I’m running a marathon on Sunday. Some time in the early hours of the morning, I’ll be joining 16,000 other people in a 26.2 mile race around the not-so-sexy city of Pittsburgh. For this, you can credit my dear friend whose name rhymes with Texas McVowel.
Under most normal pre-race circumstances, I’d be bursting at the seams with energy and competitive fire. I’d be tapered down, ready to explode, preaching my plans to finish in under three hours. And while I’m still all sorts of pumped this time around, things are a tad different.
For starters, I haven’t necessarily trained. Unlike my past three marathons, where I followed some semblance of a regimen and actually planned to compete months out, I jumped on this one with two week’s notice and have yet to run over ten miles straight in almost two year’s time. Joe Doctor would probably tell me I’m out of my mind. But that’s only half accurate. Yes, I understand there is an enormous difference between 26 and ten miles. Yes, I understand I’m more prone to injury. Yes, I understand Pittsburgh’s a shit hole.
I also understand that I wouldn’t be doing this if it were easy.
My confidence and enthusiasm are upheld by a few things. First is the weekly mileage I’ve managed to track over the last four to five months (30-40 miles per week), which is roughly equivalent to what I’d be doing if I was following a proper schedule. So while I may not be saving any uber long runs for weekends like I have in the past, I’m running mid to longer distances more consistently throughout the week and accumulating the same total across a training span as I otherwise would. My muscles still feel beat up during the week, so they’re at least moderately conditioned to pounding and pain.
More importantly, I know what I’m getting into and nothing, I mean nothing, trumps experience as an advantage in taking on a new task. I don’t care if it’s filing papers or throwing darts. In my case, I’ve successfully prepared for and completed three marathons of various types….crap weather, nice weather, small participant pool, large participant pool, hilly, flat, unlimited Gatorade at the end, unlimited Yeungling at the end. In fact, for the last one I finished in October 2008, I was convinced a week out that I had over-trained, an idea I would have never thought possible when I started running four years ago. All of this is to say I feel good about tackling Sunday’s race under the circumstances, even if it means not going for a PR. Frankly, that’s the tough part.
It’ll be nice to get back out there and see where I stand after an absence from the race circuit. It won’t be ideal going out less competitively than in times past, but after a crushing back out of Boston last year due to injury, I’ve learned to be thankful for the opportunity to run in and of itself. Well, that and coffee. I can’t wait to have my first cup of joe again.