The Countdown Is On: One Month Until Marathon Day

Date: August 24, 2011 at 8:17 am- by Ali- Comment(s): 50

Holy crap.

Today is August 24.

The Hamptons Marathon is on September 24.

Let’s do some math, shall we?

I have one month until race day. One month from today and I’ll be stepping up to that start line with fresh legs, a calm stomach and a crookedly-pinned race bib.

I suck at pinning on race bibs.

In one month, I will feel confident that I can run 26.2 miles for the first time. I’ll have several hundred training miles behind me — some great, some fast, some horridly slow, some awful and some super ugly — logged over the course of four months.

Since I was selected as a finalist in JackRabbit’s Run For The Rabbit competition back in April, my world has revolved around one thing: running the Hamptons Marathon.

I knew marathon training would be a huge undertaking. I’d be under a strict training plan from the Godlike Coach Cane.

My weekdays would involve waking up at 5 am to get in some miles, and my weekends would revolve around my long run.

Friday nights are spent on the couch eating pasta, Saturday mornings mean hours in Central Park, Saturday afternoons are for napping and Saturday evenings are for getting to bed early. Sundays are for recovery runs and getting ready to do it all over again another week.

There have been some definite highs (hitting the 20-mile mark in D.C.) and some crappy lows (um, every race I’ve done since I started training plus that whole Crohn’s flare-up thing).

This morning, as I attempted a 4-mile recovery run — a very slow recovery run including a very pissed off and grumbly stomach — I thought about how things have been going for me and where I stand now that I’m just one month away from the marathon.

MY LEGS are tired all the time. Even after Monday’s total rest day, they were feeling exhausted yesterday. These major miles are taking their toll and most days I feel like my legs are heavy, not light and speedy.

I think I need to actually do yoga, like I told myself I would when training started.

Oops.

MY ARMS are not toned like they were when training started. I was so good about strength training, but now my weekly workouts are more running-focused and less anything-else-focused. Whatever. I’ll get those muscles back.

MY STOMACH is mostly OK. This morning was rough, but I blame myself for rushing out the door too fast without letting my stomach settle enough. I’m hoping that the Crohn’s flare I dealt with back in May and June is now behind me. I was supposed to get a Remicade treatment today but had to reschedule. I’m planning to get one more before race day in hopes of keeping the Crohn’s away. I’ve also warned/threatened all my coworkers by letting them know they are not allowed to stress me out before the marathon. Afterward? Fine. But before? Get out of my face. Stress = Crohn’s. No stress. No Crohn’s.

MY HAIR is longer and more split-endy than ever. I haven’t had it cut since training started because I’m poor and think spending money on haircuts is silly. New short shorts? Sure. But a measly trim for vanity? Don’t care.

MY SKIN is out of control. I’m breaking out like a 13-year-old boy. I blame the excess sweat that’s constantly seeping out of my pores.

MY PACE seems slower to me. It’s frustrating that I’m not regularly throwing down 8-minute miles like I was before training started. But as Coach Cane pointed out to me this weekend, I’m not training for speed right now. I’m training for distance. My pace is less important, especially since this is my first marathon.

MY FEET are disgusting. After the Fairfield Half Marathon, I had some toenail issues. I am pretty sure that I am currently growing three toenails on one toe on my left foot. It’s very sexy. And a deep shade of purple.

MY SNEAKERS are now retired. Several months of Bridle Path running did a number on them. I’ve never smelled anything worse. And they’re dark brown, which is not the color they’re supposed to be. Tomorrow I’ll start wearing my shiny new pair of Brooks Adrenaline 11s — the shoes I’ll run the marathon in.

MY PANTS feel tighter. I don’t weigh myself so I can’t tell you whether I’ve gained weight or not during training. But I can tell you that I’m regularly eating like a ravenous beast and that I definitely don’t think I’ve lost weight. Regardless of whatever the scale says or how my clothes fit, I can tell you with confidence that I’m in the strongest shape of my life and that I can kick the ass of many people I know. Bring it. Try me.

MY MENTAL STATE is debatable — but that’s nothing new. I’m still feeling incredibly motivated and excited about the marathon, though admittedly my string of frustrating races has brought me down a bit. I’m just hoping that since I’m going into the marathon without strict time goals or expectations, I’ll just be able to enjoy the experience without worrying so much about my pace.

