Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Last Few Weeks of Marathon Training Are Pure Evil

The last few weeks of marathon training always mess with me. Last week was Week 21 of 24 of marathon training, so I suppose I should've seen it coming. Usually, it's not until the taper (I mean peak ) that it really starts messing with me, but I guess all that talk about how I'm not going to taper this time really pissed them off. What to me was a statement of confidence in my training and the proper use of prior experience was to them the equivalent of "Na na na na naaah!".

So, here I am, I've survived the worst of the training and thankfully, the end is in sight. Which must be the cue for the last few weeks of marathon training to move in and stir it up a bit. Oh, the clever ways of the last few weeks of marathon training. Doubts and niggling fears have taken hold in my brain. Key workouts have become a great source of anxiety (as they hold the power to instill me with confidence. Or not). Every run is over analyzed, every ache and pain is dissected, and it takes very little to throw me into complete panic mode. And could my thighs be any bigger? Geez.

I fell prey to them last time, so why should this training cycle be any different? The other day, on a day I hadn't even run, I felt a cramp in my left calf. "Last few weeks of marathon training!", I hissed. I then taunted them by defiantly lacing up my running shoes and heading out the door for 7 miles of intervals. That must've really pissed them off big time because it started to rain. Hard. The temperature dropped 10 degrees. Then it happened: I was barely through the first two miles at half marathon pace when I suddenly realized, "OMG, I. just. do. not. have. it. today." Panic! "OK, don't panic", I say to myself. "Shorten the workout and still get something out of it." So I switch to 800 meter repeats. But after the first 400, I started walking. Crap! What is wrong with me today? Ever trying to remain calm, sans panic mode, I tell myself it's just one bad day, it means nothing. I'll nail Thursday's workout, and the long run and still end up with a confidence inspiring week.

Should I have been surprised that Thursdays workout was a disaster? Probably not. After driving 40 minutes to Lake Junaluska, and not 5 minutes into the first 4.5 mile interval, Garmin's (pbtn) battery died. What? I didn't charge it??? One mental collapse later, I was back in my car, begging the good workout gods for mercy.

Which brings us to Saturday's long run. The last possible saving grace of the week. The plan was to run the first 18 miles at 1-2 minutes slower than goal pace (9:48 - 10:30), then run the final 10K as if it were a race. In the back of my mind was the thought that whatever pace I could hold over the last 10K was probably going to be the average pace I could sustain for the entire race. But no pressure.

Yeah, sure, in hindsight I see how foolish that was. But I didn't REALLY think I was going to run 12 minute miles for the last 10K. Obviously. How was I supposed to know my legs would be dead at 12 miles, a full 6 miles before the hard part began? Or that I would develop an insane blister underneath a callous on the bottom of my baby toe? Or that two old people would dump my water bottles out and throw them away?

So, back to present time. With 2 days off from running, we're now in Week 22 of 24. The first run of the week was a huge success (and by huge success I mean no walking, crying or other mental or physical breakdowns). Just as I was about to be swallowed up in an abyss of self-pity because of perpetual failed workouts, things go totally back to "normal". Like last week was a bad dream. Like it never happened.

I have no mind to tempt the last few weeks of marathon training again. I will be keeping a low profile as I kick the ass of the 13 mile marathon pace training run I have this weekend. I will unthinkingly keep my nose to the grindstone, churning out the last few key workouts that sharpen and focus me (dare I say peak?) for 12/12/09. That's right, people. Nobody messes with me during the last few weeks of marathon training.

Except, of course, the last few weeks of marathon training.

No comments:

Post a Comment