Not a Fluke – My new Best Marathon Ever – Missoula 2013

I feel incredibly lucky to live in a community that hosts a great marathon each year, and is also home to such an amazing and supportive running community.

This year, I started out the marathon running with several of my running buddies from class including my pace group leader from last year who has been in the training class for three years, but was injured for his first two. This year he made it all the way through to the finish line and I was honestly even more excited about that, than I was about finishing myself.

Early on in the race we were passed by Jeff Galloway, who is responsible for popularizing the Galloway run/walk/run method that enabled us to run the marathon.

Jeff Galloway, running past in his trash bag.

Jeff Galloway, running past in his trash bag.

It was actually pretty cool to see him go by and get a chance to see a little bit of his running form (what wasn’t obscured by the trash bag, anyway) in action. He takes really small, quick steps. It was also cool to see someone who has made what appears to be an amazing career out of traveling around the world, running marathons and helping other people achieve that goal, but isn’t too proud to don a trash bag at the start of a race and throw it off after warming up.

In the early part of the race I tried to take quite a few pictures. Last year I didn’t have a good camera with me, so I was determined to get some good photos for this blog this year. The biggest problem with that is that I’m not actually a very good photographer. But here you go anyway.

This is where I get to live and run. Jealous?

This is where I get to live and run. Jealous?

Somewhere during the first few miles of the race, we were joined by four other Galloway runners from other states. Two were 50 Staters and two were Marathon Maniacs. It was really great to chat with them and hear their stories. I’ve been saying often lately that if anybody had ever told me that marathons could be a social experience, I wouldn’t have believed them. But they can be, at least for us slow runners. We get to meet awesome people from around the country and around the world. Joining groups like the Maniacs, the 50 Staters and even just the family of Galloway runners can make it even more social by giving you something in common to bond over. We even passed Negative Ned, who you may remember from last year. I recognized him as we went by and was really glad to see that he’d already latched on to someone else. I hope he had something positive to talk about with that person.

horseback

Not even the first people we saw on horseback.

I really love this race and the race course. It’s beautiful and fun. I don’t know much about other marathons yet, as I haven’t run any others. I might be wrong in assuming that not many other races have people sitting on horseback cheering the runners on.

The best cloud that ever clouded.

The best cloud that ever clouded.

Our race day weather was really wonderful. The morning started with cool temps in the low 50s and warmed up slowly. I actually wore a fleece vest for the first couple of miles and some of my buddies wore “throw away clothes” as well. Later in the morning as we climbed the hill at Big Flat Road, we were gifted with a large, fluffy cloud. It kept the sun off of us during a part of the race that can be quite warm for the runners. I loved that cloud so much that I had to take a picture of it. That could is my favorite cloud of all time.

motivationalsign

The most straight forward sign.

Also on that same stretch of road, we came across this sign, which made me laugh out loud. Perhaps it was the fantastic weather, or having so much great company, or the fact that I felt more confident about my ability to run a marathon this year, but I had a truly great time. I usually enjoy races, but this one stands out. Through the whole race I just felt so lucky to live and run in such a beautiful place with so many supportive, wonderful people. Even when I started to feel my aches and pains, my happiness didn’t diminish.

Do other marathons have people playing a piano on a lawn? Ours does. It’s pretty cool.

piano

Beautiful music for a beautiful day.

Not long after this I apparently stopped taking pictures. I suppose I was a bit too focused on other things at that point. It’s a shame, really, because we ran through some really beautiful parts of town.

Somewhere around miles 18 to 20 our group started to break apart. Some of us needed to slow down. Slowly, over the next few miles our group thinned out more and more until there was just one other runner, Jody, with me. Jody and I chatted and kept each other going. We pointed each other to nearly every sprikler we went past. One woman on Beckwith was standing with her spray hose and she hosed down our backs for us. That was glorious!

Park2

Running through the Loop of Sadness. I look so sad, don’t I?

