Now and then

So as the weekend draws closer, I am veering between excitement and terror as to what lies ahead. The rational part of my brain is telling me to trust in the plan, and trust my training, and trust myself. The irrational part is panicking about everything going wrong- setting off too fast, getting too hot, running out of energy…

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I finally made a Simnel cake- this one was from the CCC book and contained pistachios as well as marzipan baked into the mixture. 

When I was looking for marathon training plans, I found it quite hard. When I did Stockholm (back in 2011) it was my first marathon, so it was easy to find a “get you round” plan for a first timer. But now, things are different. Back then I had only been running for 3 years, and had only run a few races (including two half marathons) in that time. Now, I am a more experienced runner (10 half marathons now), and I know a lot more about myself. But I am still pretty much a novice marathon runner- running one hardly makes me “experienced” in that field, so I am still finding a lot of it pretty tough as it is all fairly new.

However, I need to remind myself that my running experience is going to stand me in good stead. Anyway, here are my worries:

Hydration

Back then I would not run without my water bottle, and now I know I can run a half marathon without drinking water on the course. I was worrying about not carrying my water bottle with me (as I did last time) but there are water stations on the course so I can drink pretty much when I want to. I did take nuun with me on my last marathon, and without a bottle on me this won’t be an option. But before my long runs this time I have been having a tab in water with my breakfast, so I will continue this. I worry a bit about hyponatremia but if I don’t have water with me I won’t be tempted to drink so much anyway. And I will have another nuun tab in water when I finish.

Nutrition

Back then I tried gels and they were horrible! I settled with clif blocks, jelly tots/ jelly beans, and nakd bars. Recently I have gone off using jelly beans in races (the sugar just seemed to leave my mouth feeling dry and thirsty) so have opted for fruit yoyos and some sort of cereal bar. I might pack some jelly beans for the final few miles as I have a little bag of them, and maybe a few dates. I used to have porridge before long runs but that has not worked so well this time. What does work is toast, coconut oil and jam, so I will be taking that with me. We are staying in an apartment so hopefully there is a toaster there!

Pace

First of all, how are you meant to work out your marathon pace? I could work out a 5K pace because I run 5k most weeks and know what it feels like to push myself and still be able to finish. But even in my training runs I have not really hit a certain pace- the advice tended to be to run them as slowly as felt comfortable, and to just complete the distance. Last time my time was 5.21.59 (I was aiming for 5 hours, but I was on antibiotics for a UTI which turned out to be the cyst that had to be removed)- this time I want to beat that and I feel that 5 hours is an achievable target for me. I have looked at the pacer bands (make them here, I love them), and I would need to do 11.24 min miles. I think that is OK, but some of my longer runs have been around this speed (the 17 miler and one 20 miler) but others have been faster (my first 20 miler). So am I capable of going faster? I don’t know! I don’t want to mess a 5 hour potential time going for something shorter, but also being out for that long is tough, so if I can be out for a bit less time it might not be so bad. The logic is disappearing…

Weather

I can’t control this, I know that. But the weather for Stockholm was pretty much perfect. A bit cloudy, and cool. All my training has been done in the cold- I think I wore capris once, and wore a t-shirt once to a parkrun and was pretty cold. But this week the weather has been hotting up. I am planning on wearing my club vest, and was originally going to wear it over a thin long sleeved top, but the way the weather is going I might just wear the vest. I will pack my visor and capris and sun lotion, and just hope for some cloud.

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I bought some calf sleeves this week to put on when I finish- I do love compression socks for after a long run but they can be a bit of a battle to put on, so I am hoping they might be easier for immediately after.

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And I bought this top (John Lewis were having a sale on sportswear)- might have it in my bag for when I finish.

Letting myself down 

I am not running to raise sponsorship, I am just running to beat my time pretty much, or to finish a marathon while I am healthy. With Stockholm, it ended up being very tough, and part of that was my cyst for sure, but being on antibiotics and flying the night before didn’t help either. Originally my plan was to sign up for a second marathon once I did a 2 hour half, because I felt that running for nearly 5 1/2 hours was such a long time to be running. I got close at Bath last year (2.06) so decided to sign up, giving myself a year to make that target. In the end I didn’t achieve that-I only ended up doing two half marathons- one half was a hilly trail, my slowest ever, and the other was in the midst of my marathon training (Brighton- 2.04) so I didn’t want to push too hard and jeopardize my marathon. I feel a bit like this is my only chance to beat my time, because the training has been so tough- I took on more responsibility at work this year so the hours have been harder, and I have found myself pretty shattered at the weekends. I am not saying never again, but I can’t see myself signing up for another one in the near future (Stockholm was my 30th birthday present to myself, so maybe for my 40th I’ll do another?…), so I want to make the training count for something.

