I'm now less than 90 days out from the Columbus Marathon, so I thought I'd write a bit about my progress.
I'm in my 12th week of training out of 24 weeks, which is a long training regimen for most people with a marathon. I stretched my training out for a variety of reasons. First, I came into the training with a recurring injury (IT band syndrome and poppy knee caps) and spent the first four weeks of my training also going to physical therapy. I decided to do a three-day a week running plan instead of running 4 days a week, because I thought it was more sustainable for me over the long haul. The longer training schedule also gives more time for pull-back weeks, where you rest your legs with less mileage in order to push upward in distance.
The last two weekends were 15 and 16 mile runs respectively - my longest runs to date. I will end up going to 20 miles and doing that three times before the taper and actual marathon. Yes, it's mentally intimidating to think that I won't ever run 26.2 until the day I get a medal around my neck for it, but I'm trusting in the wisdom of the Hal Higdon plans. Truly, if you're going to train for any running event - from a 5K to a marathon - go with Hal. He got me to my first half marathon and I'm getting increasingly confident that he'll get me to that finish line at Columbus.
Right now, I'm up to about 25 miles a week, with one hill day, one shorter, flat run and one long run. On Wednesday, I will cross 300 miles run this year so far, and more than 150 since training began. I really need to think about getting that map with push pins to show myself really how far those miles are.
Physically, it's been challenging for me, especially as we get in to the later summer, in this humid, soupy climate. For the first time since I started running in 2012, I've been slammed with the realization that I'm an asthmatic runner. Now, the asthma's no surprise. I've had it all my life, and it's amazingly well under control. But it's because of that great control that I often forget that my lungs are asthmatic and they just don't work like the lungs of someone without asthma.
I came into this training 15 pounds heavier than when I trained for a half marathon last year, which also has something to do with it. But I am watching my heart rate closely on every run now, to avoid crashing. For me, once my heart rate approaches a certain level, there's nothing I can do to get it back down long term except for stopping altogether. So I work really hard to keep the gradual increase of the heart rate over 3+ hours of running under control instead of letting it spike up.
Marathon training is as much a mental endeavor as a physical one. I knew going into this that my pace was going to be that of the tortoise - slow and steady. I was not in peak physical condition when I started, and I'm not now, even in the middle of it. So I fight the mental pressure to be faster - especially when I see running blogs or magazines talking about sustaining paces of 8:30 as if it's just normal. Which for some people, it is. But I am 4'11", overweight and asthmatic. So really, the fact that I'm out there each week doing it is good enough for me right now. For a girl who spent time in an oxygen tent when I was little, running a marathon is like scaling Everest, no matter the pace.
Other positives of training? One of my friends that I'm training with makes some fantastic routes. For instance, last week we ran through the following neighborhoods: Millvale, Strip District, Lawrenceville, Bloomfield, Shadyside, Oakland, Greenfield, South Side (Works, flats and Station Square), West End, the Point/Downtown, North Shore and North Side. That's straight up crazy. It's kind of cool to visit places on a run you've never been even in a car. After living here for almost 9 years, it's hard to find places I've never seen, so this is a good opportunity for exploration.
It's been nice to take a slight break from a lot of races. I've only done three so far this year (a 5K and 2 half marathons). During the training I will do one more 5K (Electrodash), a 10K virtual race (Beat the Blerch) and one, possibly two, half marathons (Wine Glass Half and maybe Montour Trail).
It's also hard to not get excited about the race itself, and I try to focus on that during the training. This is all for a reason - for that moment I see the finish line appear in the distance and know I'm yards away from probably the biggest accomplishment of my life. (Not because it's the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, but because it is the most impossible thing I've ever attempted.) I even named my Spotify playlist "Road to Columbus" to remind myself what this is all for. Each mile is just another mile down that road. (You can search for my playlist under that name on Spotify, but it's uniquely me, thus probably not universally exciting for most people. Oh, you don't listen to Starship during your long runs?)
You can follow my progress more closely on Instagram (@nextgenhouse) under the hashtags #yearofthemarathon and #roadtocolumbus. Let the countdown begin!