As anyone who follows me on Dailymile knows, my long runs have been very hit or miss for the past couple months. It almost seemed like I had hit a pattern where I was alternating between a good long run and a bad one. I always get nervous before my long runs but today the anxiety was especially bad since, if the pattern was any indication, this was supposed to be a bad long run week. Moreover, my previous longest run (I was aiming for 18 but stopped at 17 because things were just so miserable) was what I would consider a disaster. I felt fine for the first 12 or so miles and then really, really struggled after that just to get through the mile I was on. It was the kind of run that nobody wants to have. So as I was getting ready to go out this morning, I couldn’t help but think about these things, and worry about what today might be like.
I got to the park and, after climbing a pretty big hill and making it down the other side, realized that there was some sort of walking event going on, and that it didn’t seem that organized at all. In Central Park, there are two recreation lanes. One is supposed to be for walkers/runners, and the other is for cyclists. Then there are two lanes for vehicle traffic. Since there’s no vehicle traffic in Central Park on the weekends, people kind of take over the two wide lanes, which is fine. Except that this group of walkers complicated things. Bikers had to swerve to get around them, runners had to swerve to get around them, bikers had to swerve to get around runners who’d had to swerve to get around these huge groups of walkers…overall it was one of those times when you just felt like you were putting more energy into avoiding running into people than you were into the actual running. Two miles into my run, I just wanted to go home, where I wouldn’t have to deal with any of this. Obviously, I talked myself out of that.
As the miles ticked by, I started feeling better and better. I was holding a pace I was happy with, and I felt good overall. I did get nervous as I approached my twelfth mile, wondering if I would crash at that point as I had in other runs. I didn’t! I found myself thinking about random things, and not really worrying too much about how many miles I had run and how many I had remaining. It definitely wasn’t an easy run (I don’t know that 20 miles could ever be easy), and by the time I got to mile 16 or so, I was feeling it, but it was the best run I could have asked for. My week had been far from ideal–there’s been a lot of stressful stuff happening, and in spite of how well my recovery has been going, I still have trouble with food–so I wouldn’t say I was hydrated and fueled as well as I hope to be for the marathon. But the fact that I was still able to have a good run in those conditions makes me feel optimistic about how things will go in Philly. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that those 26.2 miles will be as manageable as these 20 turned out to be.
And now it’s taper time! In a way I think this might be the hardest part of marathon training, at least mentally. It’s so hard to go from heavy mileage to light mileage, and to keep yourself from worrying that doing so will somehow negatively impact your performance. Plus there’s the feeling of restlessness that you develop, and which I’m already starting to experience. I wish the next three weeks would hurry up and pass. Not only do I want to run this marathon, I also want to start working on whatever I end up doing after November 21.