Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ready or Not...

So this is pretty much it. After three months of officially training for it, race day is all but here. I took my last 3-mile taper run at lunch today and I'll go for a walk tomorrow to keep the legs moving, but really there's nothing left to do but wait. And the wait is agonizing -- I'm looking forward to the air horn going off at 8:00am on Sunday morning, but even more I'm looking forward to getting it over with.

Now that I'm pretty much out of time, it's easy to ask myself "Did I do enough?" I'm not sure. I would have liked to get my 20 miles runs in, but rehabbing my knee cut out a month's worth of long runs. I should have gone to more of the track workouts, but work and weather constantly interfered. It doesn't matter, I should have found a place to do them locally. Now all the worry and all the listening to "Eye of the Tiger" won't change a thing.

In terms of training, I had a great January, a rough most of February, a great last weekend of February and a good March. I've done well at coming back and getting my weekday miles in. I've worked hard and the knee is holding up. It's been a nice little comeback. But still, before beginning the training program, my longest run was 16 miles. Currently, my longest run is 18, three weeks ago in Florida. Did I do enough? Not sure. Did I do the best I could under the circumstances? Yes, I think I did.

However, the reality is that this just didn't go as well as I'd hoped. I'd overestimated myself and underestimated the ten miles that I had three months to add. The excuses, legitimate and not, are many. The odds now are as long as the race.

I'm not as ready for this as I wanted to be. My knee will hurt. Other parts of my legs will probably be in complete agony. I'll probably run out of delicious, refreshing orange Gatorade and have to switch to the disgusting lime Gatorade that they'll have on the course. I'll probably have to take some stops to stretch my IT bands out. I'm just not conditioned for 26.2 miles. And I think I have a cold

I don't care. It doesn't matter. I'm finishing this race. I'm 8 miles short in my training. 8 miles? 8 miles is what I do at lunch. I eat 8 miles for lunch. The time for kicking myself is over, and the time for kicking ass has arrived. I'll take what I've learned and do a better job next time, if there is a next time, but I'm finishing this race.

I'm going to get my finisher's hat. I'm going to get my medal. I'm going to get the (allegedly very good) Irish Stew that they serve at the finish line (and then I'll probably get sick, but that's ok). I'm going to get some Yuengling (and it will be better than any sip of delicious, frosty beer that I've ever tasted) and then on the way home I'm going to get donuts (which I'd given up for Lent with the exception of race day). 26.2 donuts if that's what I want.

The road leading up to 8:00am on Sunday morning has been long. It has stretched over the last four years and thousands miles.

For most of the last four years of running, I didn't know where it was going and I don't know where it goes from here. I didn't think training for that first 5K would lead to this. I insisted that it wouldn't, in fact.

There were plenty of times during which I felt like running was a necessary evil, something I had to do to justify that extra donut, or Rhino Fries, or Cookie Dough ice cream. There have been times when my run has been the most relaxing part of my day and times when it's been the most unpleasant. It's my stress-relieving activity that I turned into another stressor the moment I started contemplating this race. I've taken it too seriously. I haven't taken it seriously enough. There were many times when I was out on a run at lunch or before work, and I just didn't want to come back to the office, and there were times when I just wanted to get it over with.

I think Sunday will be one of those last kind of runs. It's going to be terrifying, it's going to painful, and it's going to be exhilarating. It's going to be an adventure.


Now all that's left to do is get started.