From today, it is 21 days until my first marathon.
I am trying so hard to stay focused and positive. I am trying so hard to stay enthusiastic. I tried to drop a few pounds because I thought that would make the running easier, but I was hungry all the time and missing beer, so I comfortably gave up complete sobriety and kale. I am trying to think about how awesome I will feel for completing a marathon, because that’s a combination of goal setting, hard work, dedication, masochism, challenge, time commitment and financial investment. I registered for the race at the beginning of March 2017. I had seven months to prepare, so if I am not ready, there is no one to blame but myself.
Lately I’ve been registering for various races as part of my training. I like long distance races for a number of reasons. Most importantly, I don’t have to figure out where to run. It’s not a big deal for 12km or less, but if I have to find somewhere to run (preferably uninterrupted by traffic) for two to three hours, that’s more difficult. The nearest place to me to run for long distances is near a forest, which means I have to carry bear spray. If I’m running for a few hours, I need to bring water. If I’m doing a race, I don’t have to worry about carrying bear spray or water. That’s all provided. Every race I’ve ever done has some kind of medical staff at the race site, so I don’t need to worry about having a seizure and waking up alone/confused/injured. As a woman who runs alone, races have staff and volunteers for safety (amongst everything else those amazing people do). So in a race, I can just run and not worry about getting lost, where I am going, if I will find enough kilometres, if I will go through a thousand traffic intersections, carrying water and/or bear spray, watching out for creepers or significant concern for medical emergencies. I love races, and I certainly loved them when I started running. It was comforting to know that there was support available, whether I had a seizure or experienced something everyone is at risk for (like becoming dehydrated or twisting an ankle).
This past weekend, I ran a 30k race for fun. That is the furthest distance I have ever been registered for in one race. It was meant to be a test to see how ready I am for the marathon. It didn’t help that in the week leading up to it I wasn’t feeling well and only managed one 10k run. Totally unprepared. My final time was (brace yourself): 3:29:16. I came in 90th out of 95 runners. In retrospect, I should have come in last.
Why should I have come in last? Because as much as I love races, I should have remembered a few things. First off, racing as part of training comes with its own set of difficulties. I am somewhat competitive, so when the race gun went off and we started running, I started racing. I did the first half at a 5 minute/km pace. A lot of the first half was uphill too, which is easier for me. Thus, the second half was downhill and I am TERRIBLE at downhill. Second thing to remember is to listen to my body. I bashed up my knee but kept trying to run even with the downhill part of the race. I struggled to walk for the rest of Saturday and Sunday. It was just that when everyone went off, quickly and immediately, I knew that I could keep up (at least at the beginning) and I didn’t want to be left behind. If my long run is a race, I need to remember that I am using the long runs to train my body to endure a few hours of running, not see how quickly I can get through it. Certainly not to get injured while training.
This past weekend, I also did an obstacle course for a work event. I’ve done an obstacle course before, although it was outdoors in the summer. I have no idea what place our team came in, but it was so much fun and regardless of place, we definitely rocked it. I would absolutely recommend it. Nothing was so high to climb that in the case that a seizure hit that I would fall very far (or like trying to climb a 15-foot wall and just simply not making it and falling), and everything was well padded in that case. I was very impressed with the facility. Plus while leaping over fences and swinging on ropes, I kind of felt like a superhero.
This upcoming weekend I am registered for a half marathon in Banff. I’m pretty darn excited for that, because Banff is a beautiful place. I’ve never done this particular race, but I know it’s popular. I really loved doing the Banff Marathon, so this should be great. When I look at the calendar and see all the races I’m registered for, it seems like so many. The thing is, most days, those races aren’t even the number of kilometres I’m supposed to be doing for training. The race that was 30km required an extra 2km. The upcoming half marathon in Banff will require an extra 3km.
I will definitely keep in mind the things that I was reminded of this past weekend. Just because it’s a race doesn’t mean I need to race. If something hurts, pay attention. I’m not Wonder Woman (even if during the obstacle course I felt like it!).