Sunday, March 13, 2011

The crest of the hill

How can I be feeling this confident, this good, this cocky, even, about the marathon training?
Two 20-mile runs are still on the schedule, and the race is two months away. That's a lot of opportunity to get hurt.
But I still think the worst is over.
The worst was over Saturday, when I finished my first 20-miler.
This 20, after all, came after last week's 19 still on my legs. I ran 47 miles last week and ran 49 this week.
This won't mean as much to you, but I ran this week's 20 at a 9-minute pace, which is pretty aggressive, and yet, I felt good the whole time. Maybe it was the good company, staying hydrated or just the warmth of spring.
You tend to get used to being uncomfortable when you're training for a marathon in the dead of a Colorado winter. Stinging cheeks, frozen snot, frosty eyelashes, numb toes and bitter thighs are all common. Too common, really. So when I walked out Friday morning, for my 10-miler the day before the 20, in shorts, and though it felt good, I didn't feel joy. I felt dazed. It was probably what the bear feels after emerging from his den. My body felt light because it wasn't weighed down by heavy clothes. My body felt free and warm. It felt wonderful.
Ironically, Saturday's 20 was much easier than that 10. And that was encouraging and confusing at the same time.
Running can still be unpredictable, even when you prepare and train and know what to wear and how to sleep and, most of all, what to avoid. You can do everything right and feel like crap and do everything wrong and feel great.
So the worst is over. I feel great to be done with the toughest two weeks of the plan. But I know that there's no guarantees.
And no room to be cocky.

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