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The Blur to Big Sur: My Marathon Training

April 20, 2010

Swiftly flow the days: SBS training logs

Usually, when I train for a marathon, the 12 or 16 weeks of training seems to progress at a normal pace. As in, each day lasts 24 hours, each week has 7 days, most months have four weeks, and so on. But not this time: I’m running Big Sur Marathon this Sunday, and the 12-week training has gone by in a blink of an eye. I swear Monday, February 1 was only yesterday, or at most the day before yesterday, when I did 45 Minutes of Easy Running.

I can recall many specific, confidence-boosting, endurance-building runs—90 minutes of attacking hills while laughing to a podcast of “This American Life”; an hour-long chat-fest on dark, rainy Monday morning with my buddy Heidi; the supposed-to-be-18-miler-that-became-20 as I ran in all four quadrants of Portland on a sunny Saturday—but they cascade on top of each other like dominos.

I can’t decide whether it’s good or bad training went by in a blur. I’m sad because I always feel I enjoy marathon training more than the race itself. On the other hand, at least the training seemed manageable. It didn’t take on a daunting life of its own, as it has with past 26.2-milers. I didn’t take the training in stride (pardon the pun!) but it didn’t become an onerous burden.

Now, amidst all I have to do this week, including finishing an article for Runner’s World, speaking to Phoebe’s class about writing a book, going out for happy hour with moms from twins’ preschool, and, oh, yeah, packing and flying to San Jose, I’ve got to eek out a few minutes to reflect on the work I’ve done. And build up my mental reserves so I can punch out a Boston-qualifying time (sub-4:00:59). Any advice, busy moms?

21 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2010 5:04 am

    breathe….even if you have to hide in the bathroom for 5 minutes, take 5 minutes each day to gather your thoughts and breathe without someone yelling ….mooooommmmiiieee!( and well my little guys yell that while I hid in the bathroom, but I just ignore them!) and then enjoy it all what a great week you have a head!! Good luck your going to Rock!

  2. April 20, 2010 7:55 am

    Wow! Good luck on your marathon this weekend! Make sure you take very good care of yourself this week! Eat well and sleep well. Enjoy all of the other activities you have going on, but take some quiet time to yourself as well. This week is going to go by very fast, I’ll be thinking of you!

  3. April 20, 2010 8:16 am

    You will totally ROCK BIG SUR, SARAH!!! I’m so excited for you. I think the best feeling about going into a 26.2 is knowing you’ve done the prep work. You have been such a huge inspiration to me and I will be sending you huge positive bursts of energy this weekend, but I know you’ll have enough of your own! It might sound cheesy, but this weekend is a victory lap for you. Relish in it! I thought about you again during this past Saturday evening’s 5k – two people in front of me for the majority of the last mile – I realized I was being POLITE! In a race! Ha! I knew I wanted to finish faster than them, so I passed them, much to their dismay. I would have totally regretted it if I didn’t just put the hammer down & go! So I went. Oh, I won my age group, so that was nice, especially after gardening all day! Anywho, get your tunes all loaded up, I-Pod charged, gels…speaking of, do you still favor Roctane? I adore caffeine Jelly beans – watermelon, it’s like medicinal candy…rock on, Sarah!!!

    • bowenshea permalink*
      April 20, 2010 10:59 am

      Mary–
      Thanks for all your positive mojo. You were SUCH an inspiration to me during my marathon last May. I thought about your “this is the victory lap” comment many times. Reminded myself of it last evening, too. I will draw on your strength (way to win your age group!) during the race. And, yes, Roctane. Favorite new flavor: Blackberry. Caffeine jelly beans: Brand??
      xo

      • April 20, 2010 4:20 pm

        Jelly Belly, can you believe it? “Extreme Sport Beans” I think the whole pack has 50 mg of caffeine…yum. Blackberry; I’ll have to find that one. Yum. Hugs to you from South Louisiana – you’ll do great.

  4. Tryna permalink
    April 20, 2010 8:33 am

    Trust your training and trust your body to do what it has trained for. Oh, and watch the video of the course on the website. I’m a visual learner, so knowing the specifics for the race on Sunday is really helping me. You’re going to breeze by your goal with absolutely no problems.

    Also, what really helps me is getting on YouTube and searching marathon finishes. Something about the cheesy music always gets me teary-eyed. And know that you’ve got a fellow Oregonian marathon mommy cheering loudly from the back of the course!

    Go Mommy Go!

    • bowenshea permalink*
      April 20, 2010 11:01 am

      Tryna-
      EXCELLENT suggestion about watching marathon finishes on YouTube. NEVER would have occurred to me. (Heck, and I’ll watch our RLAM video, which Dimity put together. Talk about getting teary-eyed! http://bit.ly/bq01tC)
      And I’m totally planning on watching the video of Big Sur. I am vowing to make time for it, yet I fear I’ll run out of time. I have a story due, so once that’s off my desk, I can focus more.

  5. April 20, 2010 9:04 am

    That is awesome that your trainig has flown by and that you have anjoyed it. I have enjoyed most of my training, although the 2 weeks I was sick and the 9 days I was at altitude were a little rough. These 16 weeks have not gone fast at ALL…I so wish my Marathon was this weekend I feel so ready..

