It often seemed this week would never get here. When I signed up for my first marathon - Chicago - on March 3rd this year, it was over 7 months away and all a bit surreal. Sure - I was spending the money, but it wasn't really going to happen - right ? I've said I should run a marathon ever since I was a boy watching the first London Marathon in 1981. Since then talk is all I've done. I've had a count down clock on my igoogle home page that started at 120+ days. I've planned my whole training and racing calendar for the year around this race and now here I am - with less than 6 days to go.
The nerves have started to get to me. Mostly at night. I've been having trouble sleeping the past week. I tried melatonin last night which actually seemed to make things worse. I've been up since 1.30am today.... so this morning I ratcheted my response up a notch and called my doctor. Still waiting to hear back, but I'm hoping I'll have a 7 day ambien prescription to get me through. Not ideal, but faced with the prospect of 3 hours of sleep a night for the next week my biggest fear is my body will be run down and I'll get sick. With the swine flu making the rounds - definitely not something I want to experience after almost a whole year of training.
I haven't posted the last few weeks - mostly because I'm in my taper and haven't felt that I've done a whole heck of a lot that warrants blogging. I ran around 40 miles the week after my last full distance training run, with a high of 13.1 on the Sunday. That run was a little more painful than I expected and I felt heavy legged. In hindsight not really surprising given I'd run 2 marathons in the previous 14 days... I was a little nervous I'd overdone things, but as I've cut back on the distance through the taper I've felt the speed and power coming back.
For sh*ts and giggles last week I decided to do a couple of slightly faster runs on courses I'd been doing for a while to get an idea of my fitness. I got my fastest time on a 5 mile loop I'd been running recently at work, and then last Saturday took on the 5 miler that I've been running at home at least once / week since the start of the year. I'd been a little concerned that my fastest time was one I'd run back in the spring and I hadn't got close to it since. True - I hadn't ever really pushed for it since, but it was something in the back of my mind. Had this training program actually added anything ? The answer Saturday was a resounding HELL YES. I took close to 40 seconds off my previous fastest time, and even felt there was some more gas in the tank. I was over a minute faster than a 5 mile race I'd done earlier in the year (Cherry Creek Sneak). Clearly the training has helped. I averaged 6.41 min/miles. It got me thinking. Once the next two weekend marathons are out of the way, I'm going to look for a 5K and try get below the 19.50 qualifying time I need for the AA wave at next years Bolder Boulder.
Yesterday was an easy 8 mile loop from home, around city park and back. After the faster run the day before I purposely held back, but still ran a reasonable 7.25 min pace.
So that brings me to the final week. As a marathon newbie I have so many questions, but fortunately my preparation and the runnersworld notice board for the Chicago race, where many others like myself - inexperienced to experienced - share knowledge, has been a great help. One tip for instance - while humorous - has definitely helped set my mind at rest for one practical concern. The corral I'm in closes it's gate 30 mins before the race stars. 30 mins ??? But I'm Captain Slackbladder. I'm going to need to go to the bathroom at least twice in the last 30 mins ! :) With 45,000 people packed in the concern was that I'd either lose my place in the corral that I'd had to earn through a half marathon in May, or run with the mental image of a full bladder. Over to the advice from the board. One great idea - wear a large trash bag to keep warm leading up to the race (something I'd done at the Georgetown to Idaho Springs half), but couple that with an empty bottle of gatorade. Voila - the privacy you need in the minutes before the race to have your own porto potty... I've heard from others that people just squat there in the corral to relieve themselves, so this approach seems relatively civil...
Not a whole lot planned for this week. Assuming I can get my sleep issue resolved, I'm hoping to get a gentle 3 miler in today. Then tomorrow the plan calls for 4 x 400m laps, with the final run - another 3 miler Wednesday. Thursday off, then Friday I catch the flight to Chicago. I'm going to do the Western Australian Carb loading method for the race so will do a short intense run Saturday morning and then fill up with carbs for the rest of the day. I'm meeting some friends for the expo, but other than that hope to hang quietly around the hotel. I'm not expecting to sleep much Saturday night (hence my desire to at least get one decent night's sleep before then !!)
The race itself is less than a mile from my hotel and starts at 7:30am. Not sure if I'll post again before that. If all goes well - I'll have finished before 11am and have a whole day in Chicago to enjoy. There's a post racerunnersworld meetup in Bucktown that I'll likely attend, dragging along some old drinking buddies. My flight is the following afternoon. From the Monday onwards I'm going to be trying to get myself back in shape for the Denver marathon on the 18th. I haven't made the final decision yet - I'll wait until I've run Chicago, but given my current level of fitness and the fact I've done back to back marathons in training - I'm leaning towards running that one too. Hopefully I've got the BQ monkey off my back and I can 'enjoy' the local race.
Ok - enough for now. Even writing about this is making me nervous.