Reflections on Grandma’s

It was another morning back on the roads and I couldn’t have asked for better weather. While I still haven’t etched out a plan for the rest of summer and early fall, I am having fun just running light and easy.

My marathon schedule, which helped me prepare for Grandma’s last weekend, also includes a post-race recovery. One of the things I’ve worried about, and I’m sure other runners, is taking too much of a break after a big race. To keep running, though, it’s important to take time to recover.

The plan I’ve been using calls for amazing little running the week after the marathon: 3 full days off, and then only 20 minutes of running on the Wednesday, Friday and Sunday following the race. Since I’ve felt really good physically, though, I’ve put in 4 miles each of the last 2 days. I’m heading out again tomorrow for the same, and then playing it by ear on the weekend.

My thoughts are still filled with memories from Grandma’s Marathon this past weekend. It seems marathon weekend gets better every year, and certainly it ranks as a major highlight of the year for me.

So I started thinking about some of the highlights for me:

  • Seeing my buddy Matt and his family at mile 5. I was looking for him, but spotted a bunch of dogs in a yard. I was paying attention to the dogs when he called out my name as I passed by. Then I saw him and his wife again just after climbing Lemon Drop Hill, at mile 22. Their encouragement came just when I needed it.
  • A few times during the marathon, especially in the last 7 miles, I reflected on my training. As I made my way up some of the hills, I just kept thinking: “I own this hill.” It helped as I found myself powering up hills and passing people. At one point I reflected on my last long run with Tim, a 21-miler in the hills east of Hawley, and how good I felt at the end.
  • Mandy, a running friend, greeted me at the finish line. She had finished about 1 1/2 minutes in front of me, and I appreciated the congratulations at the end. Mandy and Tim helped keep me motivated, pushing me to stay on pace during workouts and get the most from my training.
  • The race didn’t come without some issues, but I overcame them mentally to focus on completing it. At several points, I felt muscle twinges – in both hamstrings – and a couple blisters on my toes. There were points when I thought my calves would cramp. Each time, I turned my thoughts to something positive. Attitude really goes a long way in running, and I think a positive outlook helped me focus on what I could do and block out negative thoughts.
  • Each race brings with it decisions: When and how hard to push, whether to back off the throttle, when to take gels or water, and a bunch of others. When the wind became a factor, around mile 11, I had a big decision to make: Run by effort, or focus on the numbers on my watch. At the time, I chose to run by effort, figuring I would have more energy in reserve later in the race. It turned out to be the right decision as I ran very even mile splits, especially in the middle part of the marathon when the wind was the biggest factor. Stuffing ice beneath my skull cap also proved to be a huge help in keeping myself from getting too hot.

Now, as I have another marathon of memories to carry me through the summer, I’m looking forward to running some trails and find new routes and adventures. Soon, I will be devising a training plan for the next marathon, essentially using my previous schedule to prep me for the next big race.

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