DON’T SWEAT THE UNKNOWN
If I felt good post Chicago, I was going to run Hartford, CT the following Saturday.
It took a lot of crazy to get Rachel and I to the expo on the eve of race day (long wait for the first bus that never arrived, finally transferring only to find out that the second bus would make us too late to get to the expo, paying extra to find a train that would get us in with barely 30 minutes before the expo closed and realizing we would miss our carb loading dinner reservations.) Net net, we ate Sparros in the train depot, got to the expo, paid a surcharge for paying with a credit card, got my shirt, my bib and plopped us both in a hot bath to wash away the long and exhausting day. “WOW” I thought would I really be ready to run my second marathon in 6 days, somewhat undertrained, a lot cranky, very tired and still a little sore from being on my feet for almost 6 hours run/walking in Chicago????
This will go against EVERYTHING all of the books, blogs, coaches and experts will tell you… But I use marathons to test out new stuff. I test out new foods and how much or how little to eat on race morning and during the race itself. I will wear new clothes, shoes and paraphernalia for the first time and although I hope things will go smoothly, if it doesn’t, I know there are aid stations for fuel and medical stations for assistance and if I need to, I can actually stop to walk, visit the port-o-john or if I have to, I can not finish (DNF). I am proud to say that I’ve never had to DNF, though I came close last year at the NYC Marathon when a headache that started at mile 9 pounded in my head all the way thru to the end of the race. Now, I can’t train for a headache nor would I want to, but staying in the marathon under those conditions, made me realize that I could push through that kind of pain and be stronger than I thought so that next time, I’m ready. A few years ago, I read Brain Training For Runners (Matt Fitzgerald) and it became my bible. It helped me understand that a lot of my pre-marathon stress was from fearing the unknown. In training for the unknowns, I have become very comfortable introducing other unknowns into races. It’s made me so much more relaxed at the marathon distance that I feel as though I can just settle in and enjoy the party. For Chicago I tested out chewing gum, beef jerky and peanut m&ms, new gloves, a new hat and donuts for breakfast. For Hartford, I started the day with some eggs and potatoes and during the run, I tested out a full crunchy peanut butter with dark cherry jelly sandwich. I smushed it flat and rolled it up, thinking of Dean and his Hawaiian pizza burrito as I washed it down with sips of water. It was perfect.