As we trucked along toward the “Loop of Sadness” we passed more and more runners and run/walkers who had slowed way down or were walking. We shared cheers and encouragement but Jody and I were not prepared to slow down. We pushed on, winding through miles 22, 23 and 24. Other than some minor issues, I was feeling good and strong.

Looking back through my official pictures, I was sad to discover that somewhere along the line my shirt got stuck up under my race belt, so my belly is hanging out in all my photos. At first I wasn’t going to share them because of that. Then I thought, “Screw it. So my belly was hanging out. I was running a marathon for frak’s sake! I look happy and that’s what is important.” So here you get to see a pic of me during the “Loop of Sadness” complete with belly flesh.

As is my tradition, if you can call something a tradition when you’ve only done it during two races and two training runs, we turned off our timers as we approached the intersection of Gerald and 4th and took an extended walk break. Then came the bridge and our “sprint” to the finish. Coming up to the top of the bridge and seeing the finish line at the end was even a little more emotional this year than last. Last year I was excited to finish for the first time and achieve a goal I hadn’t even conceived of just one year earlier. This year I was excited to be finishing just a little faster, and also to be proving to myself that this isn’t a fluke. This distance running thing is a part of my life now. I have no plans of stopping.

My final time was 5:45:34 which is just a touch faster than last year’s 5:58:09. I’m pleased.

bridgethumb

Running across the bridge, giving the thumbs up to whomever called my name. I was pretty out of it.

One interesting difference between this year and last year is the absolute lack of “post race blues”. Last year I had a very rough time after the race and I was very glad for the reminder our class leader sent out about the blues being perfectly normal. I do have a lot more plans and goals this year than I this time last year. In fact, I’m not sure how I’m going to accomplish everything I want to do. I’ll just have to put one foot in front of the other and take it one step at a time, I suppose.

It’s only 356 days until the next Missoula Marathon. I don’t see any reason not to run it!

Keep running happy!

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One Month to Go!

The marathon is in a month.

The marathon is in a month!

I think I’m ready.

I ran my 27 miler on June 2nd and it was actually a really fantastic run. As soon as I got out onto the street that morning on my way to class, I knew it was going to be a great day. It was overcast and cool, but not cold. My preparation had paid off and I was feeling rested and energetic.

I opted to run with my pace group leader from last year using a 20s/40s split. We both had good reason to run a slow, conservative training run, so pairing up worked out really well for us. It was fantastic to get to run with him, since I haven’t had the chance much this year. We had a great time talking and laughing and catching up.

In some respects, though, the best moment of the run for me was when we got back to the Runner’s Edge. I had run 25 miles and had two more to go for my goal. I stopped and visited for a few minutes with the lovely people who had finished their runs or were waiting for others to finish. I grabbed an orange slice and a delicious chocolate coconut square and realized that I absolutely had 2 more miles worth of energy left in me. That was a really glorious realization to have. I felt strong, energetic and happy, so I filled up my water bottle and bid my friends farewell.

I took off towards home feeling pretty pleased with myself. After about 1/4 of a mile I even decided to switch my timer back to 30s/30s. My last two miles was more quiet and contemplative, but still fantastic.

When I got home I started into “recovery mode” right away. I scarfed down a chocolate yogurt and put my legs up the wall. Once my legs felt ready to go, I made myself a big bowl of gluten free pasta and enjoyed some well deserved (I thought) butt-time in front of the television.

The following day I was mildly stiff but not bad at all, and by Tuesday I was pretty much back to normal.

This week we’re still in recovery mode. Our class has a 6 mile run scheduled for Sunday, so I may go as far as 10. Then I start gearing up for my 30 miler, which will be on June 23rd and is our last long run before the marathon. I’m going to prep for it exactly the same way as I prepped for the 27, which I describe here except for one thing I left out. I read in Runner’s World a while back about the anti-inflammation properties of blueberries, so I’ve been trying to incorporate blueberries into at least one meal every day before a long run. I can’t be certain, but I really do think I’m feeling a benefit from it in terms of less soreness and quicker recovery.

