About four months ago, I decided to run a marathon, something I’ve never done or wanted to do before.
I wanted to run a marathon because I FINALLY feel like I have a grip on my new normal. Which is to say that even though I still share everything except my morning coffee and evening wine with a toddler and a preschooler, I’m on a roll in a way I haven’t been since I got that first positive pregnancy test in June 2009. (More on that in a separate post.)
Going the distance
I’ve been a runner since joining the high school cross-country team in ninth grade, and I’ve logged my share of half marathons. I ran during parts of my pregnancies and soon after giving birth. I love racing because, although I have no aspirations of a top-10 finish, I adore the structure training for a race gives me.
I picked a marathon because running 26.2 miles requires commitment. I couldn’t blow off training and just throw in a few long runs (as I’ve done when “training” for a half marathon). I also thought a marathon would elevate the significance of my goal and make me more accountable. No sleeping in on a hill repeat day; I’ve got a marathon to train for.
A family affair
Jeff was supremely supportive. He, too, loves to run, although he doesn’t share my affinity for organized races. These days he’s not running at all as he’s still recovering from his broken leg. But when I asked if he’d be cool with me training for a marathon, he didn’t just give me a thumbs up, he volunteered to be my coach.
Even though this sounds like a bad idea, it was actually terrific. Jeff is a smart science nerd, and he reads medical books the way I read Oprah’s O Magazine. I figured he could crunch all the latest sports science and customize my training regimen.
Training to train
At first the strategy was to “train to train.” That is: build up a lot of base miles at a slow and steady pace to get my muscles and lungs in shape for the big kahuna.
I loved it. Very gradually I increased my mileage from 15 miles/week to 17. Then to 20. Then 25. It didn’t take long to reach 38-40. Some friends questioned the quantity of my mileage, but it felt great, so I ignored them.
Then in June Jeff and I went to Aspen without the boys to celebrate our wedding anniversary and I went out for what was to be a 13-mile trail run with a bit of elevation gain. That jaunt turned into a 17-mile epic with almost 3,000 feet of elevation. Here’s what happened: My loop turned out to be covered in ankle-deep slushy snow around 11 miles, so I turned around and backtracked to the nearest road where I got cell coverage and called Jeff for a rescue. That happened to be six miles away.
To say I was sore is an understatement. My feet were already reeling from packing in the miles on some crappy shoes that I’d only recently replaced, and I hobbled out to dinner that night.
Long story short, I ran the following week, despite having a sensitive Achilles tendon. I’ve never been injured and figured I was just adjusting to this new running self of mine.
Then a two-mile run kicked my ass. Make that a one-mile run and a one-mile crawl home.
Want to know what came next?? Check back in on Friday for the next installation of my marathon training adventure.