Marathon training begins

Well, actually, it began last week…and inauspiciously due to the aforementioned problems due to overenthusiastic racing. But it did begin.

I’ve selected my first marathon: the More Marathon in Central Park in late March, 2007.

I wanted to start training sooner rather than later (although if I decide I like running the marathon, I’d like to do a later one in the spring…possibly the Vermont City Marathon), and it seems like a good time of year to run (late March might be very cold, which I don’t mind, or coolish…which I also don’t mind).

Plus it’s five laps around the same loop in the park with 170 other marathoners. How much trouble can I possibly get into? Although normally the idea of running in circles doesn’t appeal to me, I rather like the idea of being able to gauge how I’m feeling during the different phases of a race. Plus, since I’ll be running it on my own, Jonathan can meet me at the finish line and snap a photo of my sorry self.

Here’s my training plan. Eesh.

A dash of plantar fasciitis, a pinch of shinsplints

Well, I learned the hard way over the past week or so that too much racing can cause some problems — at least on the left side of my body below the knee. I ran three races in a row over three Sundays: the Westchester Half Marathon, the Harry Chapin Run Against Hunger 10K and the Mystic Country 10 Miler.

The good news is that the 10 miler was my best race ever, in terms of relative performance. I finished in 1:24:04, and my goal time was 1:24:40. I wish I could have made it to the finish line just five seconds faster, but such is life. But that put me in the top 20% in my gender/age group, which has become a goal of sorts for larger races.

The bad news is that on my first few runs after that last race, I suffered bad pain under my left arch and along the ankle up to the front of my left shin. Yes, I managed to screw myself up.

But I’ve run for almost seven years with no injuries, and I didn’t want this to be the first. So I took some days off and did some very easy running when I got back to it. I did a seven mile run yesterday and the pain is almost gone. Yay.

I vow to stretch more often from now on. Early New Year’s resolution.

As for the Mystic Country race, it was a good experience. There was also a marathon race, which some elite runners won (people from Eastern Europe and Kenya, mostly). Enthusiastic spectators in some bits and well-staffed water tables. The course was 95% flat, the wind at about 4MPH. I ran a steady pace of around 8:28 throughout and picked it in the last two miles, running around 8:20 and then kicking it in the last quarter mile to the finish.

The post-race refreshments were outstanding: clam chowder, fresh bread and Krispy Kreme donuts! I haven’t had a donut since my fat days. I suppose one every few years is fine, especially after hoofing it 10 miles at (for me) high speeds.

And they gave out nice long-sleeved race tees with a simple logo on the left breast, sponsor “NASCAR” area on the back. I can actually wear this one!

And there’s a strange pleasure in getting up at 5:30AM on a Sunday and driving two hours to run in a race.

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