This week, the marathon training emotional roller coaster welcomed me back with open arms.
Monday was downright awful and had me on the verge of tears all day. Tuesday had me high on running again. Wednesday had me feeling those annoying shins again. Thursday had me feeling on top of the world. Friday had me nervous. And Saturday? Saturday was THE BEST DAY! Marathon training bipolar disorder? I think so.
This week I set my alarm early again. This week I felt tired again. And not from muscle relaxers. From training for a marathon again. It felt good. Good to be tired. Good to wake up when it was dark outside.
This may sound crazy but I loved getting up in the dark again this week. I loved running while most people were still sleeping. I loved feeling tired again. I loved being able to run again. I loved all of it.
Monday: Yoga + PT
Also known as the day I was an emotional disaster; on the verge of tears all day. Maybe it was the unknown of what my training for the week would be. Maybe it was the discomfort I felt at work all day. I didn’t have any pain, I just couldn’t find a comfortable way to sit all day. I literally walked into physical therapy in tears. My mood was completely lifted when I walked out of the office feeling loosened up and with clearance to attempt a SIX MILE RUN on Tuesday morning.
Tuesday: 6 glorious, pain-free miles + PT
These miles were absolutely glorious. MAN! Did it feel awesome to be back on the road running again. I was so happy to be back in Central Park, even though it’s so dark these days that my early morning efforts aren’t even rewarded with a beautiful sunrise. I was slow and I couldn’t care less. I. Was. Running.
Wednesday: 45 minutes elliptical-ing + PT
I have NO IDEA how I used to spend 45 minutes to an hour on that thing more than once a week. I may loathe it more than the treadmill but today I couldn’t have been happier just to be moving. 45 minutes on the elliptical never felt so good. How’s that for perspective?
Thursday: 8 miles
Also known as the longest run I’ve had in almost three weeks. I was cleared for 6-8 miles. The physical therapist told me to aim for 6 and if I felt good I could push it to 8. The Coach agreed with this plan. They both agreed (as did I) that it was time to put some miles back on these legs. I have a marathon to run in 17 days after all. I felt really good for most of the run. My glute muscle on the right side felt a little funky after my run but after doing my PT stretches and foam rolling a little it seemed to have worked itself out. I could not have been happier that this run went as well as it did. I think I needed it as much mentally as I did physically.
Do you know HOW good it felt to need a rest day once again? I am overwhelmingly grateful for the progress I’ve made over the past week and a half in physical therapy. After mainly resting last week, and only being cleared for a little bit of light exercise, it was pretty much the most amazing feeling in the world to feel tired again and look forward to, and earn, that rest day. Dramatic? Perhaps. But it felt pretty freaking awesome.
I woke up feeling tighter than I thought I would and tighter than I would have liked. I used the heating pad, did my PT stretches and foam rolled a bit before getting ready for work and I may have even brought my foam roller to work with me. As the day went on the tightness improved and then got worse and then improved. I’m feeling a million times better and more confident about the marathon but the emotional roller coaster does seem to be continuing.
Saturday: 22 FREAKING MILES!!!!!
I did it! After three weeks without long runs, and many doubts, I had no idea what to expect for this run. My physical therapist cleared me for the 22 miles I had on my schedule the week before. I discussed it with the Coach and she told me to aim for 18 and take it from there. If I felt good at 18, try for 20 and if I felt good at 20, try for 22. She told me she would rather me get in a solid 18 than slog through 22 miles just to get them in. I don’t even think I was nervous for this long run. I think when I have no expectations for a run I do much better. I even slept great Friday night; which almost never happens the night before a long run.
My plan was to run the first four miles alone, 14 miles with Kara, and then reassess how I felt and take it from there. We planned to run the Queensboro Bridge and the last 10 miles of the New York City Marathon race course.
I woke up to perfect running weather and excitement I hadn’t felt in weeks. I was finally doing a long run. I set out for Central Park to run four miles and was so happy to be running again. I wasn’t overwhelmed by how miles were ahead of me. I didn’t care about my pace. I was just happy and grateful to be feeling better and attempting to run the longest distance I’ve ever run. I put on some music and got lost in the beauty of fall in Central Park. The first four miles went great.
I ran back towards my apartment to meet Kara and we were off to the Queensboro Bridge. It had been a long time since I’d run that beast and I was a little nervous. I know it was only around mile 6 but the incline back to Manhattan didn’t seem so bad. Maybe it was the fresh legs after not long running for three weeks. Maybe it was my mental game. Maybe it was the wonderful company. I’m not 100% positive what it was but I felt confident and excited that the next time I would run this bridge would be during my first marathon.
As we began to head up First Avenue towards the Bronx, I took it all in. We saw so many runners also running the last 10 miles of the marathon course. It was exciting. The marathon route signs were up and I noted that the 70s are the worst of the uphill and then it kind of levels out again. I thought to myself, I CAN DO THIS! I thought about how all of my friends and family will be around this part of the race, waiting to cheer for me, and I got really excited.
We crossed the Willis Avenue Bridge, which wasn’t as bad of an incline as I thought it would be, and I wasn’t really sure of where we were going. We had the directions and managed to almost navigate the course on our own. I did have to ask an NYPD traffic guy where one road was. The marathon route signs were up in the Bronx too, which was very helpful.
Once we crossed back over the Madison Avenue Bridge, we knew exactly where to go as we had done this part of the course after the Bronx 10 Mile, three weeks earlier. It was exciting to be back in Manhattan. We turned right on Fifth Avenue and started making our way towards Central Park. Not long after we started running down Fifth Avenue we saw a fire engine; Ladder 26. Totally a sign, right?
OH MAN! Fifth Avenue is so hard. It’s almost soul crushing hard. I can’t imagine how you power up that unrelenting hill at mile 23, but I guess you just do. It feels like it goes on FOREVER. I felt the same way three weeks ago when we ran the last six miles of the marathon course. I’m hoping that the crowds on race day, the support of all the other runners, and the promise of entering Central Park and being so close to the finish line will all help power me up that hill.
Then, as we got closer to entering the park, we saw a bus with a marathon ad on the side. We saw so many signs during our run. You know
I’m obsessed with I believe in signs and numbers, right? THIS MARATHON IS HAPPENING! That’s all I kept thinking, and telling Kara, on our run.
As we were about to turn into Engineers’ Gate, I literally got the chills. Actually, every time I explain the race course to someone, and talk about that part, I get the chills and tear up a little bit. I can only imagine it’s an incredible feeling come race day. We turned the corner and made our way towards the finish line.
We had to stop and stretch a few times on Fifth Avenue but once we got into Central Park I was feeling much better. Maybe it was because I literally dug my hand into my butt muscle on Fifth Avenue. No big deal. It was beautiful in Central Park. Breezy, marathon route signs everywhere, beautiful autumn leaves, tons of runner friends. All the things that make Central Park, in fall, one of my favorite parts of living in New York City.
We ran the last two miles of the race and crossed the “finish line.” The last three miles of this race are no joke. It’s a tough race finish. But I will fight with everything I have left in me on race to finish strong and with a huge smile on my face.
At this point, Kara was about done with her run and I was on my own once again. I was nervous to run the last few miles alone but that’s what I’ll have to do on race day. Push through alone when things get tough. I was at around 16.5 miles and decided I felt good enough to try to get to at least 18 miles. I put my music back on, head back up Cat Hill, at mile 17, and made my way towards the reservoir; one of my favorite places to run in Central Park.
I decided to give my recovering muscles and hard-working legs a little reprieve and run on a flat, softer surface for a few miles. I ran a lap and a half of the reservoir and at mile 20 I knew I felt okay enough to go for it and run the full 22 miles. In the last mile, Jay-Z/Beyonce/Kanye West’s Run This Town was playing. “Victory’s within the mile.” These lyrics were definitely not lost on me and actually made me tear up. I ran back down the west side of Central Park and across the 72nd Street transverse; taking in all the beauty of the park while I ran in unchartered mileage territory. I hit 22 miles, stopped my watch and cried tears of happiness. Shocking, I know! I couldn’t believe it. I had just run 22 miles. 13 days after my DNS at the Wineglass Half Marathon. Just as I was about to leave the park and start
hobbling walking back home Roar by Katy Perry started playing. What a perfect song to end that run on. “Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar!”
This may have been my slowest long run of marathon training, but I honestly think it was one of the best. I felt as good as you can feel while running 22 miles. It gave me the confidence, mentally and physically, that I needed before the marathon.
My physical therapist told me not to do a recovery run this week. I listened. I did a lot of recovery walking as walking felt much better for my sore muscles than sitting around. I was so sore and I FREAKING LOVED IT!!!!! It felt great. I was sore from running 22 miles not because something felt wrong. Having said that; I couldn’t have been more excited that I had an appointment for physical therapy on Monday. These muscles could use some extra love.
Total Mileage: 36 miles *highest weekly mileage ever*
Now THAT’S a peak week! I’m so incredibly grateful.
And with that, I’m officially (and finally) in taper. I AM READY TO RUN MY FIRST MARATHON! 16 weeks down. 2 weeks to go.
Are you more excited or nervous after your last long run before a marathon?
Taper: love it or hate it?
When should I expect to get nervous?
Last minute words of wisdom? Pump up songs?
14 days until the New York City Marathon!!!!!