Three weeks from yesterday, I'll be toeing the line at my first marathon.
Mid-point of my longest run ever: end of the bike path in Bedford.
Yesterday morning, I ran my longest run ever and my longest run before the marathon: 20.8 miles, which should also mark the start of my taper. Despite having trained for this 23 weeks, I don't feel quite ready. My biggest concern is that my long run pace has been significantly slower than the 8:12 pace I'll need to maintain to hit a 3:35 goal. The last hour of yesterday's run I ran on 8:12s, but that was downhill, my net-graded pace (estimation of the pace on the flat) was 8:20.
But whether I run the marathon in 3:35 or 4:35, I'm gonna finish. That's all about guts, and I feel confident that I've got the guts to finish. Training for this marathon has led to a lot of firsts: many new longest runs ever (20.8 the latest record), many new most miles ever run in a week (40 miles this week is the latest), running the whole river loop, running to the end of the bike path in Bedford. I've run over 525 miles in marathon training, that's one pair of running shoes sacrificed to training for the marathon. I've run in 12 degree weather with my water bottles freezing shut. I've run in a headlamp. I've worn compression gear under my work clothes.
I had always considered a marathon outside of the realm of possibility for me. With so many shin splints throughout the years, I just didn't think my body could handle that volume of running. Sure, there have been aches and pains, and trouble getting out of chairs, but no injuries (knock on wood). This is uncharted territory for me, and it's reinforced that there will always be new frontiers to explore.
In the next three weeks, I'll focus on the minutiae of the race: the weather, what to wear, how to tote my ~800 calories of gels, to bring my own water or rely on the course, what to eat the night before, buying plane tickets to DC (yeah, I know), and of course where to find our celebratory brunch afterward.
Here's to the taper!