Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Fine Balance

Does anyone else feel like they are walking a tightrope during the last month of marathon training?  Walking that fine line between too much and not enough running/rest?

I am just four days out from the Newport Marathon and the last few weeks have been a real struggle for me.  I can't tell if my fatigue and exhaustion are simply due to low iron or if I'm just not cut out for back-to-back marathons and having to train so soon after a hard race.

There is such a fine balance between getting enough training and getting enough rest, especially when attempting two marathons close together.  From my schedule, it looks like I have been erring on the side of rest.  After taking a week off completely, I have run only 3 days/week in the six weeks since Boston.  That's nothing for a marathoner.  But I am also cross training 2 days/week and I am always tired.  Although I'm hitting (most of) my paces on my runs, they seem so much harder than they should.

I feel under-prepared for this marathon and, yet, I'm so exhausted that I can't imagine doing anything more than I'm already doing.

Honestly, I just have no idea what is going to happen on race day.  [Then again, when do we ever really know what to expect?!]  But there is one thing I know for sure and that is that I'm going to leave it all out there.  I have a goal of running a sub-3:30 marathon and while my 3:30:30 at Boston came very close, it's not close enough.

Boston was never my goal race.  When I signed up for Newport a few months ago, I decided that Boston would be more for the experience and Newport would be where I would push my limits.  And my plan still is to run it aggressively and see what happens.  I just wish I had a little more confidence going into it than I do right now.  My body is so tired that my confidence is beginning to waver...

So for the next four days, I plan to rest my body as much as possible and put my mind to work instead.  We have all heard the saying "Running is 90 percent mental and the rest is physical."  I am usually fairly strong mentally but can feel myself faltering as this fatigue wears me down.  It is time to kick this self-doubt to the curb.

Sir Edmund Hillary said, "It's not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves."

Nike said it another way:

Nike ad

While I'm focusing on my mental game and getting ready for Saturday, I'm also getting ready for a weekend visitor!  Kate and I met through our blogs last fall and immediately felt a connection with one another.  We share a love of

a sweaty long run with a girlfriend
a steaming mug of freshly roasted coffee
a soul-cleansing yoga class
an aimless walk through a farmers market market
a spur-of-the-moment dance party in the living room
a lazy late afternoon on the beach
an overflowing plate of vegan food
a beautifully written book
a delicious glass of wine and
anything funny that will make us laugh until we cry.

Despite the fact that we are also opposite in many ways -- as a single gal living in sunny San Diego, her daily life is much different than my married, mother of three kids life in rainy Portland -- we are both soul and sole sisters.

at the finish line of Boston...the day before the race

Anyway, Kate and I decided a few months ago to sign up and run Newport together.  She had never been to Portland and loved the idea of combining a marathon with a trip to Portland.  Our running times are almost identical and we had the same goals for both Boston (running for fun) and Newport (targeting around 3:25).

For almost all of my races, I am alone at the starting line and running by myself throughout the entire race.  Occasionally, my husband and I will run a race together but even on those days, he likes to inch up to the starting line while I prefer to hang back a little to keep myself from starting too fast.  And even if we were to start together, we always have different time goals.  Newport was going to be a first for me in this sense.  Kate and I would travel to the race together on Friday (2.5 hour drive from Portland), start the race together the next morning and, hopefully, run together for most or all of the race.

But as anyone who has ever undertaken marathon training knows, just getting to the starting line healthy and ready to run is a major accomplishment.  Never mind trying to get your friend there, too.

So, sadly, it doesn't look as if Kate will be running much of the race on Saturday.  Her body has been on strike ever since Boston and she finally had to give in to the demand for rest.  She's had a few good runs but even more bad runs.

Regardless, we are both still so excited for the weekend and all the fun it will bring.  She is looking forward to being my biggest cheerleader (my husband is going to stay in Portland with the kids) and enjoying the stress-free role of spectator.  And I am looking forward to her falling in love with Portland so that she will move here one day.

Somehow I have to convince her that this:

Forest Park in Portland

is better than this:

Kate on her fave running trail in San Diego

Wish me luck.

- Kristen


  1. Hummm... That San Diego run looks pretty darn good, but how can you NOT love splashing thru mud puddles in Forest Park on a drizzly day in Oregon?

    Your cheering section (which includes me!) love you no matter what happens on Saturday! And you know what's great about Newport?? The fact that the run is Saturday, not Sunday, so you get to enjoy a little of the beach Saturday afternoon & evening before heading home.

    Enjoy it!

    1. Thanks, Jamie, for always supporting me!! I agree that mud puddles in Forest Park are so much fun. Nothing better than finishing a run and then realizing the back of your legs is covered in mud! :)

  2. Good luck Kristen. I'm so sorry to hear that Kate can't be running along side you. If it's any consolation my muscles were super fatigued after Boston. I have kept my mileage low and haven't felt ready for speed work. I'm looking forward to hearing about your race. May your 3:25 dreams come true!

    1. Thanks for the good luck wishes, Carissa. What is next up for you?? I'm thinking of doing some local half marathons in the fall.

  3. Hmmmmm - good luck on convincing Kate. Though I could be talked into moving to Portland in a heartbeat - so many good people live there!

    As for your race - you are right to listen to your body. You'll be surprised how much energy you'll have on race morning. You have a goal for race day (and you impress me and make me laugh at the same time - right now I would take ANYTHING in the ballpark 3:30 ish area and rest on my laurels but I DO get it) but always make sure you have plan B - the goal to enjoy and just to push as hard as you can. HOw hard that is you won't know till the day. Make sure to be kind to yourself in the runup to race day as well as during and after. Running 2 marathons in such a short time IS hard (I think - let's see!) and you've got to just give yourself major props for doing it at all.

    1. Petra, you always seem to have wise words to share with me! Being kind to myself is not something I'm very good at -- I tend to take my good health for granted until an injury pops up and reminds me that I'm not invincible.

      You should come visit Portland someday and we can run a race together!! :)

  4. I had no idea you had a blog, Kristen! Love it. I will absolutely follow it from now on. Is Newport this weekend? GOOD LUCK!! I would love to run a marathon with you someday! I will not cross the finish line at the same time as you, but we can start together! :)

    1. Thanks, Lauren! I would love to run a marathon with you someday, too!! I'm still trying to talk John into running one in Europe while you guys are still living in London. It would be so much fun!! John and Joe could skip it if they want and cheer for us along with little baby Maciariello. :)

  5. I am praying that everything comes together for you on Saturday, and that the rest is fully absorbed and the body ready. I haven't ever done back to back races, but I like how one race could serve as a training run for another.

    Hopefully there will be perfect race weather for you and Kate will enjoy all the sights and "feel" of the Portland area - a permanent running buddy would be nice!