A friend at work asked me today, “Isn’t the Chicago Marathon pretty soon?”
As if I wasn’t already starting to feel pangs of anxiety about the looming date and my assumed fitness, this question struck me rather pointedly.
“Yeah,” I responded, “just under 2 months from now.”
I try to tell myself that 2 months is a long time to get ready for the race, but when something this big is approaching, 2 months goes by reeeeeeeeal quick. And I want to be ready. And right now I’m still not.
For instance, today was a tough workout. 15 miles total with the middle 6 starting at Marathon Goal Pace (5:18) and ending at Half-Marathon Pace (5:10). Starting out into the warmup my legs were heavy and actually my legs were heavy all day. I was just damn tired. I hoped the warmup would shake them out, but that didn’t happen. I launched into the first mile and felt myself struggling, but trying not to run too hard. I went through at 5:21…ehh, I’ll take it. I then continued on and found myself struggling even harder, only to pass the mile marker at 5:24….eh, I won’t take it. Then as I tried to push hard into the 3rd mile, hoping something would click and I’d start rolling smooth, everything started to get worse. I was struggling to get my breath and my legs just wouldn’t push off the ground, still feeling like gravity was kicked up a couple notches. I blew up halfway into the mile. From then on I tried to recover and then run fast for a mile or so, but could never get going. I finally threw in the towel and just worked to drag my ass back home to complete the 15 miles. Granted, it didn’t help that it was 90 degrees out, but at least it wasn’t humid!
This was a big blow to my confidence. It’s weird to run 5:10 miles for 5 miles straight two weeks earlier and then come back and struggle to run a 5:21 mile for 2 consecutive miles. Obviously, something is off. It could be a number of things, but I don’t want to offer excuses. I just want to take this and move on.
But that question looms….”Isn’t Chicago coming pretty soon?” Yes. Yes it is. But let’s not get carried away. Let’s break down the timeline and see what’s really going to happen before October 10th.
We’ve got approximately 7 weeks of training left. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but even with a 2 week taper, we’re looking at about 5 to 6 long runs, now with speed and quality added. That’s at least another hundred miles of long and fast running. Beyond that, we have approximately 12 to 14 more speed workouts, the very foundation of our speed and endurance. That’s a LOT of quality and a LOT of miles still…probably around 210 miles of strong, strong efforts. Those workouts are going to undeniably have a big effect on our fitness come race day, no matter where we are at right now. Then add to those workouts, 4 more recovery days a week at a minimum of 10 miles a day, and right there we still have at least 280 more miles to add to our legs…probably more. In all, that’s another 600 or so miles leading up to race day. That’s significant. That’s a lot of room for improvement.
Now “less than 2 months” doesn’t seem so close and gives me hope that my fitness will continue to grow as the final date grows near.
For all of us, at our respective levels, no matter what our goals are, we still have a sufficient amount of time to get where we want to go. Try not to get too discouraged just yet…the weather is going to turn over and our legs will do the same, quicker and quicker. Onward friends.