And for the record, I am still loving my new shoes.

I’ve got more to blog about in the hopefully near future, so check back.

In the mean time, keep running happy!

Running to Finish vs. a Time Goal, Which is Right for You?

This post is a part of my series, Tips for New Runners. It is based entirely on my own experiences as a new runner and may be missing a lot of information. This series is intended to help my readers find what works for them by sharing what worked or didn’t work for me.

During the Galloway Marathon Training class that I took, we got some very different advice on the “time goal.” Jeff Galloway is adamant that a first time marathoner should run to finish. Our class leaders also adhered to this approach. Several of our expert guest speakers, however, disagreed.

Ultimately you have to decide for yourself whether a time goal is right for you for your first race or any race you run. Some runners and run/walkers find that they gain motivation from the time goal. They are competing against others, or perhaps just against themselves and their own limits. Having a goal keeps them on track in their training and pushes them onward during the race. On the other hand, pushing yourself too much can make you more likely to become injured. So in that regard, it depends on your priority. How important is it to you to make it through your training and finish the race healthy enough to continue running afterwards, vs. how important is it that you run your race in a certain amount of time? Only you can make that determination.

I am not a competitive runner at all. I didn’t even start run/walking until age 37. I’m not fast and I don’t anticipate being fast enough to even win my age group any time soon, if ever. What I do want is to keep run/walking for the rest of my life. So for me, avoiding injury is much more important than any time goal.

In fact, I find that trying to have a time goal causes me stress. Toward the end of our marathon training class a particularly persuasive guest speaker told us how important it was to have a time goal in order to stay motivated during the race. Since I was completely inexperienced at running races, I took her advice to heart and tried to set a time goal for myself based on Jeff Galloway’s Magic Mile prediction formula. Whenever I looked at the difference between my suggested training pace (13:46) and race pace (11:46) it started to freak me out. I couldn’t figure out how I was supposed to run 26.2 miles 2 minutes faster per mile than I was used to. Other runners advised me that races are different and I’d get a boost from the adrenaline and race energy and go faster without even realizing it, but I had my doubts. I actually found myself having bad dreams about it.

As the day of the race approached, much was made about how hot it would be that day, and how we needed to slow down to protect ourselves from the heat. I think that all the concern about the heat saved me from a lot of stress. As I once again let go of the idea of having a time goal, not really knowing what to expect from the heat, I suddenly felt much better about race day. My attitude turned from dread back to excitement.

The morning of the race, my pace group buddies and I chatted about what we wanted and agreed to run a conservative race and focus on having a good time. I am so pleased with that decision. We ended up running  very close to my training pace and the truth is, I had a great race that I will always be able to look back on with pride. It doesn’t matter to me that my finish time is just barely under six hours. What is important to me is that I finished a marathon and I had a great time doing it. It makes me want to run the marathon again next year. If I’d tried to speed it up 2 minutes per mile I probably would have had a very different race, and I suspect that I wouldn’t have come across the finish line as excited and happy as I did. I know myself well enough to know that if I’d hurt myself in the process, it might have discouraged me from running at all after that.

So when you are deciding whether or not to have a time goal, consider what is best for you. Will you be motivated by it? Will it help you get stronger and faster and be a positive force in your training? Or, will it cause you unnecessary stress and take your focus away from finishing and having fun? Your friends, other runners, teachers and experts can tell you what they think, but they can’t see inside your head and know what is best for you. Just do be careful about choosing your time goals at first. Make sure you’re not setting yourself up for disappointment. Be conservative. It’s probably better to set a conservative goal and meet or surpass it. At least, that’s what I think.

Happy Running!

Best Marathon I’ve Ever Run, Part Two!

Continued from my previous post, Best Marathon I’ve Ever Run, Part One!

As the marathon course wound towards Big Flat Road, the scenery became more and more beautiful. The only other time I’d run that portion of the course was our miserably cold, wet training run, during which I’d had much more pressing concerns than the scenery.

