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I’m inside of 48 hours.

I slept like a baby last night.

The only thing on my mind right now is whether or not I should have one piece of cake or two during today’s Halloween party. 

Shouldn’t I be thinking more about that marathon?  Shouldn’t I be a little nervous?  On this morning’s run, I didn’t think about Sunday.  I thought about cleaning the bathroom before my parents come to town tomorrow.  Even the weather forecast for the day isn’t bothering me. 

My weather alert just went off. The alert was for Saturday , but it lead me to look at the updated forecast for Sunday.The Sunday forecast

Looks like the temps will be about what I expected – mid 40s, but the wind is something new –> sustained winds from the west @ 20mph which will bring the feel of the temperature down to the mid 30s. We’ll have some gusts around 40mph. Not necessarily ideal conditions, but it could be a lot worse.

We’ll have to deal with the wind during the middle part of the course. From miles 5-15 we’ll be running into it. Once we hit 15, there are a good amount of trees to provide some coverage. The wind should be @ our backs (but off the water) for miles 22 – 25.

In comparison, the forecast for tomorrow is for not only heavy winds, but torrential rain and thunderstorms, too. When offered that as an alternative, I won’t complain too much about dealing with some wind.

It feels so good to be inside of the last week. 

I woke up this morning knowing that this is it – years of running, months of training and weeks of anxiety are finally coming together this weekend.  I can’t wait for Sunday. 

The feeling that I have right now is exactly like the one I have on an out and back run.  As soon as I hit the turnaround, the rest of the run becomes effortless.  I know that each step is bringing me closer to my goal.  This week, I know that each day is the last one before Sunday.  After today, there will be no more Mondays.  The next Monday on the calendar is officially the day after my first marathon.  That is a great feeling.

Kevin’s advice to me yesterday —> act like a pregnant woman.

We’re both assuming that means to take it easy and rest for the next week – the last week before our first marathons.  Then again, I’ve been at Michelle’s side for three pregnancies.  This advice could mean:

  • eat everything in sight
  • toss and turn all night long when I should be sleeping
  • get emotional for no particular reason
  • complain about every ache and pain
  • look forward to the “big day” with alternating fear and excitement

For today, instead of running I’ll spend the day nesting – cleaning out the basement and picking up the yard.  Tomorrow, I’m meeting Rick for a 10-mile run through Osterville … then the real countdown starts (one week from tomorrow!!!)

The past couple of days have been tough.

The enjoyment of my morning runs has been declining.

It’s harder to get out of bed in the morning. It’s dark and cold outside. We put the flannel sheets on the bed this weekend so I’m perfectly comfortable when then alarm goes off at 4am. It’s too easy to roll over and fall back asleep – something I’ve done the past two mornings.

I’m past the “getting better” phase of my training. I’ve entered the “don’t screw up” phase and it’s a struggle to put on my shoes to go for a run.

Even now, I should be stretching for an easy 5-miler, but I’m waiting a few more minutes for the rain to stop. A month ago, I’d already be 15 minutes into the run and loving it.

Self doubt
My run yesterday was filled with thoughts of “if I was on mile 21 right now, how would I feel?” I couldn’t shake the nagging doubts that I wouldn’t be up to the challenge. I know that it’s all mental at this point.

Physically, I can do this. All of my miles are in the bank. I’ve had long runs of 18, 20, 21 and 23. I’ve put in the speed work. I’ve averaged 45 miles/week for the past 3 months. My legs are as strong as they’ve ever been. I received a clean bill of health from the doctor yesterday.

I can do this

Courtesy of Coach Paul, I have my running schedule for the next two weeks. These are the last two weeks before the marathon and all I’m worried about is staying healthy and thinking happy thoughts.

