TO: Molly W., Best Running Friend
FROM: Sarah Bowen Shea, Another Mother Runner
CC: All women runners taking on 26.2
DATE: 8 April 2015
RE: Marathon Running Advice
Do not sneak in any last-minute training. You followed the plan nearly perfectly (except for those few days when you were on business in snowbound Ohio), including three (3!!) runs of 20 miles or longer. Despite what your taper-tizzied brain is telling you, you are 100% ready for this race. Do not spring out your door and do another long run to convince yourself you're capable of covering the distance; you'll only wear yourself out.
Reflect on how you rocked your runs. I was by your side for some of the training, but you tackled the toughest miles solo, including 20 miles on a treadmill in your Ohioan friend's basement. You soldiered on countless times to finish long runs after dropping me at my house. Even when you gave yourself the mental "out" of doing the tough work, you still rose to the challenge and did it.
Remember your goals. You have trained to run at a 9:30 average pace, which would have you finishing just under 4:10, a massive, 15-minute PR. You are far more badass than you give yourself credit; this finish time is yours for the taking. Also remind yourself you have always said you want to feel strong from start to finish.
Go out conservatively. You start every one of our runs like a peppy Easter bunny, prancing along with lightly curled fists, while I huff, puff, and try to hang with you. The marathon course you chose is slightly uphill from Mile 9 to 13, then gradually downhill from 14-21. On those early flatter miles, hold yourself back; reign in your enthusiasm and curb your adrenaline. You finished so dang strong in your debut marathon (cracking sincerely funny jokes even at Mile 22, including: "You know the real reason I ran this marathon? [Pause] So I wouldn't have to cook dinner tonight!")
Talk yourself up. Positive self-talk is like a magic pill that, done correctly, can drive away negative thoughts and discomfort. Use words that will help lighten the load, not remind you of any difficulties. So no, "I'm so tired; I need be strong." Instead, "Fire my turbo boosters." Or, "Give more, more, more." Or, "I got this. I got this. I GOT this." (And if that gets too tough, imagine my bossy voice saying the same words to you!)
Stick to your fueling plan. You are great at taking in a GU Energy Gel every four miles on training runs. Do the same thing on race day, and consider carrying some GU Energy Chews to augment those gels in the final 10K. Easier on the tummy to take in smaller units of calories every few minutes than 100 calories all at once. And follow every energy blast up with a Nuun chaser of at least 4 ounces.
Drink in the scenery. Your inner pioneer-gal loves the natural Oregon landscape; no need for city-slicker sights for you. So soak in the verdant splendor as you run around that lake and through those scenic woods. (And I doubt you'll see any money on the ground, but if you do, run past it; run past it.)
Respect your early miles in the final 10K. After running your goal pace for the first 20 or so miles, you need to pay homage to them: Don't give in to the discomfort and the challenging effort by slowing down. You have done the bulk of the work; keep pushing. You don't want to taste regret after the finish line (just pride and chocolate milk!).
Remind yourself you actually like running. You are queen of the kvetch (and I love you for it!), but we both know you gripe, whine, sigh, and moan for the laughs. (Well, usually.) You were disappointed when you had to drop back from 26.2 to 13.1 last fall at Victoria. You chose to run Vernonia Marathon (what's up with the "V---ia" race names?), and you put in the work. Yes, some hills, paces, and miles were beastly, but overall you enjoyed the training. Now go have a great race--and a fun time--on Sunday!