By the time we turned onto Kona Ranch Road we were being passed by runners at very regular intervals. I found it increasingly enjoyable to cheer them on as they passed. A few ran on without seeming to hear us. Some folks are very focused that way. But most of them returned the cheers and encouragement. My pace group buddies and I found ourselves noticing their shoes, their form and sometimes their awesome outfits. We also noticed a few people who didn’t seem to be dressed for the weather, wearing long running tights or track pants. Hopefully they were fast enough to get through ahead of the heat.

As we started up the marathon’s one significant hill, we were mentally ready to tackle it. We knew that it was a deceptive hill that starts gently, goes up and flattens out for a while, and then provides a much steeper, but fairly short climb to the actual crest, before coming back down. I can’t speak for my pace group buddies, but the honest truth is, I was having so much fun chatting and cheering that I hardly noticed the hill.

Prior to the race I had compared my projected race time to that of a friend from the traditional running class and anticipated that he would pass me somewhere on the downward slope of the mountain. However, it turns out that he was going a bit faster than usual and passed me not long after we started up the hill. It was great to see him and chat for a second before watching him charge on up and out of sight.

As we moved along up the hill we saw quite a few spectators, including a gentleman on a horse dressed in full cowboy gear, and a wonderful woman playing her drum for us. This was also the time when we began to experience the heat, finally. Something happened that I hadn’t known to expect, though. All along the course, people put out their sprinklers for us. Some folks even stood along the course, holding their spray nozzles out, offering to wet us down as we passed.

After we came down the hill and joined up with the half marathon course, more and more spectators came out to cheer us on and more sprinklers appeared in our path. Some folks even set out coolers full of ice! How amazing is that?  I had no idea that people along the course were so interested and kind. One lovely gentleman even sat playing a grand piano for us as we ran past!

Slowly we wound our way along the course and into town, running through sprinklers, cheering on runners and playing a kind of leapfrog with other run/walkers. When it comes right down to it, I probably could have picked up the pace and run a touch faster, but I was having a great time and feeling good at the pace I was going, so I’m actually glad I didn’t push it. By the time I was over the hill I’d finished two of my honey waters, so I made myself a fourth at a convenient aid station, topped off my plain water, and forged on.

Going through the tunnel under Reserve St, right around mile 20, was a mentally significant milestone to me. At that point I felt that I was “in town” and the end was near. The course through town winds quite a bit, but there were plenty of sprinklers and more than a few spectators to cheer us on. We plugged on, cheering on the other runners & run/walkers and enjoying every sprinkler we ran through.

Around mile 23, the crowd really started to thicken. This is also where the Cafe Dolce aid station is. In addition to water and sports drink, there were orange slices and gummy bears! Honestly, little things like this make me love this town.

After Cafe Dolce we started towards Bonner Park and the spot I call the Loop of Sadness. My sense of humor is such that making silly, dramatic names for things actually helps me stay positive about them, just to be clear. As we approached Bonner Park we passed another set of drummers, more sprinklers and even more people standing with their spray hoses out, happily spraying down anyone who wanted it. Bonner Park itself had quite a positive, party atmosphere, which almost made up for having to turn south, away from the finish line, to South Avenue, before finally turning onto the “home stretch” for the last (roughly) 3 miles.

I started to get really excited at this point, but I kept my pace slow and easy. I didn’t want to push myself too hard and putter out this close to the finish! I also wanted to stay with my pace group buddies. We’d come this far together after all.

I think I kept my composure pretty well, but my mind was racing on ahead, visualizing all the turns we had left and thinking about the bridge and the finish line. I am so glad we chose to run the full course on our 26 mile training run. Thanks to that run, I didn’t have any moments of disappointment that came from thinking I was closer to the finish than I actually was.

On we went, winding through those last few miles, through a part of town that is very familiar to me. The final aid station was on Gerald St. at Hellgate High School, which I graduated from 20 years ago. As we passed, I had a momentary connection with memories of my younger self. That girl never would have imagined running a marathon. It never would have occurred to her that it was something within her ability to do. I’m thrilled to have proven her wrong.