Here’s Paul’s recommendation (I’ll probably be on the lower ranges):

*************************************************************
For week after half marathon:
Monday –> rest
Tuesday –> 6-8 miles easy
Wednesday –> 5-7 miles very easy
Thursday –> 10 miles, last 5mi at Marathon Pace if feeling good
Friday –> rest
Saturday –> 45-60 minutes of slow running
Sunday –> long run (90-100mins), last 30min at Marathon pace if all is well

For final week:
Monday –> rest
Tuesday –> 8-10mi as follows: 3-4mi easy, 3-4mi MP, 1mi half marathon pace, 1mi easy
Wednesday –> 5mi easy
Thursday –> 5mi, last 2mi at MP – no faster
Friday –> rest
Saturday –> 20mins easy
Sunday –> Race
*************************************************************

As luck would have it, we start off w/ a rest day today.  I LOVE rest days.

In March 1993, sitting in the passenger seat of Michelle’s Pontiac Grand Prix, I left my parents house in Connecticut for a job in upstate New York. 

That was the day that I stopped calling Connecticut home.  From that moment on, home was wherever Michelle and I were.  Whether our address was in New York (Syracuse, Kingston, Cohoes, or Schenectady) or Massachusetts  (Randolph or Cotuit), Hartford was the place that we visited my parents, it wasn’t “home.”

That changed yesterday. Running through Bushnell Park, I felt like I was home.  Maybe it’s because I was with friends from Mashpee, or maybe the fall weather put me in a great mood, but as we ran through Hartford and East Hartford, I felt connected.  I felt like I was running in my hometown race, and it felt good.

Each milestone that we ran past brought back memories (well, except for miles 10-12 .. that just sucked).  There wasn’t a pattern to the memories. They were completely random.  From parking across the street from the old Civic Pub (@ least where it used to be) to running past streets that I used to clean from the back of the garbage truck during the summer of 89, I was constantly reminded that Connecticut was my home for 23 years.

As far as the race itself, it was the best time I’ve ever had in an organized race.  Kevin, Colleen and I ran side by side for the first 7 miles.  That first hour (62:53 to be exact) was effortless.  We were laughing and talking.  I was pointing out some of the landmarks from my younger years. I felt like I could have run like that forever.

One of the highlights from the first hour was seeing Aunt Mary @ the water stop on Pitkin Street.  She was working, handing out water to the runners, but took time away to run 200 yards with me.  It was great and completely pumped me up for the next 2 miles of running.

After that, things started to get a little bad.  Around mile 8, I went ahead of Colleen and Kevin.  I wanted to test how it would feel to run alone.  I think that I’ll be doing a lot of solitary running on October 29, and I wanted to see how I could handle it. 

I feel like I failed the test.  Miles 10-12 were through parts of Hartford that I had never been to, and probably couldn’t find again with a map.  I was running at about an 8:45 pace.  I wasn’t tired, but I was getting weary.  I was trying to put myself into a marathon frame of mind.  How would I feel if this was the marathon?  Would I be able to make it?  The answers to those questions were not positive.  I started to get down on myself.  I started to wonder what I was doing and questioned how could I ever hope to finish the full 26.2. 

It didn’t help that this section of the run was through a more industrial part of the city – nothing like the tree-lined, familiar sites of the first 7 miles.  It also didn’t help that a part of the course was a grueling out and back.  Why do races do that?  Run one mile north, turn at the cone and run one mile south …  does anyone like this type of race course?

One highlight to this section – I saw Kevin and Colleen again.  They were about 30 seconds behind me.  I made a note to stop at the next water stop and let them catch up so that we could finish together.  My little experiment of alone time had gone on for long enough and I needed the companionship again. 

Unfortunately, we never hooked back up.  I slowed down through the final mile, and kept on looking over my shoulder, but never saw them.

I crossed the finish line in 1:55:21.  I ran the last 1.1 miles in about 8:40 and felt great.  I didn’t feel “let’s do another 13.1″ great.  I’d call it more of a “I can still see straight and don’t feel like puking on my shoes” great.  After some of my past races, that’s good enough for me.

My plan was to grab a water and wait for Colleen and Kevin to finish so we could get some food.  I almost fell over when I looked up and saw that they had finished ahead of me and were already wrapped in space blankets.

