Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Winter Decision: Spring Run

You've got two options if you want run a marathon in Wisconsin: spring or fall. And if you'd spending your summer swimming and biking that means you do your marathon in the spring. Training starts now.

My friend Cathy, did
the half-marathon at
Rails to Trails. She also
was kind enough to do the
Running a marathon is no light venture, even if you do more walking than running--like me. I did the Rails to Trails marathon November 2009, on the Elroy-Sparta trail, a refurbished train track. The course was nearly flat. The setting was beautiful: wooded, a tunnel, a crispy day. I was mostly alone for long stretches. I felt good, kept to my goal pace, drank, snacked. But it was,... well, I was done in by the end. Couldn't find the spark to run more than a few dozen yards at a time during the last miles, I walked. Other walkers passed me. I walked some more.

Miles 20 to 26 took everything. I was tired. After the finish line I bent over and felt tears. I was done. I had nothing left. I'm slow, I averaged about 12:45 miles (that's about a 5:30 race) but even at that pace, there was nothing left in me.

That race included a hot meal. I ate it. I'm usually very-extremely reluctant to eat cooking other than my own - too much salt and dairy and sugar. That day my brain was empty with indecision, a sure sign of need of calories. I ate. Whatever they served I ate. I rested for an hour. And then I was fine.

My eyes now drift to the yard; it's got a foot or two of snow. The driveway is icy. The sky is grey -- greyness which can last for weeks between long nights -- it's not inviting. Hard to imagine the day in May when a marathon happens. Hard to imagine the hours of running in this weather to train. Hard to imagine 26.2 miles.

But to train up to it, now is the time to start. It's 16 weeks until a local half-marathon (Reedsburg VetFest). Twenty-three weeks until the close-by marathon I'm considering (Madison Marathon). So much can happen before May 29: injury, distraction, burn-out. And am I ready to commit to covering 26.2 miles, on foot, in under six hours?

There's a tri in June I'd like to do, and some open water swims to be ready for by mid-summer. Charity rides are all over by July and it takes time to get these legs hill-tolerant for biking. And I turn 50 this spring. A marathon may be a good way to celebrate. If I'm gonna do a marathon, now is the time.

Get out the Yak Traks, order a new pair of Brooks Glycerins, make an appointment to update my orthotics. I think it's time to start.


  1. On a recent morning, at 5:30 a.m., a 92-year-old woman was attacked on her jog around Green Lake. (we live a block from the lake) She fought the attacker off, and summoned help. Only turning 50, you say? You've got a lot of marathons ahead. Get those yak tracks on!

    Just wondering – do you do any of your training on a treadmill, or must it all be outdoors?

  2. I love hearing of strong, athletic women who know how to live! Thanks for the encouragement.

    I occasionally sign up for six-week memberships at the gym. Maybe I'll sign on for January and half of February in case of bad weather. But I do like getting outside: people ask me where I got my tan when really it's wind-burn : )