The Last Long Run

It’s done! My last long run before the Chicago Marathon is in the books.

I should have had 8 miles on my schedule today, according to my Hal Higdon Novice 2 plan. But due to my lack of running over the last 6 weeks or so, I decided to go for 12-13 miles. Mentally, I thought it would help me to know I can make it to 13 miles with no problem, so when I’m running the marathon, I can enjoy the first 13 miles without worrying about how my knees and hips will feel along the way. I’m hoping that will leave lots of mental power for the last half of the race, which will probably be tough physically & mentally for me, due to taking so much time off running.

Last night, I was looking forward to only one thing about my long run today: Getting it over with. In fact, I started to write a post last night about how much I was not looking forward to my last long run, and how much I wanted it to be done.

Then I felt like a whiney bitch, and gave myself a little reality check.

Uh, hello? Weren’t you just injured for the last 6 weeks and wishing you could run almost every one of those days you had to take off? Weren’t you worried about not getting those long runs in, and whether or not you could run the marathon? Weren’t you wishing you could wake up early on Saturday morning to meet up with your running club friends for a jog along Lake Michigan, with the sun rising over the water?

Yes, you were. So suck it up, Amanda.

In my defense, I’d imagine this is a common feeling among runners who are entering their taper for a marathon. The training requires so much sacrifice: Time, energy, even sometimes pain, as I’ve learned. Maybe it’s natural to put so much effort and determination into something, that it sucks everything within you dry to the point that you’re excited, but ready, to finally reach, and freakin’ complete, your goal.

And that’s how I feel: Simply ready to be at that starting line, running along the streets of Chicago, and then crossing over that finish line… Hopefully still smiling.

But first, I had a 13-mile run to tackle today. I didn’t really eat enough for dinner last night, and I didn’t hydrate well yesterday like I normally would, either. Maybe I’ve just been out of my long runs for too long, but I woke up this morning SO tired, and worrying about whether or not I had set myself up for success.

It was still quite dark out when my alarm started squawking at me, and I didn’t sleep well, so I was reallllly tired. Like, I-only-got-four-hours-of-sleep tired. For a minute, I debated just not getting up—maybe I’d run later… But I knew there was a crappy rainy day in the forecast, so I dragged myself outta bed.

When I got to my starting point, I thankfully spotted my long-lost marathon training buddy, Liz! I was glad to have someone to start my run with, because it was a little creepy looking outside with the sun still half-sunken and the fog blanketing the town:

Foggy morning running

Plus, she made my smile and remember that running is a good thing that I like to do. 🙂

The run started out slow, maybe because of the literal 99% humidity. Hey, I’m just glad we’re not getting forecasts like this…

winter storm Atlas

SNOW?!

I mean, seriously. I am so not ready for snow.

I took my first couple of miles very easy and made sure to stretch well. I felt pretty sluggish, but tried to push any negative thoughts away. At mile 4, members of the running club, who started at a more normal time of 7:30am, began to pass me. Saying hi and exchanging a few quick words took my mind off my worries and energized me. I ran into Liz again (who had gone ahead of me due to my walking breaks) and we were able to log about a mile together until I had to continue on alone once more.

I still felt decent as I approached 10 miles, though not as good as I had last week. The last few miles were a little challenging—mostly, they just felt long because I was alone for them, and tired.

I did feel strong, especially at the end of the run, but my legs just aren’t used to the pounding miles of pavement. After mile 10, my legs were very achy from the ankles up. It makes me worry about how achy I will feel for 26 miles, but I guess I’ll just have to deal with it, and maybe throw in a little extra walking if my body asks for it.

I got to my starting point a tad short of 13 miles, but I called it a day, because at this point, three-tenths of a mile isn’t going to make or break my race!

And thus, the final long run for Chicago Marathon is complete:

long run splits for chicago marathon

long run splits

Now, I start the real “taper” for my training. This week I will only have three runs, which are one 3-miler and two 2-mile runs. I’m not sure if I’ll know what to do with myself?!

Rest, eat well, hydrate, think positive, and enjoy the extra free time… That’s my plan. 🙂

Any tips on what to do (or what NOT to do) the week before a marathon? What’s your favorite pre-race meal? Do you carb-load?

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