Down to the Wire


What’s more fun within the last 60 days of marathon training to have a bit of an emergency pop up? Not much, I’ll tell you that.

Not quite a month ago one of my cats became sick. Over the last three weeks we have been to the vet 5 times – 4 of those trips were emergency visits and one included about a 36 hour stay. I lost count of the sleepless nights. Although I did start to use my Garmin to get an idea of how much I was actually sleeping vs awake and dealing with a sick kitty….it wasn’t pretty. (Most of my “light” sleeping was me trying to beg myself to fall asleep)

How I managed to hold on to my training is beyond me, but it certainly suffered. I missed a few workouts, cut some runs short and generally was not performing fully most of the time.

That first weekend I was scheduled for 18 miles. Surprisingly, it ended up being a great 18.5 mile run, but I have to guess that part of that was due to my last minute route change to a flat paved trail. Should I have done hills? Probably, but the mental motivation of a good run, was needed — plus the trail was close to my favorite sushi restaurant.

Things, however, went south for my kitty by the end of the next week and my sleeplessness reached a whole new level. Luckily it was a cut back week. I was not feeling well, at all. I attempted a late-afternoon run, which I struggled to get in 3 miles and ended up walking the majority of the 4.7 miles.I’d like to say I’m proud I got out there, but I think I would have been better off by skipping and seeing what I could do after fully recovering from the weekend.

When my cat woke me up sick again on Tuesday around 4am, my stress level really sky rocketed. I couldn’t keep skipping out on my training and make this marathon happen – but of course my pets are more important than my marathon, but still. I am so close! So instead of crawling back into bed, tossing and turning for another 2 hours before heading to work and possibly skipping any run that day, I bundled up (it was of course snowing and freezing) and charged my headlamp for a 5:15am run. I figured if I could do a quick 3 miles it’d be a lot better than nothing. I ended up running 4.35 – not great, but a lot better than Sunday miles. It made for a really long day, but I would not have gotten a run in otherwise, so I felt great.

Originally this past weekend called for a 19 miler, but since my 18.5 was so great, I figured I’d go for 20, then maybe I could do 21ish the next weekend. Needless to say the week wasn’t making this decision any easier, so I tacked on a reward. 20 McNuggest for 20 miles. I may have been eating more fast food recently, but I haven’t had a McNugget in probably 5 years, so I was pretty excited for this to happen. My route passed my house around 4.25 and again at 12.5 — and I had multiple places I could cut off a good chunk of miles, but I had a goal to reach…

When you look at the big picture, my 20 miler was impressive, but it was well off what I was hoping for, when you review the stats. It wasn’t even as hilly as the marathon course will be and I was 17 seconds above the average pace to reach my goal. It might not seem like much, but 17 x 26.2 is almost 7.5 whole minutes!

I don’t exactly believe in “excuses” but here’s what factored into this disappointing run:

  • Three weeks of poor sleep and not so great eating habits (nothing new there)
  • The previous week was filled with fast food drive-thrus (thanks to traveling for work)
  • WIND — holy heck it was windy!! A head wind no matter which direction I was running. I literally at one point thought about trying to run the opposite way just to get a break! — and bit colder than I was dressed for, my hands were like lobster red by the end of the run.
  • HILLY! Compared to the 18.5 miler with 105 ft of elevation gain, this run had 927
  • I tied my shoes, especially right shoe a bit too tight, by the last few miles the top of my foot was hurting — and it’s still hurting today!
  • Since I already had an ankle issue that was acting up a bit more than usual, I took ibprofen before the run — which was a bad bad idea, my heart rate was through the roof by the first 1.5 miles, and I think that was to blame and the biggest strike against the whole run.
  • I thought it was a wise idea to go for my first outdoor bike ride the day before — again against wind. Quads were not a fan, it was evident a few miles into the run.

What was good about this run, not only getting it done, but that strength wise I didn’t break down. Yeah, I had some IT band pain from time to time, my foot hurt those last few miles, my quads reminded me about my bike ride the day before, but I was still running strong by the end – I mean I was hitting sub 10 paces after mile 17!

So what do I need to do over the next 32 days?

  1. Eat right! I mean seriously, I have been harping on this the last 4 months and I best listen to my advice, better now than never!
  2. Continue strength training & hill work. On the less is more plan, but make those workouts count!
  3. SLEEP! This sounds like it will be easy, but I have major sleep problems.

The most important thing here is that I feel lucky to have another chance at this 20 miler. I’ve updated my route, both for a little scenery change and (I may regret this later) more hills.

I will also be making good use of my recover tools. Including my recovery pants, air compression boots, and a snuggly kitty who is doing a lot better!





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