When the Minneapolis Marathon was cancelled as I stood at the start line last year, I was offered the chance to register for this year’s race for only $20. Naturally, I couldn’t resist such a deal and felt I should get something for my pain. So I signed up.
Fast forward to winter. It’s dragging on and Rich and I are eager for spring. The opportunity to do a spring cycling tour was irresistible, and we set off for five weeks on our bicycles. Of course I knew that the marathon lurked shortly beyond our fuzzy completion date, and figured I’d deal with that when I got home. By the time my feet rotated on the pedals for the last time, it was exactly three weeks to Marathon day. Great.
Cross training is one thing. But when it is to the exclusion of the main sport, it gets a bit dicey. I already knew that my body didn’t accept cycling as a substitute for running, and that I’d have to retrain a whole different set of muscles. Running never feels so awkward as it does after a long layoff.
I didn’t waste any time. Before we even started our drive home, I did a 5 mile run. It was ugly. My legs felt like rubber and I could hardly wait to be done. We won’t even talk about how long it took. But I persevered. Increasing my mileage each day (far beyond what any sensible training program would advise) soon brought me up to my 10-mile standard. Just over a week later, I did my first “long” run – going to the Aerial Bridge and back for a 13-miler. And a few days later, I topped that with 15 miles.
Never mind that I was still pressing for longer distances in the period when most marathoners are in their taper mode. There was nothing reasonable or sane about what I was doing. Knowing that the marathon rules allowed me to change my registration to the Half Marathon as late as the day before the race, I knew I had a fall-back. Although others who know me well doubted I could make that concession, I kept the idea in reserve. Until last weekend. Completing a solid 18 mile run at the cabin and still feeling good, I knew there was no turning back. It’s the full marathon for me. Crazy as it seems.
Sunday will be the show down. At 6:30am I’ll be toeing the start line once more. So far they are predicting good weather, and I fully expect to cross that line and advance down the course this time. It feels entirely different approaching this race with such a lack of preparation. Time is of little importance, it’s all about just finishing. I intend to treat it as just another training run, but with great crowd support, the benefit of water stations and family members there to cheer me on. Then we’ll all see just what happens when I attempt 26.2 in only 3 weeks.