I have a marathon coming up in 5 weeks. Yes, FIVE WEEKS. I haven't even officially started training yet, and I'm still holding on to some strange bizzare glimmer of hope that I'm going to be able to run 26.2 miles on March 28th, 2010. Am I crazy? or just very determined? You be the judge.
It's not like I'm even conditioned like I was last time. Before the Philly Marathon, although I was very lackadaisical in my training efforts, I still ran whenever I felt like it, which turned out to be 3-4 days each week, and when I wasn't running, I was cross-training: boxing, kick-boxing, Pilates, Yoga, weight-lifting, you name it, I did it. I was in the second-best shape of my entire life! (The best shape I was EVER in was about 4 months out of college, when I belonged to 4 gyms, taught classes at three of them, and was gung-ho about everything and anything fitness... that year, my entire Christmas list consisted of exercise equipment and workout clothes. No lie.) So, anywho, here I am today, no where near the base fitness level I achieved in fall '08. I have a lot of work to do just to get caught up to that level. Before I can even dream of beginning hard core marathon training, I've got to get a solid foundation of weekly mileage and cardiovascular fitness... and I'm quickly running out of time!! I know I found myself in a similar predicament last time, when I had my wake-up call approx 6 weeks before Philly, butttt - I repeat - back then I was already in awesome shape without even realizing it. I exercised obsessively every day, I pushed myself to the limit on a regular basis. Now I don't do any of that... heck, I'm lucky if I force myself out the door for a run twice a week. That's about the extent of my glorious fitness regimen right now.
This past week was the first week that could actually classify as "training." Up until this point, my weekly mileage has been pretty stagnant. For at least the past two months, I've been running about 6-7 miles. I seriously can't remember the last time my weekly mileage broke 7. Then, this week, I kind of jumped right in. On Wednesday, I ran 5 miles. On Thursday, I ran 6 miles. Then today, I ran 10 miles!!! That's right, TEN MILES! I know experienced distance runners will scoff at my excitement, but to me this is tremendous! That is my longest run so far this year... this season... quite possibly since I've moved to NJ (with the exception of the Philly Distance Run in Oct..) this is HUGE, people! So my total mileage for this week was 21 miles.
So today I set out to run 10 miles and that's exactly what I did. It's not as simple as it sounds. Around miles 1-2 I was thinking "this sucks, this was such a bad idea. I'm already tired & out of breath, and overdressed in too many layers so I'm over-heating. It's going to be dark before I get home... Turn around and go back now before you slip on the ice or get hit my a car. You'll never survive... this was such a terrible, terrible idea"... then around mile 4 I started to get my groove and thought to myself "this really isn't so bad. just take it easy. slow & steady wins the race... or in this case, slow & steady finishes the long run without dying. maybe, just maybe, you CAN do this" ... by mile 5 I was cruising along but still scolding myself for leaving the house so late & fearing for my life by running at sundown... on a happier note it was Saturday so I didn't have to worry about the typical rush-hour cars clogging the road during the 5-o'clock hour... at mile 6 I was really getting the hang of it and was almost hesitant to stop, but I was getting hungry so I needed to re-fuel, plus I wanted to check my progress and the time. I checked my phone & was thrilled to discover that I'd been running for an hour so far! I ate a few sports beans and proceeded... around mile 7 I thought to myself "this is it! the final stretch! only 5k left!" and miles 8-9 were consumed by thoughts of "this is it... almost there... don't stop now... keep on going... my nose is running... and I really could use some more sports beans... but I'm not stopping for anything until I finish..." I followed through right to the end and sprinted all-out in the apartment complex! Boy, am I ever proud of myself. Maybe this marathon actually is within my reach. Yes, I'm still holding on to hope that I will be marathon-ready by March 28th, 2010. I guess you can call me crazy-determined. A few lofty goals and a little insanity never hurt anyone. Let the madness begin!