Week 18 of marathon training

The last week of marathon training…this is it! I’ve spent the last 18 weeks working toward this race and it’s finally here. Marathon #1, the Grand Rapids Marathon, is tomorrow. Here’s what the final week of training looked like:

Monday: Ran 3 miles. It felt kind of weird to be done with my run in less than half an hour. It was kind of nice though too!

Tuesday: Ran 5 miles. My schedule had a 4 x 400 workout on it and I wasn’t really sure how fast I should run. The plan specifies how fast to run 800s, but this week was the only time I had to run 400s and I couldn’t find any info about the pace. Matt thought somewhere around 10K pace seemed good and I agreed. I didn’t want to go too fast so close to the marathon. I settled on aiming for a 7:30 pace, which is a little slower than my 10K pace. I ran 1.5 miles to warm up and a little over 2 miles to cool down just to get more distance in. My splits were 7:16, 7:29, 7:18, and 7:15. I was a bit fast on most of the repeats, but not too bad I guess. Getting in a few bursts of speed for the last time before the marathon felt good.

Wednesday: Ran 2 miles. 2 miles? That’s it? It was a little cool outside and 2 miles wasn’t even long enough for my hands to warm up completely by the end of the run.

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Ran 2 miles. A shakeout run the day before the marathon. Since I was still really bad about getting enough sleep during the week, I made sure to get at least a solid 9 hours Friday night. It was rainy and cool for this one, but the run had to get done. Matt and I went out to the trail and the run was just fine. My feet were numb to start and my fingers were cold for most of the run, but the rain was light enough and I felt good. This was about 20 seconds slower than goal marathon pace. After 2 days of rest, my legs felt great!

Totals for the week: 12 miles of training with 26.2 more miles coming on Sunday!

Right when it was time to really taper in the week leading up to the race, work got ridiculously crazy. Tuesday and Wednesday were especially bad. I easily walked several miles each day and spent way too much time on my feet. I think that irritated my shins, and my legs were heavy and tired by the end of each day. Luckily things were calmer on Friday.

One really cool thing is that so many people at work have been extremely supportive. A manager who has toyed with the idea of running a marathon was intrigued to hear about the whole process. He had me talk to a “healthy living challenge” group one day about my training. I think he really likes the idea that anyone who sets their mind to it can accomplish it. A lot of people have been really curious about how it all works, and a lot of people have been genuinely excited for me. It’s kind of unexpected, yet a great feeling to have support from so many people.

Now that I’ve been through a true taper, I have to say the concept of “taper madness” was blown out of proportion. Maybe it hits some people more than others, but I didn’t notice a thing. I’ve read or been told that I’d have new aches and pains that would freak me out. I’d get irritated and snappy. I’d feel anxious or antsy. None of those things happened and life went on as usual. As I suspected, even though I spent less time running and working out, I managed to fill that time easily with something else. Maybe the craziness at work distracted me and helped keep me from worrying too much. I’ve had plenty of moments where I think about how I ought to pace myself during the marathon, but no freak-out moments. I didn’t have any new pains or feel like my legs were dead. The hip pain I first noticed a couple months ago is still very much present, but luckily it doesn’t seem to bug me when I run. My legs felt refreshed from running fewer miles.

I’m sure I’ll have plenty of anxious moments the night before and the morning of the race, but I’m trying to keep calm. I need to trust my training. I worked my butt off for the last 18 weeks and feel like the training was a big success.  I’m not truly hung up on hitting a certain pace – it was more of a guide for me in how I should complete my training. I plan on starting slow and possibly running somewhere around 10 seconds slower than the goal pace for as long as 20 miles. If I have anything left in me, I can step it up toward the end. If I don’t, I’ll just continue on the best I can. This is a learning experience. I’d rather end up a little slower than I may be capable of and enjoy my first marathon experience rather than run the risk of crashing and being completely miserable.

I have a feeling my biggest worries will be about what to wear. Right now, it looks like the real-feel could range from about 39-46 degrees while I’m running. While I’d planned on wearing short sleeves before, now I’m leaning toward long. I’m also hoping to get that damn Miley Cyrus song “Wrecking Ball” out of my head by tomorrow. I heard it while I was at work yesterday and haven’t been able to shake it since. I don’t run with music, so I usually end up with choruses of bad pop songs running through my head over and over. Please, please, please don’t let THAT song torture me! I’m also hoping I hold it together emotionally. When I saw Matt coming toward the finish line of his first marathon, I got all teary-eyed. I hope I can hold it together so I’m not crying in my finish line photo!

In the meantime, I’m giddy and looking forward to the race. I’m looking forward to going shopping at the expo and seeing the cool GR Marathon gear they have. I’m especially looking forward to finishing this weekend as a marathoner! I’ve come a long way over the last 18 weeks and I know that I’m ready. Thanks to anyone who has actually taken the time to read this blog as I work toward my first marathon – I appreciate your support!

– Janet

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4 thoughts on “Week 18 of marathon training

  1. AAAAHHH Congrats Janet!! The hard part is over and now you just get to enjoy the race. I’m so excited for you. You have a good strategy and I can’t wait to hear about how awesome it was for you. Good luck!!

  2. Good luck on the race and have a great time! Congratulations on all your hard work getting through 18 weeks of marathon training! That was the hard part, now you get to experience the fun part :-)

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