I'm less than a week away at this point! It is hard for me to believe that all my hard work for the past three and a half months is about to be put to the test! Feel free to check out my training at the halfway point before reading further if you want to catch up on the first 8 weeks.
By far, the biggest difference maker in my second half of training was a boot camp class that began at my work during my eighth week of marathon training. I had a built-in cross training day on Mondays that I had been using as an extra rest day up until week eight so I decided to give the boot camp class a try. Daury Dross of The Fhitting Room has been instructing our hour long high intensity classes. He's been a great motivator and teacher for the class. He also passed along a few stretching and breathing tips that have proved beyond helpful for me. I am SO glad I added this weekly class into the rotation for the last half of my training. It has truly made all the difference!
Along with the high intensity training, I also incorporated all of my long runs into the mix. My first really long run was 16 miles through central park and an over and back on the Queensboro Bridge. This bridge comes at Mile 16 during the actual marathon so when my friend, Amanda, suggested I incorporate it into some of my runs I heeded the advice. I am glad that I did because it was a bit daunting and now I feel a tad more prepared for it. It will come at a pivotal spot for me so knowing what it entails will be helpful on race day. However, the rest of the course remains a mystery to me!
Toward the end of September, we went to Mark and Shannon's wedding in Oswego, New York. We had a lot of fun and a late night, but I still managed to get in a brief though very windy run before we ventured back downstate. The scenery was great there!
The last weekend of September and the first weekend in October were BIG weekends for me. I had two back-to-back weekends of long runs slated. The first was an 18-miler. I'm not sure where I got the bright idea that completing two laps around Central Park's outer loop (plus a little more over on the west side highway) would be ideal for this run, but I went with it. And I found myself nearly dehydrated from what turned out to be an insanely hot September day at the end of it. I did not feel inspired after this run...at all. In fact, I became a little nervous about what exactly I had in store for me on November 3.
Fortunately, the weather broke by the time the following weekend rolled around making the 20-miler a bit more manageable in terms of the elements. The distance, however, was still quite intimidating. I ran down the west side highway to the base of Manhattan, completed an out and back on the Brooklyn Bridge, got a bit lost before finding my way to the South Street Seaport and up the FDR drive, completed an out and back on the Queensboro Bridge, and then headed home. I was spent to say the least. I began to fatigue around Mile 16. I did some walking and pushed through those last few miles, but did manage to finish the last mile pretty strong. I felt a real sense of accomplishment after completing this run even though it didn't go as well as I had hoped. It definitely gave me some mental confidence in knowing that I could complete the distance. After this run, I just kept reminding myself that I only ever had to do that distance (plus six more miles...eek!!) one more time...EVER! For some reason, this was helpful to me :)
After two consecutive weekends of long runs, my body (and particularly my left hip to knee...the IT band area, I've been told) was really feeling it. We headed out of town that weekend for a family wedding in Florida. I wanted to try to get in a shorter long run (8-10 miles), but it was just too hot even at 8am for me to manage anything more than three miles. Fortunately, my body appreciated the rest so maybe it was the best thing for me after all.
My last somewhat long run was in Albany on the weekend that I threw Chris a surprise going away party! He watched soccer with some friends while I completed my last long run of training on what turned out to be a gorgeous day. I felt good the entire 12 miles and was thrilled to be on pace (12:14/mile) for the whole run. This gave me a ton of confidence headed into two weeks of the dreaded taper. For the first time in all of my training, I knew that I could really do it. It was great to have such a good run so close to the end!
This past weekend, we traveled back to Kentucky to visit my family and go to the Bengals/Jets game (WHO DEY - but more on that trip later!). I had a couple of short runs to complete while there. I managed 4-mile and 5-mile solid runs in an 11:45/12 minute pace. It was pretty chilly there so this gave me a taste of "cold" running which may or may not be a reality when I line up for the real deal this weekend! I'm hoping for low 60's. Keep your fingers crossed!
Overall, I feel ready. I have trained hard and made oh so much progress over the past three months. I know without a doubt that I can finish the race. And I will. I have set three goals. My most basic goal is to simply finish the race. And that will make me very happy. My good goal is to cross the finish line in under six hours. I am extremely hopeful about this one, but it will all depend on how things go on race day. I won't lose sight of my basic goal, but I will be pushing to ensure my good goal is met for sure. My great goal is to finish in 5:4X. This is not out of the realm of possibilities, but I will need to be very consistent and focused in order to met this one. I'm not counting myself out for any of these goals. All are very manageable. I do know one thing for sure...this week is going to move at a snail's pace. I'm so excited (and nervous) to have this amazing experience on Sunday!