My first thought was they must have gotten picked up by a cab, or took a shortcut through the park.  Nope – they had passed me when I was getting water at mile 12.  They called out to me, but I never heard them.  While I was looking back over my shoulder  for them they were blazing a trail to the finish line.

I felt more than a little foolish.  In my head, I had already worked out my “you guys did great! (but I did better)” speech.  Now, I felt like a slacker.  It was a humbling experience.

That one minor blow to my ego didn’t overshadow what a perfect day it was.  Hartford did a great job putting on this event.  I think I’ll definitely be back next year.  Sadly, I won’t have a place to stay.  Ironically, on the day that I felt at home in Hartford, Mom and Dad are selling their house and moving to Houston.  Looks like I’ll be renting a room at the Marriott next October.

There’s a lot more that I have to say about yesterday, but we’re still in CT and three kids are looking for breakfast (and pulling @ my typing hands).

The Terrill’s kicked ass (as usual) and I was about 1 minute behind @ the end.

It was the perfect day for a run – 37 @ the start and around 50 @ the end.

There was no way that I could have run all 26.2 yesterday (mostly mental reasons), but this was the most relaxing race I’ve ever been a part of.

Lots more to write about when I get back home tonight.

The alarm knocked me out of a coma this morning. I didn’t know where I was, who I was, what I was doing, how I got here or where I was supposed to be going.

Then it all hit me like a truck – oh yeah, I’m in Farmington, CT to run a 13.1 mile race. Ugh … all I wanted to do was roll over, fall back asleep and forget that I’m a runner.

Fortunately (????), that feeling passed within a couple of minutes. I’m now sitting in my parents kitchen, drinking a cup of coffee wishing that I had packed warmer clothes for today’s race. It’s a chilly 33 outside right now. It’s supposed to be in the 50s by 8am, but something tells me I’ll be doing some shivering between now and then.

I don’t have any specific goals for today – just run and relax. I’d like to finish in under 2 hours, but I’m not running for time. This will be my first race since Falmouth in August. It’s my first 1/2 marathon since March 2005. My time in that one was 1:50:30 (an 8:26 pace). I don’t plan to go any faster than 8:40 today.

I’ll be leaving in about 30 minutes to meet Kevin and Colleen.  I should probably think about getting ready.

It arrived in the mail yesterday – my entry confirmation and number pick-up info.  I’ll be wearing number 137 as I slog my way through Falmouth on October 29.

This makes it all a little too real, and I don’t know how I feel about it this morning. 

I have a countdown control on my computer desktop.  It lets me know how many days, hours, minutes and seconds I have until the marathon starts.  At this moment, the countdown tells me that in 17 days, 2 hours, 57minutes and …. 48 seconds, I’ll be lining up near the Village Green in Falmouth waiting to run 26.2 miles.  Based on that, I have a pretty good feeling that in 16 days 22 hours, 57 minutes and 48 seconds I’ll be back near the Village Green crossing the finish line.  (I think that’s 4 hours. Math was never my favorite)

I set up this countdown control a few months ago as some extra motivation during training.  Honestly, I never thought that I needed the motivation, but I found the control on google and was looking for an excuse to use it.  It was either the marathon or Christmas.  Since I’m not 8 years old anymore, I thought having a Christmas countdown on my computer would be a little dorky.

The point is, I know that it’s October.  I know that in a couple of weeks I’ll be running this marathon.  I know that it will be a physical struggle and I will have my share of mental challenges along the way.

I suppose I wish that I was wearing number 7, 432 instead of number 137 while I was doing it.  Number 137 is for fast people.  Guys who wear number 137 are 5′9″ and weigh 140lbs.  They’re not 6′2″ 190 (ish). 

My other concern about #137 – that’s not a whole lot of other runners on the course (I think it will be a couple thousand total – including relay teams).  I knew that this would be a smaller field of runners, and I knew that I might be better off making my first marathon one of the “big” ones, but I wanted to stay on the Cape where I could train and my friends and family could come watch. 

Still, the reality that I’ll be wearing 137 …. OK … enough typing.  I need to get out for a run.