But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. I have put all of this pressure onto myself, and of course ideally I would get my ideal time, and enjoy it, and finish it. But if I have to stop, then who cares? Only me. If I struggle and finish slowly, who cares? Well, maybe Andy because he will be waiting for longer, but they have deck chairs and beer….

Tess wrote a super blog post this week (15 Taper Commandments)- which reminds me, I need to go to bed a bit earlier. She also linked to a previous post (You Are Ready) which made me tear up a bit.

I think I am ready. I know I am ready. I want it to be over. I want to enjoy every second. Why did I sign up for this again?

How do you calm the pre-race nerves?

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16 thoughts on “Now and then

  1. I honestly don’t think you ever feel fully prepared…whether you’ve run one marathon, ten or a hundred. I always feel completely in awe of the 100 Marathon Club people I see at races, but even they aren’t immune to pre-race jitters and nerves.

    All you can do is your best, and I think you’ve trained extremely well. You had so much going against you the first time, and the general rule of starting out conservatively and picking things up if you feel good would probably be the best way to sort out your pacing concerns. I do believe you’re underestimating yourself though.

    As for clothing, can you have a throwaway layer? If not, then I’d always err on the side of being cooler rather than too hot, as the latter is far more likely and apt to do damage in the later miles, and touch-wood there generally isn’t much truly cold weather around at this time of year.

    Don’t doubt yourself!!!

    • Thanks so much- it helps to hear that. I know with other races I still get nervous, even though I have done a lot now, but the marathon is such a bigger thing than anything else- those last few miles are unknown!
      I am veering towards the vest at the moment and just being cold for the first couple of miles. I might look in my recycling bag for an old top to wear on the start line maybe.
      I also am going to stick to the pacing, and hope I feel OK at mile 20!

  2. AAGGHH exciting!! See you on the start line! I would wear just your vest btw, it’s been nice down here this week & although not quite t shirt weather, it would be if you’re running. Thanks for the mention too 🙂

    You’re ready. I’m ready. And yes, I totally want it to be over now! (But can’t wait to lap up every single second) 🙂 x

    • Thanks! 🙂
      Yes, I am pretty much decided on a vest- it was foggy and chilly this morning and I just wore a t-shirt and was fine- I don’t want to be too hot.

  3. I am so excited for you! Whatever you do, whatever your time, just enjoy it (easier said than done, right??)
    I think you’ll be absolutely fine to beat 5 hours. Race day is a brilliant thing with all those crowds, the atmosphere and adrenaline. I’m sure you’ll surprise yourself!
    My advice (not that I’m that knowledgeable in the area at all!) is to take the first 10 miles lovely and slowly. Soak in the atmosphere and enjoy it, it shouldn’t be hard at all at this point. Then take the next 10 miles a bit faster so it starts to feel a bit more of an effort. Then give it all you’ve got for the 10k (but obviously not blasting it as 6 miles is still a way to go!) Someone said (I can’t remember who), you should be like a rock in a river for the first bit with people passing you like a river, then the middle bit should be like a rock floating along WITH the river, and then the last bit let the river take you and pass all the other rocks – or something vaguely similar to that!? I’ve ballsed that up I’m sure but you get the picture I hope!

    • I have heard the tide analogy before- the first half let the tide go out as everyone runs faster, then in the second half the tide comes back in as you overtake people who slow down. I like the rock idea though- I shall think of that on Sunday.
      I will enjoy it I am sure, I am just at that time now where the waiting needs to be over and I just want to do it!!!
      Thanks 🙂

  4. Have you thought about taking a throwaway bottle with you for the first part of the course? For my marathon I plan on adding a nuun tablet to an old plastic water bottle and throwing it when done. I know I’m a sweaty runner and need a tablet to replace everything I lose during the race!
    You can definitely run a sub 5 for this marathon. You’ve had a great year of training and I’m sure it will all pay off on race day! 🙂 Most importantly though, make sure you enjoy it. Time doesn’t matter in the end. You run for fun, so make sure it is!

    • I have thought about taking an old bottle, but I don’t really want to drink too much in the first half- I find that once I start drinking I carry on, and then get tummy ache from drinking too much. Ideally I need Andy with a bottle and a nuun tab half way around but I am not sure it will be very easy to meet up. I will have one at breakfast so at least I will have some of the salts in there.
      Thanks for the advice- I am sure once it starts I will enjoy it 🙂

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