Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Homestretch

The Boston Marathon on April 18 will by the seventh marathon of my career, and I can say I have never trained for one the same way twice. Basically, it’s all about getting as strong and as fit as possible, and there are so many different ways to get there. This marathon build-up has been probably the most different. Knowing that January 2012 and the Olympic Marathon Trials are most important, my coach and I decided to have a little more fun with workouts and change things up from our normal routine.

Normally, I would never consider overseas travel and racing during a marathon training phase, but the chance to compete at the Cross Country World Championships was too good to pass up. I had been training pretty hard for several months, so we factored in a down mileage week, so I would be a little fresh for the race. I felt great by the time the race rolled around and made it home with just a little jet-lag. Unfortunately, I was sidelined for a few days with food poisoning. Luckily, Quin missed me and sat with me or on me much of the time.

“Mama sick?”

Though it was frustrating to have almost everything go according to plan and get derailed at the end of my travels, I am finally picking up some momentum and feeling back to normal. I have two or three more hard workouts left until I start to taper for the marathon. I have always found these last few weeks before the marathon the toughest and the most likely time to get hurt or lose focus.

Usually, I am feeling physically and emotionally fatigued from all of the long runs and workouts, but this time I feel more refreshed having taken some time off ­both planned and forced.

No matter how well things go, as race day approaches I can’t help but wonder if I did enough. I have to keep reminding myself, it’s not one workout that makes the difference, but the combination of weeks and weeks of hard work. When my coach, Bob Sevene, coached Joan Benoit Samuelson to the 1984 Olympic Gold medal in the marathon, he said she always believed she was training harder than anyone in the world. The days before the race she was so intense and focused that Sevene didn’t let her do a press conference.

Joan’s ability to mentally prepare for a big race was like none he has ever seen since.

For a petite woman, she was a mental giant.

With roughly three weeks to go, the physical preparation is coming to an end, but the mental preparation is just revving up. Dealing with the nerves of race day, reminding myself that it will be painful, believing in my own training, and playing out several race scenarios are just a few things I will be thinking about on my runs until the gun goes off in Hopkington, Mass.

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