(Originally written on October 13, 2011)
Three more days to go before the marathon. The last two weeks I have been tapering down, and for this final week of training, I have two 5-mile runs which I have already done and a 3-mile run on Saturday. I’m getting a little nervous and excited at the same time. It’s been six years since I did my first marathon and I am definitely confident I am going to finish Sunday’s marathon with a faster time. The first one I did pretty much on a whim, although I did that with a training group through Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training program. It was really helpful to be part of an enthusiastic group of runners, all doing it for the love of running and for charity. Our running coach, Lori Muhr, was very supportive, and up to this day, I will always remember the tips and advice I got from her, from running your own pace and running your own race to R.I.C.E. to epsom salt soaks and cold showers after a long run. If it wasn’t for this initial running boost, I wouldn’t have taken up running at all. I should mention that my friend, Krista, is mostly responsible for me becoming an avid runner. She initially approached me about doing the marathon with Team In Training and we became running buddies since then. I fell in love with running right then and there. And like any “relationship” built with love, my running relationship is not without lows and highs.
The first few months of running regularly was literally a honeymoon stage. My old apartment room window faced east, so the sunrise served as my alarm clock and I am usually up at 5 or 530am to run! These were short morning runs and I was pretty much in this kind of routine for about 3 or 4 months, 2 to 3 times a week. It also helped that I had the first marathon as a motivation. I discovered I had weak knees and had issues during the long runs, but this didn’t stop me from completing my first running goal. My first road race was a local 6k in Worcester and I can still remember how excited and exhausted I was – it was a 90, almost 100 degree day and we were running on hot pavement in the middle of the day. Still, I was mostly on a runner’s high up until marathon number 1. However, after finishing the marathon, Run(ning) and I went downhill, partly because winter was coming – I was afraid to go out in the bitter cold to run – but mostly because of advance course work and preparation for the qualifying examination left me with little extra time for other things. I left running on the side, and I only came back for it after I passed my qualifying exam. That was almost a year of no running at all. It was tough getting back, and I had to train my body all over again.
Love for running didn’t come back as quickly as I hoped so, and we were in an on again-off again mode for the most part of my graduate school. I ran 5ks and such, but it didn’t give me the same thrill and excitement that I have experienced before, and that I experience now. I also had a knee injury that had me visiting a physical therapist for rehabilitation and it was not fun. Then I started listening to podcasts, again through my friend Krista. She told me about this priest who hosts a podcast and is an avid runner. Listening to him talk about running made me realize the great things that running has to offer. So in the fall of 2008, I decided to sign-up and train for a virtual half-marathon that Nike+ offered to those who could not make it to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. I ran the 13.1 distance out and back and a couple of times over through the West Boylston rail trail. This was the first time I trained on my own and I felt really good about it! That was the tipping point of my relationship with Run(ning), and I’m glad I tipped over and fell in love again. From that moment on, I set running goals for myself. Since 2008, I ran 7 half marathons, including the virtual Nike+ run, a handful of 5ks, 10ks, and 7 milers. I also was able to finish two sprint triathlons (this was something I really dreamed of doing). Early this year, after signing up for a half marathon trilogy in Cape Cod, I thought I was ready to tackle another marathon. My self-confidence to train on my own for a marathon improved tremendously when I started to run outside and train on the treadmill during the winter months. It took a while to get used to the monotony (and the dizziness) of treadmill running, much more with running outside, with snowbanks filling the sidewalks and below freezing wind chills that numb your senses. The moment I finished the first half marathon of the Cape Cod trilogy, running through snow, sleet and freezing rain, I knew I was ready to run another marathon. And so here I am.
Three more days. That is what is left. I think I trained well, although not enough, but I’m confident I will finish. And I’m pretty sure this isn’t going to be my last marathon.