It’s that time of year again. This week, I dug up the marathon training plan I followed for last year’s Pikes Peak Ascent. Today, I sat down to count backward from race day to determine what week my official training should start.
It’s a pivotal moment, at least for me. It’s the moment that I realize that my running freedom of choice will soon end. I will no longer be able to get away with tacking a few extra miles onto a long run in secret self-justified compensation for cutting a speed workout short or skipping it altogether. I will no longer be able to take an extra day off when I feel like it ‘just because.’
Soon, I will wake every morning and think, “What’s my plan got me running today?” with a goal for race day in mind rather than “How hard do I feel like running today?” Soon, I will have to psych myself up for tough runs, hills, and speed work, knowing that every step run is a step closer to the starting line on August 18th.
Race goal aside, my first and foremost goal is to step to the Pikes Peak Marathon start on that day, bouncing and shifting my body weight from one foot to the other, right hand on my watch and right index finger on the ‘start/stop’ button, taking a few last deep breaths to relax and to focus before the gun, knowing that I had done everything I possibly could to prepare myself for the 26.2 awaiting.
To my relief, “soon” is a little later than I’ve been thinking the past few weeks. I won’t have to start officially training until the week of April 28th, exactly one month from tomorrow and about two weeks further down the road than anticipated. This means I won’t have to wake extra early to squeeze in a morning run while in either Seattle or San Francisco for two conferences I’ve got coming up for work. Perfect!
I’m feeling pretty good about my training for my first-ever marathon attempt already.
For four months begging on April 28th, I will memorize my training plan’s running regimen at the beginning of each week and draw a single straight line through those numbers at the week’s end. I will go to bed a little earlier, knowing that I will wake with that day’s run on my mind.
I will remember the feeling that my registration confirmation e-mail brought on March 13th, will relive the quiet excitement of a new goal to be met with a subdued grin to myself.
I will picture the very top of Pikes Peak as seen from I-25 through Colorado Springs, the finish line then but now my half-way mark to accomplishing the feat of my first-ever marathon:
Melissa Mincic, Ph.D., studies child development at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a long-time road and trail runner. Follow Melissa on Twitter at @nerdinrunshoes.