MY FAMILY & FRIENDS have been so supportive. They understand my commitment to this race and haven’t given me a hard time about going to bed early, waking up ridiculously early and devoting my entire summer to training. Having them behind me has made all this much easier and more fun.

MY FUNDRAISING is a work in progress. I’m so deeply grateful and appreciative of all the donations that have come pouring in so far, and I’m honored to be running this marathon on behalf of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America.

The event at JackRabbit was a huge success, but I’m still holding steady in third place in the fundraising competition.

I know I won’t win the Hamptons Marathon. That would be cool…but also insane and impossible.

But I know I can win the fundraising competition and the fight against Crohn’s Disease. More “I Heart Sweat” shirts will be available for online purchase soon. You can also make an online donation to my cause by clicking here. It’s easy. And it’s cool. And I love you.

I can’t believe that I’m going to run a marathon in one month.

At this time last year, I thought marathoners were crazy, psycho athletes. I had no desire to run a marathon.

And then one day, I did want to run a marathon.

Now here I am — willing, able and eager to dominate 26.2 miles. My legs are tired. My heart is heavy. My foam roller is my best friend. My meals could feed a medium-sized village. My Garmin is my favorite accessory. My laundry is 95% sweat-stained workout clothes.

I’m so freakin’ excited.

TELL ME: How’s your training going? I know many of you out there are currently training for a fall race, whether it’s a 5K, half marathon, full marathon or beastly relay. How has training changed you, physically, mentally, emotionally?

50 Responses to "The Countdown Is On: One Month Until Marathon Day"

Keep that “no stress” attitude up, Ali! These taper weeks are a challenge all their own, but just as important as your long runs. Have a great month and remember that you can do this! Can’t wait for you to rock your first marathon!!!

WOW! Absolutely inspirational post. Good luck on your marathon. And please let me know when those I HEART SWEAT shirts become available – I want one.

Im currently training for 3 marathons and with one month to go, my head is starting to play games with me. I’ve had some great weeks of training and some nonexistant weeks. Since I’ve taken the time goals away, I’m feeling much better!

You’re going to rock the Hamptons! Keep up your training because you’re inspiring me to get ready for another full next year!

I’m actually finishing up training for my last big race of this season, a 10-Miler on Saturday. Yay! It’s going to be a bit emotional since I’m not used to ending my racing in August (more like October or November!)

So excited to hear about your prep! I’m doing the Bronx 1/2 on Sunday- my first race EVER! I’m equal parts thrilled and terrified.

PLEASE let me know as soon as I can buy one of those shirts! I adore them! :)

I’m organizing a NYC Blogger Playdate in late September- you should join! Email me for details! :)

I am eagerly anticipating the I <3 Sweat Shirts to be on sale online. I have some fall races (and long runs – I start training for my first marathon in 12 days!) coming up and I'd love to wear the shirt. :)

You are putting way too much pressure on yourself. Go out and have fun! Any time you put on the board is going to be a PR. This is the race to enjoy! Tapering is really the toughest part of the whole training cycle becuase you start to question if you have run enough, and done enough preparation. Just follow your plan and you will do great. You will cross that finish line and you will be so proud of yourself. One foot in front of the other and just keep moving!

Love this post!!! So many relatable feelings.
I cut my hair like twice a year and want to know a secret? I go to Supercuts or somewhere equally as cheap because I don’t see the need to spend more than 20 bucks on my hair. It’s up most of the time anyway : )
My skin is also out of control but I’m not sweating nearly as much as you are with the running- whats my excuses?!
Okay the pace thing… I think I wrote a post about this when I was marathon training. In a lot of ways, marathon running can slow you down. I hate to say it, but I think marathons made me slower which is why I’m taking some time off from it (but I do miss it!)
I also so related to your splits the other day- my races are like that too. I struggle with not going out insanely fast- its just something I’m used to doing with a sprinting mentality.
AND ONE MONTH!!!
So excited- can’t wait to hear how it goes- you are going to do so well, remember marathon running is just as mental as it is physical!

*Also we need to discuss the NY marathon. I think me and the on-the-run girls need to come down : )

Yes! Come down and cheer! I will be running but I will cab myself straight to 16 Handles afterward.

You are doing so great! Don’t let those races get you down, they are not important. You will enjoy the marathon because that is what you have been working towards. Lovely sunrise picture, that is a spot I know well. (P.S. Do you know if the barricade has been taking down?)

