My girlfriend sent me this photo the other day which means less than 25 days . . . yikes!
Yes, a reality check that the LA Marathon which sounded like an awesome idea when I signed up a couple of months ago is fast approaching . . . the fear has set in! This isn’t my first marathon, in fact, I ran three (Los Angeles and NYC, twice) 20+ years ago! I was in my twenties, single and had just moved to Los Angeles. Life was very different back then! So it may not be my first but after so many years I am going to go with it almost feels like a first! My approach to this one is so very different than when I was in my twenties . . .
Years ago running was as much about the social component as the fitness part. I had joined running clubs in New York and Los Angeles – I ran with a pack of other runners where we chatted and laughed our way through the endless miles. There were long breakfasts after runs on the weekends, we raced whenever possible and some of my closest friends including my future father in law I met running.
The chaotic life of motherhood pushed the idea of running marathons out of my realm of possibility years ago. Who had the time, the desire? But life changes, the kids are teens, my time freed up and what started as just adding in a day of running into my fitness routine back in September suddenly morphed into the goal of completing the LA & NYC marathons this year! Yes, I know sort of a crazy idea but heck goals are a good thing! 🙂
Running for me today is more about the feel-good feeling I get after a run. It’s about feeling empowered and strong and it’s about challenging myself physically and mentally. It’s just me out there. I’m not part of a running group, my running partner got injured back in January so this truly has been a solo journey. This time I around I don’t run every day like I did 20 years ago. Experience has taught me the importance of cross-training to prevent injuries and keep me better balanced in my overall fitness. As much as I love cardio, I’ve learned strength and stretching are increasingly necessary for my body and rest days are key.
Long runs by myself have been a challenge . . . 10, 12, 14, 15, 16 miles at first seemed daunting and impossible but have taught me a new level of mental toughness which I hope I will draw upon come marathon day. And boy have I got a library full of great music on my phone – over 4 1/2 hours!
Years ago when I ran alone I would hold my Sony Walkman, you know the ones that held a cassette tape and were huge! And then technology advanced and I moved to a smaller one that wrapped around my arm and got AM/FM radio which looking back only meant frustration on trying to tune in your station. Today music has carried me through many miles – I find myself running to the tempo of the song and have even caught myself singing aloud a few times as someone smiles or chuckles as they pass me.
The interesting thing about this running journey is I physically feel pretty much the same as I did over 20 years ago. My pace is similar pace which leads me to believe I wasn’t as fast as I thought. The difference is I am so much more in tune with my body now, years ago I just ran – oh the joy of being young.
But I have fears, fears I don’t think I had years ago. I fear the mental and physical struggle of running 26.2 miles. That fear has already crept into my last couple long runs. I have learned over the last few weeks how to play mind games with myself when the going gets tough, how to not give in to fatigued legs, to push myself through those last 30 minutes of a run which seem endless. I have been trying visualization but I worry for I remember hitting the 20-mile mark before and all the training in the world doesn’t prepare you for those last 6 miles – it is all about mindset.
Right now – today – my fear is all about getting through tomorrow’s 20-mile run – the last big hurdle of training. I know fears are irrational but it doesn’t make them any less scary. Tomorrow I am not going at it alone. My girlfriend who lives in the valley is joining me – together we will do this as hard as it might and will be! After that, it’s the homestretch and I can worry about the more important things like what I am going to wear on race day. 🙂
Come March 18th my goal is to finish, to stay upright and to keep moving. What’s different from 23 years ago is my kids and husband will be there to support me on race day and that will make it even sweeter!
Let the countdown begin!
Some of my running essentials and favorites: