The last time I talked about marathon training, I was just a few weeks into it. Like a young, eager steed, I was.
My plan was to jump right into a Hal Higdon novice training schedule. This blog recapped my half marathon efforts.
Well, here’s what’s happened since then.
Distance running sucks. That’s what.
I mentioned my toes were throbbing after the half.
A few days after, here’s what my toe looked like. (Yes, this post is full of gross images.)
As I mentioned, the training schedule gives no shits about accomplishing a half. A week later, I had ten miles to knock out.
A week after that, I had a 15. Then a 16.
And this is the novice plan!
The ten was okay. Sort of like Couch to 5k, this Novice plan pushes you forward, then occasionally dials you back just to show you how far you’ve come. After the half, ten felt like a warmup.
The 15 miler was a reckoning. I’ve always heard marathoners talk about how their toes swell and why it’s necessary to buy shoes a half size larger than you usually wear. I always thought that applied to other people, because my toes never swelled on my eight mile jaunts.
My toes felt like they were going to explode out of my shoes at about mile 14.The index toes on each foot now had blood blisters under the nail. And my big toenail peaced out:
The version of Brooks Ghost I was wearing simply didn’t have enough toe space in them. I even tried a half-size larger, but they were still jammed together.
So before I pulled out the 16 miler, I bought some Altras. Compared to the Ghost, they look like clown shoes, with their giant toe area.
The 16 was much, much better. It helps that I ran on a cool, 45 degree day, and I learned to pop energy jelly beans every 45 minutes or so.
The 18 miler…well friends, that was an orgy of suffering.
I went through the same routine that had gotten me through the first few long runs. Good sleep for the two nights ahead, some carbs in the morning, Powerade to get some sodium in me to help with water retention, energy beans at beginning…
But then, the water was turned off.
See, I’m accustomed to my usual running grounds – the Jordan River Parkway – having a few water fountains turned on. I rely on them largely because I hit one about every two miles – roughly what I’ll hit in an organized race.
This day, the day of my 18 miler, my friends, they were turned off. And it effed me up something terrible.
By mile 12 I was beginning to cramp. My toes were swelling earlier than usual, and the energy beans were like eating chalk.
By the time you know you’re dehydrated, it’s too late, but I didn’t have much choice – I had to go off-route to the nearest water fountain, three miles away.
With my legs cramping from the calf all the way down into my feet, I hobbled and moaned. No music or podcast or sports talk can distract someone through this. The water didn’t do much either, that late in the game.
The last six miles were an absolute grind (which marathoners also always say), and my time went from 8 minute miles to about 14. I’d hobble for a minute, then run two.
RunKeeper makes a noise when your workout is done. And when you’re waiting for it, it never comes. But when it does, there’s no finer feeling in the world.
That is, until you sit down at your desk (this was on my lunch break, after all) and proceed to nearly pass out from nausea.
Goodbye, toenails. (More graphic images below, don’t scroll down, dude.)
Long story short, I carried water with me on my 20 miler, completed while I was in Tulsa last weekend. I had to stop and pee four times and never had cramps.
And while running close to sea level was a breeze (I maintained around 8 minute miles), I now know without a doubt that around mile 15 it just stops being fun.
But I’m almost done. I’m tapering now.
My marathon is in three weeks. I know it’ll be a grind. I’ve given up hopes of qualifying for Boston. At this point, I’m ready to just get through it, cross it off, and go back to running just enough to earn my beer and rum calories for the weekend. Next year, I’ll focus on triathlons.
Also, I traded in my Altras for Hoka One Ones. My form goes to garbage around mile 15, and I just don’t know if I’m ready for the Zero Drop yet. Meanwhile, the Hokas have enough padding to sleep on, if you feel so inclined.
Anyway. Next stop: Vegas, which kicks off with a Snoop Dogg concert. I have a feeling I’d rather hang out with Snoop after the run.