My hair is stringy and in need of a cut too. I too am poor and go to Queens for my haircut because then my mom pays, but finding the time to get there has been impossible!

I JUST HAD THE EXACT SAME FREAKOUT. OMG.
But you have been training. You’ll totally rock this thing.

Ali thanks for posting this, I’m starting to feel the same way! I’m doing the NYC marathon. I’m also a teacher so the stress/anxiety of school starting is also looming. I had a rough 12 miler this weekend, yet my best 10k run this morning. Training can be so fickle, but we’re doing what 99% of the population will never do. Cheers to you keep up the good work! I want a tshirt! :-)

Wow. One month to go until 26.2. You totally TOTALLY are ready, I can sense it. And that is just so freakin’ cool!! I’ve LOVED watching and reading your journey throughout, it’s totally inspiring and makes me want to (kinda) run a full marathon one day. Kinda. Still scares the crap out of me. But that’s neither here nor there. ;-)

My training is going well…now that I’m um, training *still* for another half marathon in two months. Who am I?? Two half marathons in two months?? Weee! :)

I LOVE this post! I can absolutely relate to every single one of those things in my life that are affected by marathon training, and somehow you express it better than I can ever explain it to anyone! Good luck! And ENJOY the taper…believe it or not, its the toughest part!
P.S. I want an I heart sweat shirt!! Looking forward to seeing them for sale on-line!

My training for the Philly marathon is going really well! Sometimes I get totally discouraged that I’m slow, exhausted, and can’t lift my legs up to get in bed, but then I get over it when I think that my next run may be my best ever. Starting tomorrow, I’m taking 2 weeks off for my honeymoon! I won’t lie…it makes me a little nervous that I’m going to lose my progress, but oh well. I’ll just deal with it!

Love this and love you! I can relate to just about everything you said. I’m so glad that you’ve become a crazy, psycho athlete :) I know you’re going to dominate your marathon!

dude, totally normal to have tired legs at this stage in training. and keep in mind that if you’re doing most of your runs in the morning, it can take awhile for your legs to “wake up”. my first mile or two is ALWAYS in the 9:15-9:30 range, about a minute slower than I’d like them to be. but eventually my legs warm up and it’s all okay. and coach cane is very correct – you’re training for your first marathon, not a 5k, so as long as you’re getting in the mileage (and you are!), don’t worry too much about pace.

in other news,
times i have worn my i <3 sweat shirt: 8
times it has been washed: 0

Yay 1 month!! The other races don’t matter. You’ll rock the one that does. The end.

I’m thinking that I’m going to start training for (hypothetical) training. IF (big if) I decide to listen to that crazy voice in the back of my head and IF (big if, again) the stars align, I’m thinking that I’ll need to be in better shape to handle training well. So since I have a bit of time I’m thinking I’m going to start working more on speed and strength- and at the very least hope that it makes me a bit more confident starting said hypothetical goal training. We’ll see how this goes…

I’ve loved following your journey to the marathon! I’m training for my first marathon too! Mine is a month later than yours. Training for a marathon has definite,y changed my mindset about fitness and I haven’t even gotten into the real serious, heavy mileage portion. :) (plus I’m starting my second masters next week!) thanks for sharing!

I am excited for your marathon for you too! I can’t believe how much you have progressed and how great you are doing and how good your stomach is even doing! that is awesome. You look phenomenal too, and I love that you feel so strong. That is such a great feeling isn’t it? You should treat yourself to a pedi, haircut and massage after the marathon. That’s all free right??

Can’t wait for the I <3 Sweat shirts to be available to us non-New Yorkers, I'd love to rock one during my next 10K in October! You're doing a great job and I'm sure you're going to kill it next month, it's all going to be worth it!

Such a great post!!! I’ll be reading and re-reading this until the Marine Corps Marathon. My first 26.2, too!

You have sucha great attitude Ali!! I love reading your blo!

Wow- I can’t believe this marathon is only a month away! I feel excited to hear all about it, and will be cheering you on from a distance while you run it!

