When a runner hears that the marathon race he registered for is 16 weeks out, bells and whistles sound in his most inner-being. If he hasn’t already, this will be the week that he begins his marathon training plan. I ran my first marathon in 2007 – the ING NYC Marathon…
I had decided in June of that year to run the NYC Full. I was clueless as to what it would take to accomplish this feat. I had been talking about my dreams to run a marathon with my good friends Charles and Connie. Charles was a skilled, seasoned runner – almost qualifying for the US Olympic Team and winning an ultra marathon. Charles assured me that I would be able to pull off my plan of completing a marathon. He said all I needed to do was find a 16 week training schedule and follow it religiously. My body would respond and get into the shape necessary to complete 26.2 miles.
The plan I followed was from a Runner’s World magazine. It was for beginners and included easy runs, speed work and a weekly long run. The speed work builds strength and speed, and the long run builds endurance. The long run is touted as being the most important run of the week. Covering the distance in your long runs will help ensure that you cover the distance on race day. Often you will see the letters LSD – this means Long Slow Distance. Don’t worry about your time, just get the miles under your belt.
I chose to do all of my training on the country roads near my home. Even the speed work days were run by running fast between telephone poles and then letting up until the next pole. I would leave very early on Friday mornings for my long runs. Often I would leave my house by 5 am. You know you are making a big mistake if you shut your alarm and turn over in bed. Getting a late start on a long run can be devastating in the hot weather. I had one long run that I couldn’t finish due to heat. My husband happened to take a ride out in our van to check on me and I hopped into the van for a ride home. I was at mile 14 of a 16 mile run and was totally wasted from the heat. I had started the run later than I should have – about 8 am.
During my training for my first marathon, I took a very pure approach to energy snacks. I carried a water belt filled with “green” drinks – a barley powder which I believed would help oxygenate my blood. I stuffed orange wedges in a ‘fanny pack’, along with Celtic sea salt (for electrolyte balance) and a raw energy bar. It was a lot of extra stuff to carry and the water belt dug a whole in my skin from the constant friction … but, I never had an injury issue and always had enough energy to complete my workout – except for that one long run.
I did religiously complete my training for the marathon – I was a poster child in checking off all of my training boxes. The hard work of a marathon is the training. Come race day, it’s all fun. The effort race organizers take to organize and execute a marathon is huge. The NYC had 3 starting waves – the waves all joined together at about mile 6. As I crossed the start line, Frank Sinatra was blasting from the loud speakers …”If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere …. New York, New York!”
I guess what Frank sang was true … because I was able to “make” it and complete marathons in DC and Chicago, too. I am looking forward to “making” many more races in the future.
My “hat is off” to all of the Team Inheritance of Hope teammates now embarking on their training journey for the 2011 Marine Corps Marathon to be held October 30, 2011. The journey may be a challenge at times, but I’m sure it will be well worth every piece of pavement pounded when the jets and helicopters fly over the start line as 30,000 + runners begin their 26.2 mile journey on that Sunday morning.