This training cycle has played a tough hand; I’ve had my fair share of days where I’m not thrilled about running for hours, or planning weekends around training, or looking ahead at the miles to come.
All of my long runs in DC have gone well, but the last 20 was a challenge. Slightly jaded at this point, I approached it without much thought; I didn’t pace myself well, and the last quarter of the run was a test as to whether or not this marathon thing would actually be “fun”.
Doable? Totally. Enjoyable? Well, that’s up for debate.
This exact sentiment ran its course last Fall, and I had one last long run to combat it. That last one turned into a 21, and I instantly knew I was ready, and able, to tackle 26.2 again.
So, this time around, what trick was waiting up my sleeve?
A 22 mile test, of course.
This time I actually spend the week acting as though I’m in full training (ah, the epiphany!). I got enough sleep, paid attention to drinking more water, planned the mileage & meals, and had a low-key night before it all went down. Pizza dinner date, movie with friends, cupcake for dessert – that was my recipe for preparation.
Pizza never fails me. Nor does actually adopting the training mentality.
The Plan: meet Kate, run 10 miles around Northwest. Head into Rock Creek Park, run the next 12 on the trail, through the Mall, across bridges and back.
The Strategy: Race-sim! I didn’t stop to refuel; I did it on-the-run (no unnecessary stops on race day!). I mapped a route with minimal stop-light-pausing, hills (see above) & plenty of DC sight-seeing.
The Result: perfection. This was the run that told me the legs & mind are ready, this race will be a challenge worth completing.
Kate & I kept the pace easy, tackling the ups & downs of that portion. I made one Garmin mistake, forgetting to restart after pausing at an intersection.
When I left her, and “only” had 12 miles to go, that was just fine.
I cruised along, totally taken back and charmed by the pure bliss of running in DC, in the fall. Changing leaves, green grass, sunshine bouncing off of the Potomac, and the monuments beaming because they know it’s Saturday and everyone is admiring them. If there is a perfect Fall day, this was it.
I texted D at mile 19, “Feel amazing, 3 to go!”. I resisted the urge to keep running until Garmin said “22”, because OCD runner I am not (right?). 22 done; if there were 4.2 more on deck, I would’ve happily kept going.
How do you flush out the legs after 22 miles? Hop on the bike!
When Fall says “play”, we don’t argue.
Join Ivan & Epod, head to Gravelly Point – eat, and let planes fly way too close overhead.
Marine Corps, we’ll be good friends. Countdown: 13 days.