October 28, 2008

4 Days. 21 Hours. 17 Minutes.

As always, I'm getting reflective in this final week of marathon preparation. In my typical personal drama style, I'm not arriving at the start line as trained, healthy and prepared as I could be.

I had two blow-off marathons where I didn't really train, but I trained pretty hard for the past two years in Chicago and both were a total disaster. The first, 2006, included a 3-month battle with acute ITBS that I bounced back from only to get hit by a car on my bike 4 weeks before the race. Needless to say, it did not go well. The second, 2007, was perfect from a training standpoint and I felt confident and ready for the first time. Then it was 90 degrees and I actually finished slower than the hit-by-a-car year. It was a disappointment.

This year I should have been my best. Triathlon training allowed me to lose 20 pounds and get into the best shape I've ever been in. My pace increased, I seemed immune to overuse injuries and I was actually enjoying it. But then I missed almost 6 weeks of training after my bike accident and I've only done 3 really long runs - a 15, 18 and 20. And just when I thought I was in the home stretch, I caught a terrible cold.

I am resting and being incredibly careful this week to get as close to 100% healthy as possible. I'm staying off the new bike, I'm not putting in any extra miles, I'm not swimming at the advice of everyone (chest congestion + swimming = not good) and I'm planning to run my remaining miles slow and easy.

Will it be enough? All I can do is hope at this point. I hope the weather is good. I hope my legs are miraculously fresh. I hope my chest has cleared by Sunday. And I hope I've done enough to enjoy this race even if my finish time isn't what I planned for. This race was the only thing that survived my accident so it means more to me than just finishing. Even though it's the last big race of my season, in many ways it is actually a beginning. I can finally put the accident behind me, get on my new bike and learn to swim again. All of the troubles of the past year will be a distant memory soon.

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