Signing up for a January marathon always sounds like a great idea…until I have to muster the courage of doing a long run in late December.
Temps were mild-ish. High 20’s with light winds. Road conditions were acceptable, but far from ideal. There were some dry spots, but most of the road had a thin layer of snow. There were some icy areas so I had to constantly watch my footing. The skies were dreary and overcast (the only time we get mild conditions this time of year…). Motivation is a struggle for me. I don’t enjoy running in these conditions. I don’t like wearing layers. I am a fair weather runner, and I am overdue for my off-season.
I lace up and head out the door. No i-Pod today. I will need to pay attention to traffic and to what I am doing. It may turn out to be a VERY short run is the road conditions are worse then I estimate. I am running a 3 mile loop. Goal is to hit 21 miles (7 loops). I make the first tentative steps to the first cul-de-sac. Footing is ok so far. I will not risk injury so close to race day, but I think this will be acceptable. With that in mind, I forge ahead…
Part of me feels that I should have taken a break after my finish at Ironman Wisconsin. My training for that event left me physically and mentally drained and exhausted. But that was on September 7th. If I had hung up my running shoes until spring, I risked getting really out of shape by spring and may not start running again. I decided to build a full fall running season to keep me motivated. Twin Cities Loony Challenge (5k, 10k, 10 mile), Monster Dash HM, Route 66 Marathon (+ 5k and 1 mile fun run), Polar Dash Yeti Challenge (10k, 5k, 1500 meter), and the Houston Marathon (+ 5k). It was aggressive, but I knew I would need some motivation to keep me running deep into the season before allowing myself the luxury of an off-season.
The first lap is fine. I have mapped out the problem sections of the route and I elect to keep going. I am moving very slow. I never run well when I am wearing so many layers, and my caution is slowing me down as well. Today is about endurance, not speed. Six more laps to go.
I have looked at the long range forcast. Next weekend should have been my last long training run before I taper. But, it will be Christmas week, and it is also my year to work the holiday weekend…so I will be there on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The rest of the time will be with family. I don’t want to do a 4 hour run over Christmas. Also, the temperature will plummet. Yes, these are excuses, but I am ready for a break and I will go with a 4 week taper if I can get this long run completed.
Six laps completed. I am moving at a snails pace. It is 3:30 in the afternoon, and the gloom is deepening. I assume that the clouds are getting thicker, but then I realised that it is actually starting to get dark. It is pitch black by 4:30pm nowadays, and it will be getting pretty dark by the time I finish another 5k. It is already hard to see the icy areas on the road. I think about packing it in and call my 18 miles as “good enough”. But it wasn’t. I head out for one more lap.
Next weekend, I will run 10-12 miles I think. I will run outside if I can, or on the treadmill if I must. The following week will be the Polar Dash (the previously discussed 10k/5k/1500 meter race series) on New Years Day. That will count as my long run that week. It will also be my last outdoor winter run of the season. I will do a 10k on the treadmill, and several 5k treadmill runs heading into the race. The Houston Marathon is one of the 10 biggest marathons in the nation, and I am sure the energy there will fuel me on race day and beyond. It will get me hungry and restless as next spring approaches and I will be eager to get out on the road again when nature permits. I have a warm up event mid-March which will propel me towards my spring marathon in Pittsburgh in early May. After that, I have built a run-focused season for 2015.
It is truly getting dark as I pull into my driveway. Twenty-one miles completed. Time to taper into marathon weekend and a long overdue off-season. I will take 1-2 weeks of no activity and then exercise for health and fitness. Sure there will be treadmill time, but also elliptical, bike trainer, swimming and weight training. My body is uninjured but beat-up and sore. My ankles hurt all the time. I can now look forward to a final big event and the long overdue rest and recovery…