In three days, I will be running my first marathon. Two years ago, this wouldn't have been on my radar. I was just glad to run for 20 minutes. But then I ran a 10K and survived. And I ran another 10K and survived. And then my brother-in-law and sister-in-law ran a marathon. And another sister-in-law completed a biatholon, the running and bicycling kind, not the cross-country skiing and shooting targets kind. They were my inspiration. Then I realized I needed better shoes and maybe some other stuff to help me recover. So on Saturday, I will get up sometime around 4 am to make sure I make the last bus taking me out to the start of the race at 5am to start running at 6 am. It will be the final sacrifice of sleep for this marathon that I will make. My biggest challenge will come around mile 18, when I will be running 1/2 mile south of my house and be sorely tempted to make a right turn on Harris to go home. But I am confident that my family will be there to cheer me on and keep me going in the right direction.
My last few weeks have been a bit discouraging because I have been suffering from pain that caused me to NOT complete my 20 mile run of the official marathon route. I have been doing a lot of stretching, using the roller and "the stick" and very little running to give my legs the maximum rest. The few times I have run, it has been short, fast runs that I have really enjoyed and reminded me of why I started running in the first place and my attitude has improved. I have spent a lot of time training for this and my goals are pretty basic: finish it within 6 hours with a secondary goal of finishing below 5 hours. To accomplish this, my plan is to run a 10K without stopping for anything except bathroom and drinks, then speed walk 0.3 mile. Run a little more than a 10K to reach the halfway point and speedwalk 0.4 miles. Two more 10Ks separated by a 0.3 mile rest will bring me to the finish line. The first half is almost totally downhill, so my average might be closer to 10:30, but after that, I will try to keep a 13:00 pace in my runs and 15:00 walking pace. I am bringing marzipan and Gu to give me energy in between stops. I might also bring the 1L camelback as much to carry the food and focus on drinking the gatorade at the rest stops. The Marathon is providing Cliff Shots which have made me feel sick in the past. My pre-race meal which seems to work for me is a banana and 1/2 cliff bar. I might need the camelback just to keep my stash. I will be running in an orange shirt with arm warmers and shorts, unless the forecast is for rain, in which I will wear a loose rain jacket and leggings so that I don't deal with chafing from the wet shorts.
I keep telling myself that I have prepared for this as much as I can and God has given me the strength and determination to keep going even when I wanted to quit. He has brought four wonderful women in my life through the East Valley Runners group who have encouraged me in each long run. Most of them are running the half marathon, but one lady will be running with me. And He has made me stronger through it, mentally as well as spiritually. He has proven that I can do all things through Him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13). And He has been showing me why He gave me Hebrews 12:1-2 as my life verse all those years ago when I hated running: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off all that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and run with perseverance the race set before us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (my words from memory). The training I have done for this race has been so good for me, though training in godliness through it that God has done in my heart during the many runs, both short and long has been of greater value (1Timothy 4:8). I praise God for encouraging me to accomplish this and for carrying me through the difficulties that come with training for it. And I will rejoice in the fatigue and inability to walk on Sunday, much less go up stairs.