As we crossed 5th street we decided to take an extended walk break and prepare for our run across the bridge. I think a lot of run/walkers felt strongly about making sure they would run across that bridge and across the finish line. We turned off our timers and rounded the corner onto Fourth St. at a comfortable walking pace.

As we came to our final turn onto the bridge the volunteer stationed there informed us that we had 2 or 3 minutes to make it in under the 6 (he said 5, but was assuming we started at 6am) hour mark. That was all I needed to hear. I came around that corner and took off. I have no idea how many of the cheers of, “Yeah! Way to finish strong!” were meant for me, but I felt strong and happy and excited as I ran across that bridge and toward the big, blue arch at the finish. I did hear one friend call out my name, and hopefully I managed to acknowledge her adequately, but to be honest I was focused on that blue arch.

I ran across that pad as fast as my little legs were willing to carry me at that point, and slowed to a stop in front of a happy volunteer who put a medal around my neck. The next person I saw was none other than our super hero of a pace group leader, Kevin! He gave me a big hug and congratulations and took my timing chip off my shoe.

After that I wandered, in a bit of a daze until I found my pace group buddies and some other classmates and class leaders. Then I heard my name again, and my friend who had cheered me on earlier called me over to the fence for hugs, congratulations and chocolate milk! Best. Chocolate milk. EVAR.

There are more details and stories in my head that I’d like to share with you, but I think they’ll keep for now. My chip time was 5 hours, 58 minutes and 9 seconds. That’s a pretty darned slow time, but considering that it was not just my first marathon but my very first race, I’m perfectly happy with it. Besides, what I wanted more than anything was to have fun and finish healthy and strong, and I succeeded at that! I achieved my goal and I’m more than a little proud of myself.

Here I am, about to cross the finish line. I really was that excited.

 

I have no intention of stopping at this point, either. I’m going to keep running half marathons and marathons, though I’m likely to stick to the ones close to home for now. Maybe I’ll get faster. Maybe I won’t. As long as I keep having fun, I’m going to keep right on running before I walk.

Best Marathon I’ve Ever Run, Part One!

It was my first marathon, so that title might only be funny to me. But it was actually a great experience. Saturday night I went to bed as early as I could make myself. I set two alarms for 3:00am and read for a bit in an attempt to calm my mind and fell asleep around 9:30pm. I did not sleep soundly, though. My mind was too active. I was nervous and excited and a bit concerned about the heat. At about 2:30am I gave up trying to sleep and got up. I fussed around for a while, ate my breakfast of two eggs and a banana with peanut butter on it and headed out the door a few minutes later than I meant to.

I arrived at the shuttle buses right on time, thankfully, and hopped right on the lead bus in the line for the full marathon and off we went. I wasn’t with anyone I knew so I listened to the commentary around me. It was really nice to hear the people from out of town express their appreciation for Missoula and for the marathon organizers. Many of them were experiencing our area for the first time so I heard a lot of comments about how gorgeous it is here. I was really excited for them to get out on the course and see how gorgeous most of it is.

We arrived at the starting area and a volunteer hopped onto our bus to give us a rundown of helpful information. Once we all piled off the bus we were greeted by more volunteers, music and an announcer giving us more instruction. The atmosphere was very festive. Having never run a race before, I was mentally prepared for some confusion but honestly, things were so well laid out and organized that I had no trouble at all.

While wandering around the starting area, I came across one of the ladies from my Galloway class pace group. While we were chatting and asking each other if we’d seen any other classmates, an older gentleman (in his 60s maybe?) gave us quite a chuckle when he began to sing along with the song playing over the PA while he rushed frantically about. The song was “Call me Maybe.” After I put my gear bag away, got myself situated and used one of the many porta-potties, we got into the chute together with another lady from our pace group (yay!) and waited for the race to begin.

