Pep Rally: My best workouts & visualizing the finish

Today my mental state is LEVEL ORANGE (lurching precipitously toward the edge). Yesterday the sore throat that's been hanging around ominously for about a week tipped over to a full-fledged Thing. It was accompanied by a bad headache, small fever, and general fatigue/weakness (though fortunately running felt easy enough). I took Nyquil and went to bed early last night, but woke up feeling WORSE, but then throughout the day I felt better. 

Jess's marathon week to-do list has been circulating, and I especially like Tuesday's: "Make a list of every good workout you completed while training. Focus on everything you did to prepare for this race."

I can't think of a better time to do just that!


  • A short RunDRM/Fullsteam group run showed me I still had some speed left after my monthlong running hiatus (8:03, 8:11, 8:17).
  • The next day I pulled out 5 HM-paced miles  (8:21, 8:32, 8:31, 8:28, 8:29)
  • And I started cranking out the PDRs, starting with a 15-miler. I went from 0 miles to 15-milers in a month and stayed injury-free -- some kind of miracle.
  • I fell absolutely in love with running in North Carolina. It's just beautiful here. There are no bad routes. I knew running the hills here would make me stronger, and they have.


  • Things started to "click" halfway through the month after I took a weekend off. The rest was just what I needed.
  • I raced my first tuneup, the Midtown 10k and scored my first ever AG award (1st place!) I remember feeling beaten down at the beginning because I was late and had to run alone (and the out-and-back course meant all the fast half marathoners started passing me in the second 3 miles), which, combined with the crazy hill at the end, was tough to deal with. This was a so-bad-it-was-good race, because no matter how bad Central Park seems, it won't be worse than that.
  • The next day I surprised myself with a really strong 12-miler in 1:45  (my half marathon PR is 1:52). I felt incredible, like I was holding back the whole time.


  • In early October I raced my second tuneup, the Carrboro 10k, and got a new 10k PR on a mad hilly course on tired legs. I spent two miles reeling in a woman who looked crazy strong (but I was stronger). My mental game was rock solid the entire time. I will definitely be channeling this race during the last 6.2 miles.
  • I ran the Al Buehler trail easily & frequently, which had humbled me back in August. I know I've improved so much since then.
  • My 20-miler in 3:06 and change with a bleeding chafe wound on my chest. This was my longest and fastest long run to date.

And before that, while in  Thailand, I thought of the marathon. I ran on the island of Koh Tao in my time off from diving, by the ruins in Ayuthaya, and past the open markets and hip districts in Chiang Mai. I ran in the mountains in the  Catskills, in a spontaneous sunshower in Orlando, FL on a treadmill in  St. Louis   (sorry, St. Louis!), and around  Asheville, NC. I ran on trails in my new 'hood in Durham. I learned my way around East & West campus and explored Main Street, 9th St, and Geer St. I ran with my friends Vanessa, Jamie, Shannon, and James -- but I did most of those miles alone to steel myself against negative thoughts on marathon day. I've run over 900 miles so far in 2013 (more than double what I ran in 2012), all to get to that start line on Sunday.

And while I was running by effort, I still hit (most of) my target paces. I might have run my easy runs a little faster, but I'm proud of how I pushed through burning lungs during intervals and didn't wimp out or cut workouts short.

I'm very happy with my training plan. I made only minor adjustments from week to week, depending on how I was feeling. It was challenging but doable; in hindsight, I don't think I could have done more.

There are a few things I would do differently next time, like start off with a bigger base, but I knew when I planned my summer that running less would be one of the trade-offs. I'm just glad training went as well as it did.

Not exactly ideal.

Not exactly ideal.

I even hit my highest-ever mpw and ran a couple 40+ mile weeks. 

Time for a shift in visualization

I had a realization today that I have been visualizing starting the race: Frank Sinatra's New York, New York, the gun going off, a mass of us shuffling forward at an awkward walk before breaking into a jog, the excited whoops and laughing, and climbing the first mile up the Verrazano. Now that I know I will definitely be at that start line, I realize I completely forgot to visualize finishing. I want to anticipate the negative thoughts I might have around miles 18-22, and feel prepared to deal with them. I love the video of Meb finishing NYC in 2009 that Carla posted. He's smiling and pumping up the crowd to cheer for him. He isn't grimacing, shuffling, or checking his watch. This is the definition of a strong finish:


Other things on my mind:

I've tried to write a few times about what this marathon means to me -- why I'm running a marathon in the first place, and why it was so important to me that it was New York. I've failed so far, so I'll just share the short version, which is that the New York marathon has come to represent the time in my life when I started believing in myself a little. It was (is!) a big, scary goal I realized I could conquer piece by piece, a little bit at a time. The reasons why and how I moved to New York are relevant but that's the part I have trouble writing about, so I'll just yadda-yadda over them and skip to the end --

During every run, I think about my family, my past, and how I kind of recreated myself into someone who could run a marathon. I think about how so many things came together for me in New York -- things I would have sworn would just always be out of my reach just a few years earlier, when I was at a college I hated and working four jobs. New York greeted me warmly and showered me with gifts: I was offered a dream job, I made friends, I met other orphans and pseduo-orphans, I applied to, and graduated from graduate school, I fell in love. I finally transcended myself and started being the person I always wanted to be. All the while I felt so supported and safe in the city -- which is why, to see everyone come out and cheer on total strangers, I can't help myself. I start crying.

noticed I'm being weirdly self-deprecating and negative about the race IRL -- when asked about it, I make jokes about "IF I finish...! Ha, ha!" I don't even know why I'm saying these things, because I'm 100% certain I'll finish this race, because New York has given me everything I ever dreamed of and more. On Sunday, the streets will open up, the crowds will make room and cheer for us, and we'll all, to paraphrase HD Thoreau, run confidently in the direction of our dreams and live the lives we have imagined.

(I'm embarrassed by how sentimental I feel, but oh well: My taper feelings have reached LEVEL BLINKING RED LIGHT: Feelings Uncontrolled and Imposed on Others. )