Sometimes people ask me why I continue to do marathons. I'm obviously much better at short-distance events, and they really can take a lot out of you.
Although cycling is my favorite of the three sports, marathoning gives me something I never get from long-distance cycling. Maybe it's partly my internal desire for more control. The other day, while running along with my Cycling Mentor, I was explaining to her that there's so much less to go wrong on a run than a bike, and that I know even if I have to stop to walk I will still move forward. On a bike, though, so many things can happen that are out of your control: your chain can drop; your tire can pop; your gears can fail you. And if you need to rest, tough. You gotta keep pedaling or you don't move.
And, while I also love to swim, I definitely don't get as much out of swimming, which my poor confused brain still - even after several hundred-thousand-yard years of drills and lakes and 2.5-mile ocean swims - STILL equates with banana daiquiris and pool boys and vacations.
No, marathoning is a spiritual experience for me.
Sometimes I start out the season hating the long runs and wishing they'd end; other times I start out hating my speedwork and just wanting to run long and easy. Sometimes certain muscles are weaker than others. There are always laughs; there are always tears. Actually running for 5 hours straight, especially through another city, is nothing short of transformative.
Every year that I am marathon training, I learn something new. Sometimes it's a little simple thing like how to lace my shoes; other times, it's something huge like how much more powerful the mind and spirit are than the body. I have learned that, while cycling is my social sport and I'd rather not ride alone, it is hard for me to run with others.
This year I learned what a real taper is. Usually my taper is pretty drastic (big reduction) and early (4-6 weeks out). This is partly because it's usually been forced by illness. This year my taper didn't begin until 3 weeks before the race, and each week my mileage only decreases by 2, 3, maybe 5 miles. So it doesn't feel like a sudden drop, but instead a gradual release.
Probably the way it was supposed to feel all along.
And now, since this has been a rather serious entry, let's talk about how excited I am that it's Friday.
I shouldn't be excited because I still have exams and a "long" run of 10-11 miles before I can do anything relaxing or productive . . . but I am.