I was a little bit shocked when the fireworks started to go off, as we charged over the mat and out of the chute. Nobody had told me about that. But it was really cool and it was the first of many things that day that made me feel a little bit emotional.

The group starting at 5:00am was technically the walkers group, with a 6:00am start for runners. But as we started on our journey it was very clear that many of the people in our group were run/walkers (not necessarily Galloway style) and shufflers.

The night before the marathon, our class had been invited to a special pep-talk with Jeff Galloway. In addition to encouraging us and building us up, he cautioned us about the heat. Particularly, he advised us not to push harder in the beginning, even though it might seem like the thing to do, to get out in front of the heat. He strongly recommended starting out at a slow, easy pace and conserving our resources for the latter portion of the marathon when we would need them most. Given this advice, the three of us decided to use our training interval of 30 seconds running and 45 seconds walking.

Along the way we got to watch the sun rise over the mountains in the east and it was gorgeous. Before long, we started to pass a few folks out to cheer on their family members as well as the rest of us. In particular I was struck by a mom and her toddler son, waiting for someone special to run by. The little boy was adorable and had a little cowbell that he clearly loved ringing. I’m also fairly sure that the person they were cheering on was behind us or not very far in front of us for the first 2/3 of the race, as we saw them again a few times along the course.

We heard the fireworks go off again when we were a couple of miles down the road and checked our watches in confusion. It was only 5:30. I wasn’t sure how long it would take the runners to start overtaking us after their 6:00am start, but I was actually pretty excited about it.

Along the way, we chatted with the walkers and run/walkers that we passed or were passed by. That is, until Negative Ned (not his real name) came along. At our pep-talk the night before, Jeff had mentioned that some people approach marathons with a positive attitude and other folks are negative and whine. I’m not sure he had anybody like Negative Ned in mind, but it felt a bit like a prophecy coming true. See, Negative Ned is a run/walker as well and has been for quite some time. But he disagrees very strongly with Mr. Galloway’s approach and was happy to tell us all about how wrong Mr. Galloway is and why.

Now, I believe I have a healthy amount of skepticism and I don’t take every word Jeff Galloway says as gospel or anything like that. But here we are, three ladies who are really only able to participate in this marathon because of the Galloway method and Ned wants to tell us all about how it’s wrong? It was quite negative and unwelcome, but we were polite and nice and tried to chat with him in spite of our frustrations. But he just kept right on explaining and it didn’t seem like he would be open to changing the subject any time soon. So when Ned stopped off to make a pit stop at an aid station, we sped up in the hopes of gaining enough distance that he wouldn’t find us in the crowd, and began to joke and laugh and regain our positive attitudes.

It will be no surprise to anyone who knows me to learn that I drastically over-prepared for my nutritional needs during the marathon. My belt holds 4 water bottles. I filled one bottle with plain water and into the other three I mixed two gels each. I also packed 5 extra gels and 5 packs of gummies, in addition to my sunscreen, phone, blister tape and leatherman micra. This is especially hilarious considering that there were aid stations with water and sports drink about every two miles along the course. I’m just one of those people who would much rather have a bunch of things I don’t need than to be missing one thing I do need. But in my defense, I was concerned with the heat and how I was going to deal with it.

I began taking in nutrition early in the race, switching between gummies and honey-waters, with some plain water thrown in for good measure. At each of the many aid stations we came to, we were offered sports drink and plain water by a host of helpful, happy volunteers. After a while, I began taking the water, even if I didn’t strictly need it, out of a desire to keep from disappointing too many volunteers.

Somewhere between 6 and 8 miles into the race, the lead runner overtook us. Keep in mind that he also started an hour later. As he passed, we cheered him on. He went on to win the marathon with a time of 2:32:39. That just blows me away. Not too long after him, the ladies leader passed us as well. She went on to set a ladies course record of 2:57:44. Compared to my 5:58:09, that is smoking fast! And it seems funny, in a way, but it was exciting to be passed by the lead runners. I think starting at 5:00am was a great choice. I got to see both of the lead runners as well as lots of other runners, including friends. Granted, they were passing me, but that’s okay. I wasn’t in the race to achieve any sort of competitive time. I was in it to have fun doing something that most people never do, and I did.

