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.