It’s no secret, I was pretty down on myself after the London Marathon. I wanted to continue running but I didn’t want to commit to racing or training. There are definitely pros and cons to not focusing on training but knowing there’s an upcoming marathon. Pros – I definitely give myself a lot more leeway when it comes to sticking to certain workouts or following a schedule. For the most part, I run when I feel like it and with the exception of the long runs, I don’t usually care about the distance of any of the runs. Cons – Mentally, you start doubting your ability to run the distance. I’m not running NYC for time (as I try to keep reminding myself over and over), but I don’t want to suffer through a miserable experience if I am not physically ready to run 26.2.
The last couple of long runs have helped build my mental strength – 18, 18, 13.1, and 20+ miles yesterday. Yesterday’s run started off rocky. Coach Brian organized a 20-miler for the Alzheimer’s Association team and November Project. The run was organized by pace and the group I signed up for – 9:30/10:00 min/mile was starting at 7:00AM. For the first time in the 4 years that I have been driving out for early morning runs, there was a lot of traffic going through the Lincoln Tunnel and I was late getting to the start. The group already left by the time I arrived so I ended up heading out 20 minutes later with Coach Ali and another teammate. About a mile into the run, I had to use the bathroom again, and made a stop at Chelsea Piers (P.S. for anyone running along the West Side Highway, this is a great public bathroom option). After that point, I ended up running the rest of the run by myself.
In overly dramatic runner fashion, I was upset and angry that I was late to the start and ended up missing the group. I was disappointed I would need to run nearly 20 miles by myself and even more disappointed that I didn’t have my headphones with me. I mean how could I possibly do a long run without people or headphones? Ironically, it ended up being one of the best 20-milers I’ve ever run. The route wasn’t too difficult navigate and more than 13 miles of it was on the marathon course. There were 3 water stops organized throughout the route, manned by awesome volunteers. Josh was at the first water stop, right at the start of the Williamsburg Bridge, about 6 miles in, and by the time I got there, I was in a runner’s high and forgot all about the morning’s stress.
I ran a conservative first half, averaging around 10 minute pace with the slowest mile on 1st Avenue in Manhattan (mile 12-13) due to the traffic lights and crowds. The last 7.5 miles were the fastest, averaging around 9:30 minute pace with the last mile at 9:13. I finished feeling strong, with energy left in the tank, and mentally confident. My fueling was on point and I was relatively consistent with pacing the entire way despite the traffic lights. I started slow, and along the flatter parts of the course, I was slightly faster, a little slower on the bridges and hills, but despite the rolling hills in the last parts of the route, I maintained a strong finish. Yesterday’s run without friends and music was exactly what I needed to build my mental strength.
In my experience, a marathon is 1/3 physical and 2/3 mental. I am hoping this new-found strength will carry me into the marathon and help me run a consistent race.
Hope everyone had a good weekend! Congratulations to all of my friends who ran the Chicago Marathon (especially Amanda who ran a 6 minute PR), Brooklyn RnR Half, and Staten Island Half.