I decided to take advantage of this today, and am really happy I did. I don't regret it one bit. In fact, the only thing I do regret is not just signing up for the marathon from the beginning.
Why? Simple. I put enormous pressure on myself to qualify for Boston at the MDI Marathon 20 days ago. I came, I saw and I kicked ass. But for this race, I didn't feel any such pressure and had nothing to prove. I had no real goals and was not in my usual competitive mindset. I just wanted to have fun.
And fun I had. I ran the first 12.5 mile loop with my buddy Chuck. We chatted through most of it and finished that leg in just under two hours. Not bad, given we were running under headlamps for a good chunk of it. Trails were pretty wet and slippery given the rain and fallen leaves, and a section of the trail that goes through a bog was underwater, so I wouldn't exactly call it fast conditions. Still, we finished the first loop in 1:57.
I noticed, however, that getting that first loop in under two hours was a touch harder than I had hoped. Then, about a mile into the second loop, I noticed my calves were starting to feel pretty tight, and the left one was threatening to cramp up. I began to think that maybe doing the drop down option was a logical choice, but would wait and see.
I ran along and not much changed. I hemmed and hawed about going on for the 50-miler or just settling for the marathon. Inevitably though, I would come back to the notion that I had nothing to prove with this race and the goal was supposed to be to just have fun. Just didn't feel competitive at all.
And let's face it, I'm pretty injury prone. A lot of that stems from trying to do too much. Sooooo.... What the hell am I doing trying to run 50 miles just 20 days after a marathon where I left nothing on the course? Yeah, totally cool with dropping down to the marathon. If I had continued with the 50, I don't think I'd be having much fun anymore, especially with no real goals in mind.
So, I wrapped it up with doing that 1.2 mile loop. In doing so, I saw my friend Danielle coming in just ahead of me. She did great! And, my good friend Neighbor Kate also completed her first marathon! She worked really hard for it and did great, despite being sick. Valerie also did great, as did George (50-miler) and Anne.
I was happy to finish the race and was in a great mood afterwards. Yep, right decision and no regrets. I really had a blast today. I was super stoked for my friends that did well, and was really happy to see and hang out with other running friends and acquaintances that I typically only see at races. Also nice to meet new folks, including one fellow (sorry, I forget the name) from Natick, MA who said he regularly reads my blog. Why, good sir, you do so is beyond me, but thank you and it was nice meeting you.
The future? Well, I'm going to go forward with my plan of extremely light running until January. This means just 15-20 miles a week until then, but for this week I don't plan to run again at all until the weekend. Bodies need breaks, pure and simple. I plan on focusing on really strengthening my core during this time by stepping up the ab and upper body workouts. Then I'll crank up the training again in January to prepare for Boston.
Ran 26.2 miles in 4:14:25 (9:42/mile pace).
Lower to mid 40s, overcast.
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, sleeveless shirt, Moeben Sleeves (half the time).