farther to make sure I hit the 20, because my tracking app was off from the others. And I surprisingly didn’t mind doing it. If the race goes like this 20 miler, I will be SO. HAPPY. Cross yo’ fingers!

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Maggie, Me and Laurel before our last training run. That’s the Queensboro behind us.

The 12 and 9 Mile Tapers
The last two weeks, I ran with my friends, Laurel and Maggie, which makes the run so much more fun! And the miles fly by when you’re chatting and Lululemon cults and marathon movies to watch. We ended up doing 13.5 miles for the first run, because we wanted to run the last half of the marathon route. We started in Queens, went over the Queensboro Bridge, up First Avenue to the Bronx, back down Fifth Ave and around the park to end where the finish line will be. Because we didn’t know our way when we reached Harlem, we looked a little lost standing on the street corner. Then our running angel, Nigel showed up. He sped past us, saying he’d see us in two weeks, but when we all reached the Willis Ave bridge together, we told him we had no idea where we were going. He slowed his typical 7-minute mile pace down to our 9:30ish so he could show us the way. (Runners are so friendly!) We met another friend too, George, who was rocking 18 miles that day and also following Nigel. As Maggie said, we really felt the marathon spirit that day.

We did our last run this past Saturday, doing the bridge again and the strip of Fifth Ave that is so very hard that I am super nervous about it for the race. It’s basically a mile uphill at the 23ish mile mark. (Why do they do that to us?! I’ll be having my family there for support and encouragement.) We tackled it again, though, and ended back at the future finish line, thinking of how good we would feel at that point come race day. WHICH IS IN 6 DAYS!!!

There you have it: the rest of my training. This week is just a few short runs and lots and lots of rest. I’m trying really hard to switch my emotions from pretty nervous to really excited. So I’ll also be working on that this week.

Laurel, Maggie and I also watched Spirit of the Marathon together the other night and I watched Run for Your Life this weekend. Such great pump up movies! Along with this Alec Baldwin video.

I’ll try to check in the night before the big day to report on my week and how I’m feeling about the race. If not, I’ll do a full recap after! YAY!

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