The home stretch

A couple years ago, when I was working on a series of stories and multimedia features previewing the Five Points of Life

Only 33 days to go until the Marine Corps Marathon!

Only 33 days to go until the Marine Corps Marathon!

Marathon in Gainesville as a reporter for The Gainesville Sun, I wrote a story about what Runner’s World calls “the monster month,” when marathon training gets into the longest of the long runs, the toughest speedwork and the highest chance of burnout.

I’m coming into the monster month leading up to the Marine Corps Marathon just about now, but I’m thinking of things a bit differently this training cycle.

Rather than looking at the last 33 days before the marathon as a monstrous jumble of physical exertion to be gotten through, I’m going to see it as a chance to really take care of my body, fueling it with fruits and veggies and whole grains, strengthening it with my lineup of core and hip exercises, repairing it with ice baths and stretching and generally preparing it to cross the finish line of a 26.2-mile race — an accomplishment I’m absolutely not taking for granted.

I’m also going to focus on appreciating each remaining long run for the awesome journey that it is, whether it’s a journey filled with pain and humiliation or warm fuzzies and ego boosts. Sure, I wouldn’t be running 20 miles next weekend if not for the impending 26.2, but I don’t want to see it merely as a means to an end.

I’m preparing myself to have a similar attitude about my finishing time. Since I’ve completed one marathon and run several halves, it’s hard not to have a fairly rigid goal time in mind. But I’m starting to realize that being too rigid about it might take away from the joy I ought to feel about just being able to run 26.2 miles. I’m not saying I won’t be disappointed with a time that’s way slower than what I have in mind. I’m just saying, I want to maintain my sense of awe and respect for this distance.

With all that in mind, I’m going to view the next four weeks as the home stretch — a sort of mini pre-marathon running spa — rather than the monster month.

First up: Truly savoring this morning’s run through my parents’ subdivision in New Port Richey, Fla., where I’m staying through Tuesday. I’m heading out early, before the state turns into a giant, sunny sauna, and before the demands of the day start weighing on me. How easy it is to forget that running is my reward! I hope I can keep that in mind both this morning and on race day.


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9 responses to “The home stretch

  1. Great frame of mind for the “monster month.” I agree, too often we see our training as a means to accomplishing our goal and forget to appreciate the run and the journey. I think the same thing can be said about life, that often times we get caught up in the goals and don’t stop to appreciate the path we are taking to attain them. I suggest you run your 20-miler somewhere you’ve never run before but always wanted to tour. A 20 mile run is an opportunity.

  2. Courtney

    one of my favorite posts… good metaphor for life many times… because what is the means to the end if you don’t enjoy the means??

    and now I am reading the comment before mine and i’m sounding redundant.

    as for the 20-miler… if you do consider something new (especially if you can get steve to tag along on his bike, which is how i did it… a support team in toe with water and supplies)… have you reconsidered the Arlington 17/18 mile loop? i am sure you can add a couple more miles on the front/back to get to 20.

    • The support team on the bike sounds really smart … but with or without one, I’m now committed to doing something new, whether it’s the Arlington loop or the CCT, which, sadly, I’ve also never done a long run on (Sligo Creek Trail is just too close, and too easy!).

  3. beautiful description of the “monster month” and marathon training/racing. i, too, need to work on enjoying the ride more and not focusing so much on any specifics. marathon training is quite the journey in itself; i think i might prefer it to actually running the race! once it’s over it’s kind of like, ‘ok… now what?’

  4. OK, I’ll bite, what’s the Arlington 17/18 mile loop? I’m always looking for good long run routes in this area.

    Hope this month treats you well and you enjoy all the runs you do.

    • Courtney

      here’s some info I sent to amy earlier on the on the Arlington loop:

      Click to access Bike%20Map%20back.pdf

      (the blue route– they say 18, but i think it is a little less. if you need to add more, a mile or so out and back on the WO&D/Yellow is a good option. warning. totally uphill from Rosslyn to Lee Highway/Spout Run)

      i TOTALLY recommend subs from the Italian store at Lee Highway and Kirkwood/Spout Run. (if you are going to drive to start… park there and get a sub when you are finished! YUM!)

      and, oh yeah… the loop is fun, too… nature, reagan airport, yada yada…. if you haven’t been that way and aren’t on bike, (or dont’ mind parking) check out T.R. Island also. 🙂

      the loop can be a little weird through Shirlington. it is a little confusing to get to the overpass over 395… so take the map 🙂

      nice bathrooms in Bluemont park by the tennis courts. port-a-potties sometimes at TR Island. always at Reagan— but heavily used and usually pretty gross, but when you gotta go, you gotta go…

      if you bike it, looks like you can prob find a route to make it longer and bike from silver spring– through rock creek park to the key bridge.. Now there you have it…

  5. So glad you are having an amazing journey to your 26.2… that’s the most important thing. And as for your finishing time… don’t worry much b/c you’ll do great!

  6. Pingback: One last push « Amy’s Training Blog

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