Tomorrow is the Mercedes Marathon. For the second time, I will be running the full marathon (I have run either the half or the full every year since 2012). The first time, if you may recall, did not go as planned. This time, I have approached the race a little differently. I am going with a modified run-walk plan, where I will break the running into roughly five-mile blocks, with 1/4-mile walk breaks. In this, I hope to avoid the dreaded leg cramps that seem to plague me during long races.
I was going into the race hoping that if conditions were favorable, I could come in somewhere around 3:55 or so. Unfortunately, the weather doesn’t seem like it’s going to cooperate. It’s currently unseasonably warm (the high today was over 70 degrees), and tomorrow it’s supposed to rain almost all day, including during the time of the race, while remaining roughly the same temperature. Needless to say, this isn’t optimal for running a marathon. So I’ve had to check my expectations a little bit.
Given this, here’s my goal list for the race, in order of easiest to most difficult to accomplish:
- Finish; have fun; don’t get hurt. This is always my first goal, but it’s even more appropriate for the marathon. The last time I did this, I was so disappointed by the result that I didn’t even think about doing another one until now. I’m hoping for this to be a much better experience.
- PR. My personal record for the race, of course, would be my first marathon’s finish time. I don’t remember it down to the second, but I know that it was 4 hours, 23 minutes, and change. So anything under 4:23 is a PR in my book.
- Sub-4:10. Even with the higher temperatures and rain, I think that this is certainly doable, provided I don’t cramp too early in the race. Speaking of which…
- Run 25+ miles. An optimal race would be four blocks of five miles, four quarter-mile walks, and the fifth block being mile 21 to the finish. That would put me over 25 miles, and assuming a reasonable pace, within striking distance of my A goal…
- Sub-4:00. Yes, I’m still holding out hope. If we don’t get pouring rain, and maybe the wind’s not too bad, and it doesn’t get up to 70 but more like 65 instead, I might just be able to sneak in under four hours. That’s asking an awful lot, though.
We’ll see how it all turns out tomorrow! In the meantime, I’m off to try to get some sleep!
I made a resolution at the beginning of the year to run at least 50 miles’ worth of races this year. So far, due to the Mercedes Half Marathon, helping my sister run a ten-miler, and the Statue to Statue 15K on Saturday, I’m already 3/5 of the way there. The only problem? There isn’t another race on my schedule right now. I need to keep my motivation up. I’m thinking my next one will be something shorter-distance than these past three. I want to lower my 5K PR this year; maybe that’s next on the list.
I also want to find something long-term to work towards. The Birmingham Track Club’s focusing on the 7 Bridges Marathon and 4 Bridges Half-Marathon in Chattanooga this fall, almost exactly six months from now. That’d be good long-term motivation, right?
I ran for the first time since Mercedes on Sunday. It was just 5K, but it was much needed. Some runners will tell you that they’ll start getting cranky if they can’t run after a few days. That hadn’t been an issue for me in the past, but this past Saturday I was just in a mood. I realized that runner’s knee or not, I was going to have to get out and run soon or things were going to get worse. 5K later, my knee didn’t seem any worse for wear, but I knew that I’d need to take it easy in the next few days. So I decided to try biking for my next cardio workout.
I determined that I would ride my stationary bike while watching a half-hour TV show. I found myself wanting that show to get over ASAP. But I managed to get through it. It’s interesting to me that I can run for almost two hours, but biking for 30 minutes is really hard. I know that you’re using different muscle groups, but come on, it’s still your legs, right?
I’m going to go back to running tomorrow. I’m running with my sister in a ten-miler on Saturday, and I need to log some more miles before then. I just hope that the by-now familiar numbness will stay away.
Now that my legs have stopped being sore, I’ve found that the runner’s knee that I first experienced a couple of years back has returned. Fortunately, my variant of runner’s knee isn’t painful. The area around my kneecap just goes numb. It was strange enough the last time to cause me to go to a sports doctor, who diagnosed it and sent me to a physical therapist who helped me through it.
I haven’t run since Mercedes; I had intended to take a week off from running after the race all along. Every now and then I find that i need to take a week off; it just lets my body recuperate from the accumulated wear and tear. My knee just seals the deal. I guess that it’s time to find the exercise diagrams the physical therapist gave me back then so that I can start doing them again while chiding myself about how I shouldn’t have stopped doing them in the first place. In the meantime, I suppose I’ll be getting more familiar with stationary bikes and elliptical machines in the near future.
Here’s the new medal rack! The 2015 Mercedes medal is the dark blue ribbon, third from the left. I’m going to have to start staggering ribbon lengths soon!
People who know about my running probably know that I consider the Mercedes Marathon something akin to my “Super Bowl” race. It’s my hometown marathon. It’s the site of my first completed half-marathon and marathon. It’s generally the race that I get most pumped about every year since I’ve started racing.
So it was a pretty daunting task in front of me on the morning of October 27, 2014. The race was four months away – and I had just come out of surgery.
I finished the Mercedes Marathon today.
That six-word sentence does not even begin to tell the tale of this day.