I can’t believe your marathon is only 1 month away!!!! Training for my first marathon this fall has been a really interesting experience. Getting injured early on has really made me approach running differently. And mentally, I have had to come to terms with the fact that I won’t be able to run every mile of my marathon, and success will be measured in terms of finishing the whole thing. It wasn’t the marathon I dreamed about, but it’s the one I am now training for. And every day I get to lace up my running shoes and go for a run, I think about each step getting me one step closer to being healthy again. As much as I can’t wait for the finish line at Marine Corps, there’s a more important finish line right now: be healthy.

You seem so happy with your posts – so glad that your stomach isn’t acting up! Those milestone days are so exciting – starting a countdown is so exciting!

TELL ME: How’s your training going? I know many of you out there are currently training for a fall race, whether it’s a 5K, half marathon, full marathon or beastly relay. How has training changed you, physically, mentally, emotionally?

– I’m 1 1/2 weeks away from my second half marathon. I know it’s definitely going to be better than my first. First of all, I ran my first with a healing groin strain plus a nasty cold. I ended that race at an average pace just over 14 minutes. Now I’m slow, but not that slow!

It’s been 8 months since that race and I definitely know I am in better shape. I feel stronger in my core thanks to personal training, which helps keep endurance strong. I feel faster and lighter on my feet. My stride is even now due to having a physical therapist tell me – “You realize that when you stand casually you keep your right knee bent?” – and that knowledge made me focus on even strides in everyday life.

I can’t express how much stronger I feel going in to this race. I’m beyond excited!

My NYC Marathon training is going way better than anticipated, which I am very happy about. I’m hitting my goal pace in this crazy Texas heat, which has me thinking I will crush NYC (provided the Harlem hills don’t kill me– TX is also crazy flat!). I’m now less than three months away from the race and can’t wait!

I hate getting my hair cut, because I only go in for trims (trying to grow mine out again) and since my curly hair looks a lot longer when it’s wet, they always want to hack off a ton. Hrrmph!

One month! I can’t believe it. I am so excited for you!! I love how much you’ve learned during your training and how much you have enjoyed it. I have to say, I’m excited to have more than 2 months left in my training cycle. Well, most of the time :)

I’ve experienced a lot of the things you have during training – and am especially in ravenous beast mode lately. Let’s run sooooon!!

Woohoo! You’re going to do awesome. Your legs will perk up during taper, and you’ll have so much energy to get through 26.2.

I can relate to your post. I’m training for my first marathon and some days I can’t help thinking “what the heck was I thinking?!” All in all, it has been a good experience. I trust in my training plan, and I’m just aiming to finish with a good showing for me, which really comes down to finishing and still being able to walk afterwards. You should trust in your training plan and Coach Cane. Tired legs are apparently just part of the game. You’re tired now, so you won’t be too tired to finish at mile 23 of your marathon.
I don’t have Crohn’s but I really have a hard time running in the morning because I don’t wake up early enough to give my stomach time to get going in the morning. If I just wake up and run out of the house (like I do when I tried morning runs), I inevitably find myself looking for a bathroom within the hour … which is why I like running in the evening, even though I know you can’t get used to it.
Ali, you rock. You’ll do well at the Hampton’s Marathon because you’ll be prepared.

Hey Ali, I’ve never commented before, I don’t have a blog and I’m not fundraising. I’m, however, a fellow Newyorker who started running pretty recently. I ran my first 10-miler this past weekend, and feel it should have earned me a spot right next to Phelps and his the medals (not the bong – he can keep that).

I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your genuine take on the whole progress. You “say it like it is” and that’s extremely helpful to us, rookies. Thank you, and best of luck!

Super excited for your race! I’m currently in the process of training for my second half marathon, I’m with you on the feeling tired all the time front. In the summer I play a lot of Ultimate Frisbee 3 games a week and then tournaments every other weekend, plus some long runs thrown in there for endurance work and I’m wiped out.

Yoga definitely helps, but now that Summer Ultimate is over I’m looking forward to getting back to just running!

Also I run in Adrenaline 11s and I love them!!!!

Hope you do too!

How do you do it?! That was so freaking inspirational! I’m training for a half marathon in October, but I actually just started. Oops!

You are such an inspiration and I have loved reading about your journey to the marathon. I know you are going to KILL IT!
I might be looking back on this post when I train for my marathon in the spring:-)

When I got about a month out from my last marathon (May, so I remember the training all too well now), I felt the same dead legs and such. Around that time I also got anxious for it to “get here.” Everything you described is exactly how I felt before my last marathon!

