When we last left off, I was in the midst of my Transition week and still had a 16 miler on tap for the weekend. The good news is that I managed to eek out that last long run - albeit with a bit more effort than I was hoping for. Not that I couldn't hit my paces, which were all on target, including the last 6 at marathon pace. It was just getting over that last mental hurdle. At this point in anyone's marathon training, the consistent requirement for the mind to stay active on tough workouts is probably the biggest drain on the body. So knowing that this long run was the last hard workout kept me going.
For me personally, I am trying my best to "reserve" those mental efforts for race day, where the term "digging deep" takes on a new meaning, making a big withdrawal from the Bank of Marathon. Throughout my entire training cycle this go around, I have really devoted my mind to the task at hand. The mantra that has stuck with me most is "No excuses". Simply put - I want to be able to say that I have no excuses for my lack of effort leading up to this race. I've executed every workout as planned, hit my paces, and done all the little things (ie stretching, strengthening, etc) to ensure a good race. I have no excuses. I just have to execute on race day based on my abilities and it will all fall into place. At least, I wish it were as simple as that. The reality is that race day always brings new surprises, so I can't be totally ready for everything. But I can be as ready as possible, which brings me back to my mantra - "No excuses".
So here I sit, less than 2 weeks till race day. Last night, I ran my last real tempo workout - 7 miles in 53 minutes, with about 20 minutes of actual tempo work and easy running on both sides. Nothing special or all that fast compared to many of the other workouts I've gone through. However, it felt tough. I am in the midst of tapering, when seemingly easy runs like this that I had been doing in my sleep (not to mention 3x as long), can cause one to question your fitness. I know my fitness is strong. I don't need to "test" it and ruin the effect of the taper. And despite probably a handful more of these kind of crappy workouts that will follow, I will continue to assure myself that all is ok. It is just my body absorbing my training. I had been running 6 days a week. Last week, I ran 5 as part of my cutback in total volume from my max of 62 miles to about 45 miles (25% reduction). This week, I may run 5 again - or 4 if I feel like I really need it with some light cross training and end up around 30 miles (50% reduction). And then the last week is really just about moving the legs around with a few race paced miles thrown in to keep the mind happy.
So in these last 12 days, I can conclude with certainty that I've done the training - both mentally and physically more so than ever before. I am stronger than I have ever been and more ready for a race like this than ever. 12 days to go.
I have no excuses - I am ready to race