So, today was the start of my official New York City Marathon training plan. And like many plans, it starts with a rest day, so I felt off all day, like I should be doing something productive, instead of, well, resting. I did have a rather intense and intermittently painful/enjoyable session with my foam roller this morning, working out some of the kinks from yesterday's long run. But beyond that, I didn't run and I sure felt like I didn't really start anything today.
But, tomorrow, it starts in earnest. I'm using the Basic Marathoner plan from the ING New York City marathon site, and it calls for three 20-mile runs and one 22-miler. I've never done more than one 20-miler in preparation before, and maybe that's been the problem. Even though I've finished eight marathons in the past six years, I've never really had an easy race, and I've crashed and burned about mile 18-19 more than once. So this year, I am taking a much more aggressive tact and working with a plan that demands more miles from the outset, and more miles in the midst of it, and more miles on the long runs.
The streak in June was designed to build up my legs, and build up my confidence. It was intended to remind me of the times of day that I run best (either early morning or late at night - early evening does NOT work for me), and to remind me that I really do enjoy running. That's why I very often did not run with a watch or even an iPod for much of June. I was not so interested in split times and paces as I was with getting the miles in and rebuilding my brain, rewiring me as a distance runner.
Now, I have the plan in place, and it's been adapted to allow for Sunday long runs, so that I can continue to meet my BFFs for our weekly therapy walks on Saturdays. It's been adapted a bit to allow for the races that I'm running this summer (a 15K in a few weeks will require a run-off of a couple of miles afterward, then a 15-miler at midnight, and a half-marathon in mid-August), but I am bound and determined to hit 100% of my workouts for this training cycle. I know that is probably not going to happen, and I'm not going to beat myself up if it doesn't happen, but that is definitely going to be the goal, each and every week.
Do I have a time goal for this race? Of course I do. Is it realistic? I'm not sure. Yet. I'll know better once I've gotten some of those 20-milers under my belt whether it's a realistic goal or not. I know that at my half-marathon PR pace, hell, even at my worst half-marathon pace, that I am capable of finishing a marathon in under five hours. I have not done it yet. But for this race, I am really less concerned with the time on the clock (LIES!!) than I am with having a good time during the race. I want to have fun during this race. I want to enjoy the scenery and the sounds and the entire atmosphere of one of the biggest races in the world in one of the most amazing cities in the world. I don't want to spend any of this race sitting on the curb crying. I don't want to start this race injured and mentally shaken up so that I don't perform to my best. I want to have the experience of a lifetime at this race, and soak it all up and have it be the most fun that I've ever had at a marathon. Is that too high of an expectation? Probably. But when you hear runners talk about NYC, it may not be. And when I think about the time that I've spent in NYC, and the runs that I've done in Central Park, along the reservoir at dusk, I don't think that it is too high an expectation. I'm working to create a memory here, a memory that I've waited four years for. Hell, I've waited 40 years for this, I just didn't know it until recently.
So, am I excited about the next 18 weeks? Oh, yes. Yes, I am. Am I scared? Even more so. I'm scared I'll get hurt, or get sick, or do something stupid again (like try to learn to skate and blow out my knee in the process... not that I'm contemplating learning to skate anytime soon... yes, I am... but, yeah.). But more than anything, I am READY for the next 18 weeks, and those 18 weeks, well, they started today.