Marathon Training: 23!

I have less than 3 weeks left until my marathon. Although I still have a couple weeks of training left, the truth is I sort of feel done. Mostly because, I finished my last ridiculously long training run this past weekend. It was 23 miles. I don’t plan to run anything further than 9 miles between now and the marathon. And after running 23, 9 is like a complete cake walk. So, yeah. I feel sorta done.

My 23 mile run was a pretty defining moment for me though. I dreaded it. I tried to talk myself into thinking I didn’t need to do it at all. I tried to talk myself into thinking I could put it off and do it next week. But this week really seemed like the week it needed to be done so my legs would get a break to get rested. Or as the fancy runner types call it, “tapering.” I made up my mind Sunday would be the day only to have my husband explain to me Saturday morning that Sunday was actually going to be a long rainy day. Um. Yeah. Saturday it is! Surprise! Off I go!

And it actually went pretty well. No really.

I’m not saying it was a cake walk. And I’m not saying it didn’t feel long. But it didn’t feel as bad as I thought it would. Maybe I’d just built it up in my head as a horrific thing to have to do. I don’t know.

I do know I decided to test out Jeff Galloway’s strategy of running a mile and walking a minute. He claims that helps your legs last the whole way and my calves have been jello by the end of all my super long runs. So I figured it was worth a try. I started walking a minute around mile 3. I didn’t love that it meant looking at my watch a lot. Both to watch for when I had gone a mile but also to watch for when it had been 1 minute of walking. I prefer to try to zone out and not pay attention. So that took some getting used to. But, I’ll be darned if my calves didn’t feel better. At mile 20 as I’m still plugging away, I could really feel the difference compared to my last long run of 20.5 miles. My calves didn’t feel nearly as jello-ish. That Jeff Galloway fella knows what he’s talking about! 
That's the face of a woman that can't believe she ran 8 miles and is only 1/3 of the way done.  

I also successfully planned out the route for my run ahead of time. Kudos to the wise Shelley for suggesting I get on the MapMyRun website which makes route planning nearly idiot proof.  I felt better having a plan.  I ate 1 ½ packs of fruit chews during my run and my husband was nice enough to deliver a banana and some peanut butter to me around mile 10. I inhaled them and am pretty convinced they saved my life. Although I do tend to be overdramatic. But still. I just can’t imagine how I would have lasted without it and I’m now contemplating taking a banana with me to eat halfway through my marathon. 

Mile 23 was by far the hardest mile. Duh. I had to make myself finish it and I walked at least half of it. I comforted myself that it was my last super long run and that I just had to suck it up a little longer.  And then it was done. Finally.
This is the face of a woman who is tired and cold and still has another 8 miles to go.  And yet, her calves were fine.  So there's that.

23 miles. 23. Done.  That's insane.  But it happened.  I'd subject the interwebs to a photo of my Garmin but who cares.  4 1/2 hours.  Roughly.  And that includes stopping the watch while I was in the bathroom.  It also includes not stopping the watch during my walk breaks.  Whatever.

Later that evening while soaking my tired feet in the tub, I had an epiphany. Not an epiphany about why training for a marathon is hard. And not an epiphany about how long 23 miles is. I’ve long since had those epiphanies.

This time it was an epiphany about why training for a marathon has been rough on my waistline. I gave up trying to cut calories in the last month because I didn’t want to feel like I had no energy to get it done. That helped a lot. It’s amazing what having enough calories can do for you!

But on top of needing more calories, I also found myself not being able to resist things. Things I thought I’d gotten a handle on over the course of my year and a half long health kick. But while training for my marathon I was chowing down constantly. Some was chowing down brought on by knowing that I’d given myself permission to eat anything. But some was just some flat out grazing type stuff.

And then it hit me. It’s because I’m just hungrier. Every trick I used to help me lose 60 pounds involved making sure I felt full and avoiding feeling starving. Because when I’m starving, making good food decisions feels hard. Because when I’m starving, I feel weaker and less capable of resisting temptations.

On top of that, when I’m super hungry, I eat faster and the faster I eat, the more food I shove in my face. And it can take a minute for my brain to catch up and realize I’m not starving anymore and I don’t need to keep eating. So a lot of extra food gets inhaled. It took me awhile to catch on that that was how I ended up inhaling too many snacks while making dinner or was more likely to just swing through a drive thru on the way home. So then I started eating an apple on my drive home from work. I’d walk in the door capable of making dinner like a normal person. Snacks every 2 hours seem to do the same thing for me between meals.

