With 13 days to go until CIM I guess it’s time to get all self-reflective and stuff. I’ll save the big stuff for next week but reflecting on the last time I ran CIM vs this time seems appropriate.
It’s actually kind of amazing to me how little of the actual race I remember from last time. There are snapshots in my head of the beginning, meeting some girlfriends at mile 20 and the finish, but I don’t really remember anything about the course. Or at least very little of it. I remember seeing my mom a couple of times at miles 10, 13 an 20 and chatting with a really nice lady on the bus. I remember feeling terrified and very, very alone at the start. I also remember feeling incredibly supported by my friends and family and pretty overwhelmed by all the attention. I think I may have hit a wall around mile 18, but I also know that I’ll probably be done with the race in the amount of time it took me to run 18 last time.
Training for these 2 marathons has been like night and day. Last time I maxed at about 45 miles per week with 2 20 mile runs, 2 18s and a 16 or 2. This time I ran an average of 60 miles per week with 3 weeks at 70 miles per week and one at 75. I ran 1 21-miler, 2 20-milers, 2 19 milers, 3 17 milers and a truckload of medium long runs in the 12-15 mile range. Last time I couldn’t make it through a run longer than 17 miles without a walk or puke break and this time I never needed a walk break and only puked once.
Last time I had absolutely no clue what I was doing and weighed roughly 40 pounds more than I do now. I was also around 3 mins/mile slower than I plan on running this race and had only run 2 half marathons in my entire life. In the last 5 months alone I’ve run 2 1/2 marathons, the 30k race and a solid 10k. I’ve run probably 25 races since then and knocked off giant chunks of time. Not to brag, because I still have a lot of work to do and improvements to make, but I don’t think I give my body enough credit for the steps forward I’ve made in the last few years. I’m pretty tough on myself and tend to focus on the last race I’ve run rather than the big picture but reflecting on the last couple of years is pretty staggering.
So those are the tangibles, the numbers, the data. And while I take a lot of data into consideration with my training I think the biggest difference this time is my mental state. I wasn’t entirely convinced I could run the marathon last time. This time I have no doubt that I’ll be able to do this thing– it’s just a matter of how fast. I know so much more about my own body, fueling, pacing, perceived effort, my own strengths and weaknesses, how to deal with rough patches, etc. That’s not to say I won’t have a dark period during the race- in fact, I’m counting on it. I just think I’m better equipped to deal with it when it comes.
I remember wanting to quit marathon training 2 years ago– it was so hard (although now one of my peak weeks wouldn’t even be a recovery week which is kind of amazing) and I felt so ill-equipped for the task at hand. I never felt like that this time- I knew the road would be long and full of ups and downs (which it was) but that I’d come out the other side stronger and glad I’d persevered. I had days when I was tired, so hungry I couldn’t sleep and my legs ached but I also had a lot of really beautiful runs where I felt like anything was possible.
And this time I don’t think I’ll feel alone at the start. I’ve gotten to know so many amazing runners in the last 2 years. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had a single long run, even the runs I’ve run by myself, where I’ve felt alone. Even if it’s just me and the bike trail I always see someone I know or recognize and get a wave and a “good job.” And although I’ve set the expectations ludicrously high for myself and pretty much told the world about it, I also know that I have a ton of friends, family, coworkers and blog friends pulling for me. Every time I’ve expressed a doubt or frustration someone has come along to tell me that it’s normal and everything would be ok. And they were always right. I also know that as long as I give the race my best, everyone will continue to be proud of me no matter what the clock says.
So I guess you could say that although this is my 2nd marathon, in a lot of ways it feels like my first. Alberto has told me not to waste my time and energy on obsessing or worrying about things that I can’t control like the weather, start details, course maps etc. so I’m choosing not to hit refresh on weather.com all day long or to google race reports from previous CIMs. I think about the race quite a bit, but it’s more like looking forward to Christmas than the Bataan Death March. I’m kind of viewing the race as a celebration of the 19 weeks of hard training I’ve endured. I’m not asking my body to do anything its not trained to do– I’ll just be doing it with 10,000 of my closest friends. I’m so excited.