Wednesday, March 6, 2013

26.2 version 2 (How to Train for a Marathon in 5 Weeks)

 About two months ago I got a text from one of my running buddies.  The premise was something along the lines of "Hey, wanna run a marathon?  Oh and by the way, it's in 5 weeks."

The smart, practical side of me instantly replied, "Hell no.  That's stupid.  We'll get hurt.  That's not possible."  And I stuck with that perspective for about 15 minutes. 

Slowly, though, thanks to his persuasive nature, my thoughts started to evolve (or perhaps the more appropriate word is devolve).  I started thinking, " IS 5 weeks.  I have a pretty strong base.  I've been running pretty solid now.  Hmmm..."

And within a few days we were signed off on the pact, and signed up for a marathon.  And not just any marathon.  One that is known for having a more challenging course, stocked with some awesome hills and not so great terrain. 

While it was to be my second marathon, it was my Partner in Crazy's first.  That added a whole new level of stress.  I was genuinely worried that he'd over do it or get hurt through very fast, accelerated 5 week training plan.  Let's be honest, most normal people take 10 to 12 to 16 weeks to train for 26.2.  I wasn't confident that I'd be able to do it, either.  I mean, I'm a pessimist.  "Something will go wrong!"  So I didn't really talk about marathon training too much.  I think I told my mom and my best friend about a week before I was going to do it.  I was afraid that I'd fail, and disappoint everyone.

As luck would have it, training went really well for us.  I think there's something to be said for an abbreviated training plan.  There was less wear and tear on our bodies and joints.  My long runs went amazingly well.  During the week I ran 4.5 miles every Tuesday and Thursday with my marathon partner, Wednesday alone (3-9 miles) and Sundays my other running partner accompanied me on parts of my long runs. I even was able to take Isla out for a 17 mile long run (plus 2 miles of walking after) in the BOB, which felt really awesome.

My longest run was two weeks before marathon day, and it was 20 miles.  Not exactly as much as I had wanted to do, but it's what I felt was best for my body.  It was an amazing 20 miler, I felt fantastic the entire time and thanks to my family, who provided a water stop on wheels, I didn't have to stop at all!  That's when I knew I was ready for the 26.2 and got less pessimistic and more excited.  For the most part.

Race day morning came REALLY early.  The race was about an hour from home, so we had to head out at the crack of dawn.  Well, actually, BEFORE dawn cracked.  It seemed inhumane to get up that early.  For a race.  

Once we were there, though, the excitement was in full speed.  There were some last minute moments of doubt at that start line, but when we started moving, I felt fully confident that we'd rock this bad boy.

The course was awesome.  While the terrain was a little rough and rugged at parts (for a road race) and there were some monster hills, we saw such beautiful scenery.  Pictured above is our run through the Stockyards.  At about mile 8, running on a rough brick road isn't optimal, but it was a cool change of scenery. 

When I signed up for this race, my deal was, "If we're not feeling 100% at the split for the half marathon and full marathon, we're taking the turn to only run 13.1" 
That "out" was my safety net.  And in the back of my head, I truly believed that this would be a necessity.  But as it turned out, it wasn't.  

I'm so glad we stayed on course, because the rest of those 16 miles were so much fun.  The people of Ft. Worth really know how to support their runners.  At every mile, the race had a water/Powerade stop, which we took full advantage of (it was warmer).  Through every neighborhood, the locals set up cheering stations and hospitality tables.  We were treated with Snickers, Jolly Ranchers, Pretzels, Oranges, and Beer.  What made it extra special was the children who would want to high five you or wore their super hero costumes to cheer for the runners.   

I hit the wall at about mile 23.  I wasn't surprised, since I'd only trained to 20.  I didn't feel terribly awful, my hamstring strain was naggy and I didn't want to completely tear it. So I made a deal with myself.  Walk to mile 24, then run in to 26.2.  And that's what I did.  I think I smiled the entire time I was going those last 3.2 miles.  I was so happy...and proud.  I was doing what I love most!

 The finish of this marathon was just as awesome as the rest of the course.  The volunteers were so sweet and generous.  There was plenty of water and recovery food, something that doesn't always happen when you run as slow as we do ;-)  

I'm glad I got conned into this race by my Partner in Crazy.  It was an awesome day, awesome race, and I can't wait for Marathon #3!