05 October 2011

final countdown

*I wrote this on Sunday and then never posted it because follow-through is my #1 strong point. So I am editing it to make sense...but it might not, still, I'M SORRY.

I am leaving for Chicago in two days. Things I need to do before then:

Go for a pain-free run. I went out to do an easy five miles Saturday and capped it at three because my legs were so tight and sore. I haven’t been stretching lately at all, mostly because I keep doing super-long runs right before I have to go to work. This is stupid. My legs hate me and I don’t blame them. I am doing lots of foam-rolling and telling my legs how pretty they are. We will try to run again tomorrow. Please stop hating me, friends. It's Not Sunday Anymore Update: My legs and I ran three miles last night and we are sort of on speaking terms again. The spot where my IT band connects to my right knee is sore but I don't care about that; it's an injury I have been dealing with for more than a year and I know I can push through it and that it is okay for me to do that, per the advice of the fabulous Dr. Weber. It is my left hamstring I'm more concerned with - it's tight and kind of a dull pain. After my run I spent about a half an hour doing hamstring-focused stretching and then I foam-rolled and iced and it is MUCH MUCH better today. Yesterday's run was super slow for me (9:50 pace) and I kept thinking "If I had to run 26 miles on these legs I could." But it's easy to say that when you're running really slowly and it's, you know, not necessary to actually run 26 miles. SO WE WILL SEE. Fingers crossed! And legs! Toes! Etc!

Yeah. You better get over that quick, bitches, because we'll be spending a lot of quality time together on Sunday.

Buy a suitcase. I have attic storage in my house, which is where my suitcases are, but the ladder comes down on my dresser and moving the dresser is a pain and anyway the zippers on the suitcase that fits into the overhead compartment are broken and I am NOT. PAYING. To check a bag even though buying a new suitcase will probably be more expensive, also I’m broke and run-on sentences and logic like this are probably the reasons why, whatever. Shiny new suitcase!

PACK. UGH. I know what I’m going to wear for the race, sort of (if you are wondering if the outfit involves tiny shorts, the answer is yes, yes it does). I’d like to get a new tech tee in an annoying color so my family can find me, and stick my name on it so strangers will cheer for me, but I don’t know where I can do that around here. I think they sell these types of things at the expo, right? Anybody? Bueller?

Buy gels. I take them every 45 minutes, so just to be safe I should buy…what? Six? Seven? Math is hard, time math is harder. English major for life.

Figure out if I should run with a pace group or what. Here’s what I know: This race is going to hurt. I don’t know at what point, but I know it’s going to hurt. I don’t have a time goal in mind, really; I’d like to finish in around four hours and I think based on my training runs, that’s realistic, but I also think that after 20 miles all bets are off. I think it might be smart to latch onto a slower pace group (say, 4:45? 4:30?) for the first 13-17 miles, see how I feel and then increase or decrease my pace as needed. I also think maybe I should just run how I feel. Does anyone have thoughts?

Buy throw-away clothes for the starting line. The forecast is showing 65-ish degrees and sunny, but it’ll be cold in the morning for sure. So I need to get some super-stylish sweats. I guess I should look for pants that I can take off easily, in case I want to actually run in them for awhile.

Y’all, I’m flailing a little here. Any advice is appreciated. I am capable of getting to the airport and on a plane on time, but after that it’s all pretty much up in the air. The biggest race I’ve run so far is the Charlottesville Half Marathon. A) that race was not big and B) I ran it with my exceedingly-good-at-life father who took care of all the logistics.

I know where and when to get my packet and that’s about it. I mean, I know where the race starts, I know I’m supposed to get there early to check in my gear, etc. BUT. FOR EXAMPLE. I am running with Team PAWS (the charity I did fundraising for), and they have their own gear check. So I should go there, right? They're "strongly recommending" that people get there at 5:30, do I REALLY need to do that, because the race doesn’t start until 7:30 and I won’t know anyone so that’s just a LOT of time to stand around in the dark wishing I had more coffee? How do I find my gear after? How do I find my family after? Should I bring my handheld water bottle even though there will be water? (Duh, yes. That one isn’t a real question. And if I get tired of it I’m just going to chuck it at my dad as I run by him. WHICH MAKES FINDING HIM SORT OF A NECESSITY.)

Anyway, all of the crap I have left to do notwithstanding, I am mostly looking forward to the race. Yes, it is going to hurt. I did not train (or blog about training) as much as I wanted to going into my first marathon. But I don’t care. I still think it’s going to be really fun. Because I believe the last six miles will be awful, I have picked six important people in my life and dedicated one of those miles to each of them. (Actually, I picked eight, but two of them are couples.) So in addition to the money I raised for homeless animals, in addition to the crazy experience of training for a marathon then running it with 40,000 other people, I have those wonderful people to get me through the hardest part of the race.

AND! SPOILER ALERT! I decided to run that last 1.2 miles all for me. It turns out, in the crazy way my life works sometimes, that the day of the race is the one-year anniversary of the day I got back to Wisconsin after breaking up with my boyfriend and leaving California. For the most part it’s been a spectacularly crappy year for me; I have gone through and dealt with and, most importantly, overcome a huge boatload of crap* and I can’t think of a better way to close that chapter than by taking a 26.2-mile race and kicking it square in the teeth. If I can overcome everything I have in the past year, I can sure as hell tackle a marathon. Bring it, Chicago.

*I also managed to have a little fun. Take that, past year!

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