Friday, May 16, 2014

After the OC Half Marathon, Jill and I hung over the fence at the finishing line, cheering wildly for the 85-year-old guy finishing the full marathon in about 3 hours and 40 minutes. Running smartly after twenty-six miles—that’s 26 EIGHT-MINUTE-MILES—he looked relaxed, ready for more. 

What’s preventing us from being that fast?” I asked Jill who’ll turn 50 this year. 

Jill’s answer, lost in the noise, might have been, “Our legs, hearts, brains.”

Everyone wants to come in under four hours. I did not start marathons until I was over 50 and my fastest time is four hours, 22 minutes. 

What if I just trained harder?

And there’s the problem—something called overtraining. 

Last week’s blog, I doubted my ability to run Sunday’s O.C. Half Marathon, explored staying home to rest my shin splints, didn’t even mention reoccurrence of my old knee pain. 

Did I overtrain, chasing that elusive goal of a fast marathon time for LA, exhaust myself, putting me out of the running for the OC Half? Maybe. 

The fastest marathon runners I know put in 50-mile-marathon-training weeks. 

Leading up to L.A., I copied them.  I liked the mileage, slow, and away from life’s obligations. People knew I was training and left me to my mania. In past marathons, sore muscles disappeared a few days post-race. After L.A. my shins stayed sore for weeks. Maybe I overtrained.    

Of course I also wrote my self doubts about whether I should race the OC Half with shinsplints, and moaned to my daughter about my depression over 12-minute-miles. 

“That’s the wrong attitude,” she said. “Forget finish time. Run and have fun.” 
“Great idea,” I said because it’s best to agree with my daughter.
“Baloney,” I thought. Have fun hobbling about? Protect my legs instead of give it my all? No fun.

In the meantime, I took the week off. 

Along the way, my shin splints disappeared, my knees repaired. Race day, I showed up, a changed women in legs and head. My legs liked the resting week. 

My brains are in my legs apparently because I ran the OC Marathon without a care. Didn’t run with a pace group, didn’t try for any special time and enjoyed the sensations of moving through the course with fellow runners.

The result: First Place, Females 70-74, time  2 hours 8 minutes. Eight minutes slower than usual but who cares. 

Now about that overtraining…This spring it got me first place in the LA Marathon and in the OC Half Marathon. AND, I have fifteen years to turn 85 and speed up as much as that champion 85-year-old who came in under 4 hours. Maybe I'll keep on overtraining.

Maybe I won't.