Marathon training has been really hard this time around. After six months of very limited activity my fitness is at an all-time low and two months of consistent training didn't seem to be making a dent. My long runs have gotten slower and slower and everything hurts. Last week was a step down week after successfully nailing 18 miles the week before (yet slowly and painfully). I did 15 when I was aiming for 16 because I couldn't bear another step. This week I had 20 on the schedule and was terrified.
I woke up at 5:30 this morning and made my way to Central Park. It was 61 degrees and breezy after a wicked storm rolled through yesterday. My leg has been hurting a lot, perhaps from last year's groin injury, so I started out easy. I immediately regretted the arm warmers. Even though they were lightweight they soon turned into really large wristbands that I had to put up with for 3 hours. I hit the first mile in 9:47 and was feeling great, breaking 10:00 has been a challenge lately. Then the splits kept dropping, some as low as 9:15, even with the hills of Central Park. I was thrilled, but assumed it would turn to crap at any moment so I didn't prematurely celebrate.
Suddenly I was 10 miles in and still felt good. How could this be? I didn't stop moving until just before mile 13 for a bathroom break thanks to the chilly temps and lack of sweating. I'd say the break was nice, except I accidentally peed on the back of my leg. Don't overestimate the stability of your legs after 13 miles of running even if you feel good. Aside from my bathroom error, nothing went wrong. I continued tackling the hills and my splits stayed consistent. I started feeling discomfort around mile 16 and by the 17th mile I had piercing pain in my hip from time to time but was able to keep up the pace. Even at mile 19 I sped up a bit.
I was happy it was over when I reached mile 20 in 3:11:53, but for once I wasn't dragging myself miserably. It's as if my legs finally decided to show up for a run. Maybe the fitness is finally catching up. Maybe the cumulative long runs are paying off. Or maybe the pound of pasta I ate last night did the trick. Who knows, but I'll take it. I was starting to lose hope for this race, but now I'm energized.