    From a Mom who will be working 40++ busy hours a week, moving her entire household across town, and attempting to fit the last little training runs in the week prior to the Marathon… My advice and my Mantra…

    “Leave it on the Pavement.”

    All the stress and busy-ness of life cannot touch you once that race starts. You don’t have to be a Mom of 4 year old twins++, an Author on book tour, or a wife trying to keep your husband sane through training….all you have to do for 26.2 miles is RUN… and RUN as hard as your body will let you go that day. “Leave it on the Pavement.” And at the end of the 26.2++ when the clock is sub 4:00:59 you return to the Mom/Wife/Author busy-ness with a HUGE smile!! Do it Sarah!!!

    • bowenshea permalink*
      April 20, 2010 11:03 am

      Good advice, Mel. I will be re-reading all of these comments in the hours leading up to marathon weekend. Thank you. (And good luck with your move. We are both going to BQ, baby!)

  6. April 20, 2010 9:57 am

    Every time I race well, it’s because I feel confident in my training. It sounds like yours has gone well (albeit in a blur) and I think you should take that with you to race day. Best of luck!!

  7. April 20, 2010 11:03 am

    I’m so excited for you! And, uh, having just picked up your book, need I remind you that you’ve already qualified for Boston? You’re 3:42 is my new goal for June 19 when I run my next (and 3rd) marathon.

    In a nutshell my advice is this: LEAVE THE KIDS HOME.

    The easiest part of my only post-kids marathon was the actual marathon. My husband had to go to an old friend’s wedding and so couldn’t join me. So I loaded up my 2 boys and met my mom, sister, 2 of her 4 kids, my friend and her kid…. in Albany, which is about 4 hours from home. It was great fun to have everyone together but OH MY MONKEYS it was also stressful. Trying to get a good night’s sleep in a hotel room is usually easy for me, but my kids are not used to traveling overnight so they were tossing and turning and hopping in and out of bed with me and my mom all night. It was nuts. Then there were the usual behavior things for 3 and 5 year old boys…. (“WHY ISN’T THE MARAFON FOR FIVE-YEAR-OLDS!?!”) PLUS when it came time to drive to the starting line very early Sunday morning, we got completely LOST and my mom was trying to navigate me in her car with her Garmin but she had plugged in the wrong address and I knew we were going the wrong way but I didn’t want to be rude since she came all that way to support me and take care of my kids and….. AAAGGGH!

    So, I say, unless you spousal unit can make it to the race, kiss the darlings good bye and enjoy YOUR weekend.

    Needless to say, we made it and I had a phenomenal race. Hoped for a sub-4:00 and ran a 3:46:04… Amazing what training exclusively on hills will do when your race is flat as a crepe.

    Best of luck to you. Can’t wait to hear your results!

    P.S. I never watched Sex in the City but you know how people would claim to “be a Carrie” or Susie or whoever they were? I love Dimity but I’m SUCH a SBS!

    • bowenshea permalink*
      April 20, 2010 6:41 pm

      Oh, you better BELIEVE I’m leaving the kids at home! As I tell in the book, I took our older daughter (at the time, our only child) to marathon #3. BIG mistake. Now that I think about it, I took her to Eugene last year (she was then 7 instead of 14 mos.) but a friend came along and they stayed in separate hotel room. (thanks, joanne!)

      You ROCKED that flat marathon, despite the pre-race chaos! Kudos.

  8. April 20, 2010 12:21 pm

    Best of luck! In learning about you while reading your book I think you’ll perseverance and hard-work will pay off.

  9. April 20, 2010 1:22 pm

    Definitely pray. That’s my advice when I am overwhelmed by so much to do and so little time. You’ll do great; good luck!

  10. April 20, 2010 3:01 pm

    Sounds like you might also need to schedule in some breathing. Just to be sure you get it in. Thinking of you and sending you speedy, wonderful running wishes!

  11. April 20, 2010 4:46 pm

    Visualize, visualize visualize that jubilant BQ FINISH!!!

    What are you wearing, what do you see, what do you smell, all that stuff. Focus on it like a laser, leave your nerves at the starting line and do what you love to do RUN! Boston awaits you.

    You CAN DO IT!

    • bowenshea permalink*
      April 20, 2010 6:43 pm

      Thanks, Marcia, for your clear-sighted advice. This morning I was visualizing how I’d feel when (not “if”!) I BQ, but I’ll take it steps further and do as you suggest. Just turned in an article so now I can focus somewhat better. Well, after I figure out what to make for dinner and it’s, uh, 5:43 p.m.!

  12. April 20, 2010 9:13 pm

    No advice, but definitely sending good vibes your way! All that training is bound to pay off. 🙂 BTW I’m in San Jose and it’s supposed to be gorgeous weather this weekend!

  13. April 21, 2010 7:27 am

    Congratulations on smooth training ,and I can’t wait to hear how your race goes!

  14. sarah permalink
    April 21, 2010 8:49 am

    I am so excited for your big race! You have done the work and are ready to see it pay off!! I will be sending BQ love your way! Good Luck!

  15. April 21, 2010 2:26 pm

    It is going to be a beautiful course, and you are going to feel great. Enjoy every second of it. You’ve earned it.

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