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Long Run Brain.

31 October 2016

Well, we did it. BB and I did our longest training run of the season, a 21 mile jaunt through Rock Creek Park in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC. I didn’t pause our time for street crossings or pee breaks or anything, and we ended up at an 11:11 pace, which would make for a marathon time of 4:53. Take out a few minutes for pauses we won’t have to make during the race, and maybe we break 4:50.

I’m proud of the way I adapted my training to make up for the deficits early in the season. Saturday’s run was at a good pace for the distance we traveled, and it was 10 minutes faster than last year’s 21 miler, before the Marine Corps Marathon. So that bodes well. If we run Philadelphia a little faster than that, I’ll be very pleased. As always, my goal is to finish. But I’d like to be faster too.

So BB and I were discussing it, and for our April marathon, in upstate Pennsylvania, we’re going to try to do our training long runs at about a 10:30 pace, to build fitness for a faster marathon. 10:30 per mile works out to about a 4:40 marathon, which is a totally respectable time. Maybe someday I’ll break 10 minutes per mile in the marathon. Maybe not. For now, looking too far ahead feels foolish.

Right now, I’m in the taper. Three weeks of slowly dialing back the effort so that I’ll be fresh and uninjured on race day. Marathons are big, and it does well to prepare for them correctly. I’ve spent more mental energy on fueling this time, and figuring out how to approach the race from a nutrition and energy perspective. I’ve identified the right foods to eat the night before, the morning before, and during the race.

In some ways, I know that assiduously preparing all the details for a marathon that is going to take me almost five hours to finish is a little like spending two minutes lining up a putt when I’m already 30 over par. But that’s ok. I am what I am, and I am where I am, and I want to be ready to do my best, even if that’s not anywhere near as good as your best. I’m proud of me.

You have to be a little bit of a masochist, BB and her mentor say, to run a marathon. It’s true. There’s a lot of pain, a lot of exhaustion, and a lot of disorientation. “Long run brain” is this state of being punch-drunk for a good day, sometimes longer, after a run. I don’t know, physiologically, what causes it, but it’s real.

Saturday after the run, BB and I went and test-drove a couple of cars (I’m leaning toward a Subaru Crosstrek.). Then we stopped at a bakery and went home. After the elevator doors closed we realized we forgot to buy milk. BB started frantically punching elevator buttons, leading me to exclaim, “What problem do you think you’re solving?!” Neither of us could breathe for laughing, and then BB got off the elevator on the wrong floor. On purpose. Long run brain.

I’m fit for the race. Now I just have to stay fit for the next three weeks. And hope that ECC doesn’t erupt into flames and projectiles on election day.

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