I have much more to say about my fantastic marathon experience, but this blog post is getting quite long and it’s late. Come back soon for the rest of the Tale of the Nerd Girl Who Ran the Marathon!

 

One More Day, a Heat Related Update

The race is tomorrow and I’m pretty nervous, but that is to be expected. Thanks to the Galloway training class I took through Run Wild Missoula, I know for a fact that I can go the distance because I already have. It’s just the heat that worries me.

Due to a rise in temperatures, any loose time goal I may have had is going right out the window. My only goal now is to finish healthy and happy. I’m really glad I signed up for the 5am start!  Our forecast is calling for an overnight low tonight of 57 F (13.88 C) and a high of 97 F (36 C) tomorrow. For some folks those aren’t terribly intense temperatures, but this has been a cool, wet spring & early summer for us, so I am not acclimated.

In a message we received from Jeff Galloway yesterday, he recommends reducing pace by 30 seconds per mile for every 5 degree increase above 60F. Based on my observations over the last few days, I rather expect that the temp will hit 65 around 8:00am, so I should have about 3 hours before I have to slow down.

I am also adjusting my nutrition plan based on the heat. I’ll be taking in more of my honey gels (in water, as always), plenty of gummies and I’ll be bringing some other electrolyte sources along with me in case I feel like I need them. I’ve been hydrating all week, eating pretty well over all, and also eating bananas and drinking coconut water, so I think I’m in good shape.

In a couple of hours I’ll be heading out to the Expo to pick up my race packet and join in the fun. I plan to be in bed around 8:00pm tonight so that I can get some sleep before getting up early enough to leave the house before 4:00am. Since this is my first marathon and my first race, I want to catch the first bus to the start in the morning, to give myself plenty of time to get things figured out without any undue stress.

I’m still planning to tweet some locations to my jinmontana account to help friends keep track of my progress. I don’t have twitter sending anything back to my phone, though, so I won’t see any replies until later. It is likely that I will tweet specifically about the “loop of sadness” at Bonner Park. If you look at the map you’ll see it start at 23.9 miles and end at 24.8.  I call it the “loop of sadness” because when we approach the aid station at 23.9 miles, we can see the 24.8 mile aid station JUST A BLOCK AWAY, right across the park. Some folks, upon realizing that they have to turn away and go south before coming back around to that second aid station, get very sad. I think I’m mentally prepared to make jokes about it rather than be sad.

I’ll talk more about this after the marathon, but in a lot of ways this race is the culmination of 13 months of working to improve my fitness so that I can feel better and live a longer, healthier life. It’s also a huge symbol for me, of how far I’ve come from the bad place I was in this time last year, and just how much better and happier my life is now.

I’ve used the magic of my spreadsheet to adjust my location chart for the heat.  Below you’ll see a 13 minute mile pace version and a 14 minute mile pace version. I’m hoping that the 13 minute mile version is closer to how my race turns out, but as I said above, my goal is to finish healthy and happy and I’m not going to worry about my time during the race.

I have just under 18 hours until the 5:00am start of my first official marathon. I do not plan for it to be my last.

M/pace  13 min          14 min
1      5:00-5:26      5:00-5:28
2      5:26              5:28
3      5:39              5:42
4      5:52              5:56
5      6:05              6:10
6      6:18              6:24
7      6:31              6:38
8      6:44              6:52
9      6:57              7:06
10    7:10              7:20
11    7:23              7:34
12    7:36              7:48
13    7:49              8:02
14    8:02              8:16
15    8:15              8:30
16    8:28              8:44
17    8:41              8:58
18    8:54              9:12
19    9:07              9:26
20    9:20              9:40
21    9:33              9:54
22    9:46              10:08
23    9:59              10:22
24    10:12            10:36
25    10:25            10:50
26    10:38             11:04

See you at the finish line!