But marathon training hunger is big and deep. By mile 23, I was like a human vacuum sucking down food as soon as my exhausted butt got to the kitchen. I remember peanut butter crackers and more peanut butter crackers and more peanut butter crackers while waiting for my Jimmy Johns double meat Vito to arrive and then I inhaled that, too. I inhaled a bunch of other stuff later that night. And the next day, too. Because I was so hungry it’s not even funny.
Me and my double meat Vito from Jimmy Johns.
The hunger wasn’t as big and deep the next day, but it was still bigger and deeper than normal. I don’t know if the first sign of hunger was just making my brain go into panic mode thinking I’m going to go back to the depth of hunger like the day before. But I know I’ve been eating more and having a hard time stopping.

I didn’t realize that would happen! I just thought running longer distances would burn more calories and burning more calories means dropping weight. Shows how much I know! I’ll be glad to pack the human vacuum away in the closet after the marathon itself. She’s a troublemaker.
Next up is the actual marathon. I’m also finishing one last book about marathons that focuses on the mental preparation. I thought I’d hate it because “mental preparation” just sounds cheesy. But it’s currently explaining to me how I should talk to myself inside my head and how to stay positive. Just last night I subjected my husband to the part about when I start complaining about something and how I should just conclude the complaint with “but it doesn’t matter.”

I’m tired. But it doesn’t matter. I hate hills. But it doesn’t matter. I feel like I’ve been running forever. But it doesn’t matter.

This blog post is too long. But it doesn’t matter. I’ve been rambling about marathon training for six months now. But it doesn’t matter.

2 and ½ weeks and counting! That does matter though!

My Handy Marathon Training Summary:
Week 1 – 5 miles. So pleasant! Can’t believe I’m done already! Whee!
Week 2 – 6 miles. Yeah. That’s a training run. Hope the weather cools off soon.
Week 3 – 7 miles. Death March. Kill me now.
Week 4 – 8 miles. Did it! Yeah, for cooler weather! Finally! Felt pretty decent.
Week 5 – 9 miles. Is my Garmin broken? How did I magically get to mile 8 already? This is crazy awesome!
Week 6 – The Mysterious Bubonic Plague hit and my gluteus was left sore thanks to a giant
shot of antibiotics.
Week 7 – 10 miles. Is my Garmin broken again? This is crazy awesome times 2! Except for the last mile that involved time stopping and the mile lasting 6 years.
Week 8 – 11 miles. Shoot me now and put me out of my misery. Death March Part Deux. Things just got real.
Week 9 – Zero miles. Iced my foot so much I had a frostbite scare and got through 13 episodes of Breaking Bad.
Week 10 - 12 miles.  I'm back!  No foot pain!  Who cares about anything else!
Week 11 - Zero miles.  Cold weather camping
Week 12 - 4.5 miles plus another 5 walking.  Recovering from mysterious illness contracted while cold weather camping.  Randomly warm, humid weather sapped my will to live.
Week 13 - 15 miles!  Long freezing Gerbil Wheel of Death with stomach issues for 10 miles.
Week 14 - 9 miles. So refreshingly pleasant because it wasn't 15 miles. 
Week 15 - Zero miles.  Ice apocalypse outside.
Week 16 - 17 miles.  Long.  Duh.  Exhausted calves.  But could have been a lot worse.  I'll take it.
Week 17 - 9 miles.  Like being on vacation compared with 17.
Week 18 - 6 miles.  Twice on the hotel treadmill while traveling. Thumbs up.
Week 19 - 19 miles.  22 mph Arctic Tundra winds blowing in my face for 4 hours.  My soul is still shivering.
Week 20 - 2 miles.  Why did trying Whole30 seem like a good idea while training for a marathon?
Week 21 - 20.5 miles. 15 really good miles.  5.5 miles of bathroom stops. 
Week 22 - 8.5 miles.  Anything is preferable to a long run over 20 miles. 
Week 23 - 23 miles.  23.  No, really.  23.  That's 20 plus another 3.  And it wasn't the end of the world.   Holler at a player, yo.


Shan said...

You are amazeballs!

Julia Lewis said...

Just found your blog and absolutely love it and how thoughfully you describe it! Best of luck on the marathon!

Shelley said...

You ran 23 miles. DANG!!! Glad to hear that MMR helped with your route - I love that site. And how amazing that throwing in a single minute of walking per mile made such a difference...sounds like you've got a good plan for not feeling completely crippled after your marathon! (One of my running buddies ran a marathon in December and the next day posted "I need a wheelchair" on FB, lol)

I should know this, but what marathon are you doing?

Lady Kennedy said...

Good luck with your venture! It is wonderful that you ran 23 miles! I have always wanted to run a marathon, but never stuck to my goal. Maybe following you will motivate me and keep me on point.

Sara Turner said...

that's increadible! good luck on race day! You make me need to get out for a run (only it's -28 right now...so maybe I'll wait)!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...