Get back to the car


One of the mental games I play with myself on long runs, particularly on out and backs and true loops is that when I get to the  halfway point or beyond, I say, “I’m done. I just have to get back to the car.”

And so it is with taper. I’m done with the marathon, I just have to do the race, and get back to my car.

I had a brief moment of panic after meeting with Coach Mark this week, as he grimly surveyed my training logs. Doom and gloom, he predicted, especially since I missed one of the 20 milers due to a second bout of strep. I reminded him that I’d specifically asked for low mileage, and that my most important goal is just to break the 5 hour mark. In that case, no problem, just run 12:00 for the first two miles and stay conservative (ie slow) the first half and don’t push it on the hills. He did suggest I up my long run mileage this weekend, previously scheduled as a 9 mi progression run. Fifteen sounded like a great idea to me, but Friday night I felt lightheaded and exhausted. I felt no better Saturday morning, but figured that at Riverview I’d be surrounded by helpers, and would never be more than two miles from my car.

It was freezing, and I was underdressed, and in my unwell, predawn haze I’d forgotten my bag of goodies that I usually bring along in the car – food, gloves, hat, extra shirts (long and short sleeve). So I was stuck with no gloves and no sleeves in the frosty morning. My elbows never did warm up.

I did manage the progression run and did okay with it. I had two solid miles at the end below 10K pace. By the time my friends were finishing up the 10 or 12 they had had on their plans, I was out of steam. I hit the turnaround at 11 miles and figured it was enough.

A long day of Halloween with young children followed, including a bike ride, pumpkin carving, pie making, and lots of walking for trick or treating. I got those 15 miles in for sure, just not all at once at Riverview.

I woke up this morning with a blaring head cold. No wonder I felt so rotten yesterday morning. This is the time for it. I can sit on my duff for two weeks and run just enough to get the sinuses moving. All the hay that is going to be in the barn is already in the barn.

I’ve already had my first pre-race nightmare. I dreamed that I missed a turn and ended up on the half course. I neared the finish and realized I was miles short of the full. Now is the time to channel those nerves into mental preparation. I’ve already started working on my “driving to Richmond” playlist for the car. I’ve scienced the s*** out of my nutrition and hydration. I’m solidifying my day before and race morning plans. And I’m taking a lot of time to reflect on how far I’ve come, both in running and in life, since my only other marathon nine years ago.

This training experience was so different from last time, when I was a new mom for the first time, and a new runner as well. Most of the roads I run on for my morning runs now didn’t exist then. I’ve gained and lost training partners. I made it through a major injury and surgery and came out stronger and smarter. I survived the soul crushing sleep deprivation of my youngest child’s babyhood. We’ve moved from diapers and daycare to sports and homework. I’ve felt the change in the seasons as the days get shorter and longer and shorter again. I’ve watched planets align, and felt the comforting smallness of seeing the Milky Way overhead as I run in the infinite darkness of the early morning. And then I’ve seen the sky lighten and sun come up, over and over again.


One Response to “Get back to the car”

  1. 1 MoMo

    Hay is in the Barn!!! So excited for you! Xoxo

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