Long Runs, Tapering and Final Marathon Prep
I’m running the San Francisco Marathon this Sunday.
It sounds so oddly nonchalant as a weekend activity – like I’ve decided to watch a movie or have brunch with a friend. When I hear the words come out, it sometimes feels like someone else is saying them.
I’ve known this day was coming for a while, but it’s still surreal to have it finally be here.
The last few weeks of training since the Lake Chabot Half Marathon have gone pretty well. I followed the PR Race Plan Jason Fitzgerald of Strength Running put together for me and it’s been great. Building up the distance beyond the half marathons has been hard – especially early on, the last few miles of every run were really tough on my feet.
Over time, I’ve come to enjoy these 2+, 3+ hour runs and completing them have helped me gain confidence in my ability to finish. Here are my last few weekend long runs (with links to Runkeeper):
- June 17 – 15 miles in Palo Alto with Nir Eyal
- June 24 – 16 miles in Boston under hot but dry conditions
- July 1 – 15ish miles in New York under hot and muggy conditions with a friend
- July 8 – 13.1 miles in Redwood City (trail half marathon) with Ted Suzman and Jared Tame, lunch break, then 6 miles on pavement in SF, totaling 19 miles
- July 14 – should have been a 20 miler, but was feeling sick on Friday and only managed 20 mins of elliptical
- July 22 – 7 mile run in SF with miles 4-5 at faster pace (tapering down)
I was pretty bummed to miss the 20 miler. After having a tough long run in New York and splitting up the distance in the next run, I was looking forward to testing myself in my final big long run. Unfortunately, I started feeling pretty crappy starting Friday morning (aches, weakness) that I knew trying to push myself that weekend would have been foolish.
Tapering and Final Prep
It feels weird to run so little after running so much, but the two week taper is an important part of my training plan. I realized the marathon actually starts around 5:42 am for me, which means I need to get up around 4:30am. Since I normally sleep around 1am, I’ve been sleeping earlier and earlier to prepare my body for this early morning race.
I also got some last minute gear for the race:
- a Camelbak water bottle with a handle so I can just palm it
- Gu gels to keep me fueled up during the run
- a sweatband to keep my eyes stinging over ~4 hours
- new injinji socks to keep my feet blister-free
The most important preparation left is all mental. I have a good friend and former teammate who was planning to pace me for the 2nd half of the race, but I just got a call from him saying he might have broken his elbow in a biking accident so who knows.
Either way, I know that my mental game has to be totally on point for this race to be a success. I want to break 4 hours, which means running 9:09 mins/mi for 26.2 miles straight, having never run more than 16 miles in one go.
Intellectually I understand that most first-time marathoners never run the full distance before the race, and that their long runs are slower than race pace, but the gymnast in me, which is used to practicing something tons of times before competing, is a little thrown off.
Still, I have to trust that my training has put me in a good place. My feet getting hot/sore on long runs no longer seems to be a limiting factor and the SF hills are no longer intimidating after 3 races and a collective 33 miles run on far hillier trails.
All that’s left to do is to run my race. And I plan to do exactly that. Wish me the best and I’ll do a full recap after the marathon!
Photo Credit: HalfMarathons.net