My training? Hmm Its going well I guess its going well! Ive gotten all the “work” in, but haven’t really evaluated how its going. It seems so far out from the marathon that I can’t really make a judgement call if its good or bad. My focus more this time around has been on the mental side of things. In my last marathon, I had a negative attitude during. I still did well, but I wanted to do better, and believe it was my lack of belief (hahaha) that held me back. So, that’s more what I’m working on this time.

Be careful breaking in your new shoes!!!!! I developed stress fractures not doing it right :(

I wish I could bottle your optimism and take a shot of it before each run.

My legs have been really tired too, so I took an extended run break – ran Fri, walked (A LOT in DC) on Sat, and then did nothing until this morning. And yaknowwhat? They felt better than they have in months, and even though my pace was slower, I felt like I was flying.

My race is a half on 9/18….kinda getting nervous (mostly fixating on potty/belly issues…I’m sure you can relate. Please email me with any recommendations you may have!

I love your positive atttitude, Ali! That’s why I keep reading! :)

My marathon is on 9/11 and I’m freaking out a bit. I’m trying to BQ (even typing that is scary) and while I’m trying not to put pressure on myself, I know it’s there. Training has gone well. I have a 22-miler this Friday and then I’m officially on taper!

I’m double training! I want to PR Race for the Cure in October (it’s my 7th Race for the Cure – I need a PR!). I have my first Half in December – I’m excited! I’ve done enough 5 and 10ks, it’s time to step it up. Can’t wait to buy an I <3 Sweat shirt. =)

Currently training for more 5Ks and my first 10K in October. Usually, the most physical hurtle for me is burning cramps and breathing that is almost too heavy. Mentally, I’m scared that even though I can do 3.1 miles comfortably, doubling it will be impossible. I have to get over that mindset ASAP. Your blog helps =)

xo Marie
Chocolate & WIne

Last year, I was definitely in the same boat as you before my first marathon. One month out, you’re putting in major mileage, causing heavy legs and complete exhaustion all the time. Once your taper starts in a week or two, your legs will have a bit more spring to them and you’ll start to be even more excited and confident to take on the race!

I’m also starting to move into ravenous beast territory. Marathon hunger has no limits! I also find I gain a bit of weight through marathon training, from legs bulking up from the mileage and spending less time being active like taking walks, cross-training, lifting, etc. I think it’s interesting from a time perspective (free time=running, nothing else!) but also from an energy perspective. After I run 20 miles, I plop back down in bed and consume all the food in sight…versus perhaps going out and walking around and eating like a normal, rational human. :)

I am so excited for you to race! Sept. 24th will be here before you know it!

You look SO happy in that first picture, Ali:)
And through all these changes – you are going to ROCK this marathon! You’re commitment to it is inspiring!

I’ve been reading your blog for a little while now and I am totally hooked. You are more of an inspiration than I think you will ever know.

Oh and try Biotin for your teenage boy acne. It’s a B vitamin that is suppose to help support cell growth so it’s good for your hair, skin, and nails. It’s also suppose to be good for stabilizing blood sugars if you ever have issues with blood sugar drops while running. I find it does help with what I call runners acne. I also use witch hazel in the morning and night which definitely helps too.

I relate to so many of the emotions you shared in this post, and I’m sure many runners do!

Don’t beat yourself up about those races – I know negative splits are a goal, but you still got solid times in all of them. When the day of the marathon comes, I know you’re run smart :-)

As for the heavy legs, I think it’s such a common thing at this stage of the game. I think I felt that way in all of my marathons. This last time I made a REALLY solid effort to embrace the taper. Instead of waking up early to work out on no-run days, I did crosstraining at night. I think sleep is really important in marathon training so be sure to rest up this last month.

You’re almost there!

ONE MONTH!! My marathon is about 6 weeks! OOO baby!! This marathon training cycle is going mucho better then last time! I’m loving most of it. My legs are always tired and sore too but think about what they’ve been through!!! And my feet are nasty but no point in a pedi now!!

The countdown begins!!!

My first marathon is just a little less than one month away and everything you posted about (minus the Crohn’s part–sorry to hear about that!) are almost identical to my thoughts right now! At least I know I’m not alone in the fact that I feel like I run at the pace of a turtle and my legs get tired just from walking up four flights of stairs. Good luck with your marathon girl!

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