It’s so hard not to go back and compare my training for this marathon, #5, to marathons 1 – 4. I know I shouldn’t compare paces and miles and other activities (cross and weights), because each plan I’ve followed has been so different and my life circumstances for each marathon have been so different (and I really think that impacts training and racing and general mental-readiness).
BUT, you all know that I am completely anal about my running stats, so you knew I’d look back and compare. It was inevitable. So what did I find? I am definitely not in as good of shape this time around as I was in previous training cycles. Example: The mile repeats I did this week were about 7:30 pace, versus 7:05 pace at this time before Illinois Marathon in May. Similar examples abound for tempo and intervals and MP runs. And mileage wise, I haven’t put in as many miles this time (work and life have interfered, and this training cycle was only 12 weeks). I only did two 20 milers during this training cycle (versus 3 for the others). I didn’t do any cross or weights or pilates during this training cycle (versus tons for the other marathons).
Is it because I’ve run less? Because I’ve been focusing on other life-stuff? Because I’m older (39!)? Who knows.
So you would think that going back and comparing and realizing all of this would be discouraging to me, right? WRONG! Because I look at how ultra-prepared and in shape I was during the first 4 marathon training cycles and then I look at the end result and how disappointed I was with each of those races, and I realize that being in BQ shape doesn’t mean a thing if you can’t execute on race day. And as much as I want to blame the end result of those races on the shitty weather and/or the poor fueling (leading to cramping/injury), I think a huge factor in the end result was that my training and race prep was missing something. I was missing the fun-factor. I was too focused on competing (against myself, for a BQ) and had lost sight of what really is important: that it be a fun, rewarding day. Yes, I looked forward to each of the races. But, if I’m being completely honest, what I was looking forward to for marathons #1 – #4 was getting them over with. Today while I was running, I was thinking about how much I cannot wait for next Sunday because I really want to run 26.2 miles and to savor every minute of it. I want to experience another marathon. I want to see the smiling faces of the spectators. I want to see the Fall colors around the lakes and on Summit. I actually want the pain that will be there during, and after, the marathon (sick, I know). I want to see my family along the race course. I want to see the bright pink runnin-from-the-law signs at mile 25. I want to cross the finish line and get another medal. And this time I don’t want it to just be done with. I really am looking forward to it.
And, for the record, even though my training paces are slower and my mileage was less, I still feel like I am in shape to kick some serious ass.