It is Wednesday the 24th of April at the time of starting this blog. I have just returned home from club run and completed my very last training run with any real speed… 7 miles with 2 at marathon pace. A run that I’m sure is meant to give a runner all the confidence in the world, but seems to strike fear into the heart of anyone who has to do it. I have 2 more training runs left: 5 recovery miles before work on Friday (Also the perfect excuse to wear running kit to the expo on Friday evening. Also the perfect example of my deep spiral into maranoia/taper crazies. I am LITERALLY worrying about what to wear to pick up my race number and collect all the samples I can fit into my bag), and an easy 4 miles on Saturday which will likely include parkrun. (If you are reading this pre-parkrun and see me running anything remotely faster than 9 minute miles, feel free to tell me to slow the **** down).
As it is the last week of training, the mileage and intensity have eased off, and I finally have some time to rest, relax and reflect on the past 18 weeks of training. Eighteen weeks is a long time! Throughout training, I have done over 700 miles, 184 laps of Osterley track, bought three new pairs of trainers, run in 3 different countries and eaten my weight in pasta several times over.
Training for this marathon couldn’t have come at a better time. It has made me physically stronger, a more resilient athlete and lifted me out of a dark place. There have been a few points during my training cycle that I’ve had to dig deep and find something within myself I didn’t think possible - mainly Fleet Half and my second 20 miler on that horrible windy Sunday in March. Sure, there were tears, but after that was a certain stubbornness and drive to keep going. I’ve begun to realise just how strong I am. How fierce I am and how resilient I am. As tough as those days were, I got through them and the other hundreds of miles necessary to make it to this point. Every obstacle along the way has made me more stronger and more focussed.
Mentally, this marathon came at the perfect time. You always hear about the positive benefits running has on your mental health, and I can absolutely 100% vouch for this. I was in a very dark place at the start of my training. My confidence and self worth were at an ultimate low, and was struggling with who I was and want I wanted. Training has allowed me to channel all this negative energy into running. Days when I was feeling down or low were converted into fuel for tough track sessions or long runs. Little by little, I began building myself up. I started listening to the positive voices around me telling me how strong I was, how valued I was and how worthy I was. Running has allowed me to rebuild myself mentally and become happy, self confident and resilient. When I say I #runhappy I mean it, because it has made me elated.
Also, running a million miles a week and eating relatively healthy has made me absolutely shed weight, develop a killer set of legs and due to my pre-race hot holiday, gave me an amazing tan.
My taper started in a rather enviable way with a trip to visit my parents in Palm Springs, California. It was a fitting end to the training as my parents watched my training begin during Christmas in Vancouver, and would get to see the very end stages at their home in Palm Spring. Also, after cheering in the heat last year, I knew a bit of hot weather training wouldn’t hurt! And oh man was it hot!! I foolishly woke up for a 7 am start on my first day… it was already 25 degrees in the shade! All subsequent runs took place between 5:30 and 6:15, which worked well with an 8 hour time change and gave adequate time to rest/work on my tan. I was also really silly and didn’t pack enough gels, and as it turns out, SIS gels are very hard to come across in Southern California. I was able to make due with local California dates, GU gels (yuck) and Gatorade blocks (YUM, YUM, YUM). I returned back from holidays refreshed, renewed and bronzed. My holiday was a fitting end to 18 weeks of obstacles, training and overall self improvement also set a clear way to transition from a training mentality to “race mode”.
Overall I am incredibly excited for Sunday. I feel my training plan has adequately prepared me for the race. The time I once found laughable now seems achievable.
I have a number.
I have a plan.
I have mile 23.
See you there!