Sunday, October 23, 2011

Marathon Meh

Here's what I've learned this year -- I like off-road racing more than road racing. Give me an adventure race or a trail run any day. My marathon training has been mentally painful and physically slow. Why do laps around the block when you can bound up and down trails and rocks, you know?

Regardless, my final race of 2011 will be the Philadelphia Marathon. I hope to cross the finish line before Christmas.

Training has been a bit meh. I've been putting in the miles, mostly (if adventure racing counts as a long run) but I haven't been doing the speed work. I know I have the endurance to finish, barring something unforeseen, but I don't have the speed to do anything special on race day. And, honestly, nor do I have the desire.

My lack of motivation this training cycle has impressed me. Why go run for three hours on the road when you can bound around on a trail? When you can get your feet wet? When you can get your legs muddy? A 50k sounds less daunting to me right now than a road marathon (and, speaking of, will someone please do this with me?).

As I am running for the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House, though, it is only fair that I at least put forth some effort in training, even if I am not feeling particularly passionate about the race. There's neither chance nor desire to qualify for either Boston or a PR and I am struggling to latch onto a time goal that will keep me motivated on race day.

On the upside, yesterday's 20-miler with Abby (read her account of it here ... Personally, I plan to read it before every 20-mile run for inspiration) didn't suck at all. Not entirely sure why, but it didn't. Some guesses as to why it wasn't terrible:
  1.  It was early in the morning, at least for me. The shock of such an early wake-up call got me going a bit.
  2. There were a ton of other runners out. I commented to Abby no less than 10 times that I couldn't believe how many other runners there were. She was all "Welcome to the world of adults who get out of bed before noon and get their long runs in before dinner time" and I was all "Geeze, it's a whole different world out here before 3 p.m."
  3. The weather ruled. Thank you, Nature, for that gift.
  4. Nothing really hurt. A few pings in my right ankle toward the end but I woke up today feeling fresh.
  5. Company! Usually for long runs, Bill will go for a bike ride and we will meet for a few minutes at pre-determined points so he can give me fuel and water. This time, though, the conversation with Abby about everything from adventure racing (shocking) to future travel plans made the miles tick by quickly. I am still sort of convinced that her Garmin was off and we really only did about 5 miles, but if she insists we hit 20, then I guess we hit 20.
I did about 6 miles of recovery today along a flat path and felt fine. Legs were a bit heavy but nothing hurt or was sore and I had to make a concerted effort not to go hard so that was a bit uplifting.

The race is only 4 weeks away. Hopefully next weekend will bring at least 25 miles between an organized group 20-miler on Saturday, possibly an orienteering meet on Saturday night and another group run on Sunday. Toss in another 20 miles or so the following weekend and then it is taper time already.

Maybe this marathon thing isn't so terrible after all.


Kate said...

Trail stuff is soooo much more fun than road. I think the biggest thing that got me through marathon training last winter was doing most of my long runs on trails...and with friends. Good luck keeping your mojo for the next month!

Lia said...

AGREE! I ran a half marathon road race today after running trail half marathons all year long. It pretty much was a sucky experience. I thought I was going to kick ass, but I ran about 7 minutes slower than last year same race. I'm absolutely convinced it's due to the fact that there were no redwood trees, hills, river crossings, or views of the bay area.

Nobel4Lit said...

I did a couple of trail races this year and am actually looking forward to the boredom of the road... ha ha.

Mallory said...

I still need to try trail racing!!!

Anonymous said...

hmmm, let's see how I can phrase it so that I don't get lynched in this thread. "Trail running kind of sucks!" Or it might be just me that always stumbles on stuff and ends up with a sprained ankle.. What do you mean this was not subtle? :-P

I am sure you're going to do just fine and get back to crazy adventure races and mud pits :-)

Abby said...

Do you find that you always get more comments on road running posts than trail or adventure racing posts? I know I do!

Anonymous said...

It's pretty amazing to me how non-chalant you are about running a marathon. And then just casually whip out an awesome 20 mile run after not really training (or so you say...). You must be pretty good at this stuff.

Laurie said...

1) Kate, I agree. Marathons hurt too much.
2) Lia, scenery is helpful! I did a marathon once where 3 miles of it were laps around the parking lot of an industrial park. I wanted to weep.
3) Nobel4Lit, you are a braver and tougher soul than I am.
4) Mallory, yes you do. There's got to be some good trails not too far from you. If not, there are plenty just north of Philly. Could probably find one just about every weekend of the year, ranging from 5ks to 50ks and a few 50 milers.
5) Greek, I will still let you read my blog. I think :)
6) Abby, yes. Yes I do. And have you noticed that not too many people seem to do trail runs? Or at least not on many of hte blogs I read ...
7) Couch, I believe that the correct term is "lazy," not "non-chalant," but thanks for the sentiment!