Anticipation of the Race! (aka Marathon Week Freak Out)

Woo hoo!  So Saturday is race day!!  Time to get my race face on and dominate this thing!

YEAH!  (cue Mint’s supah loud Girls on the Run “YEAH”)

I am calm, cool, collected and ready to knock out a big fat PR, right?

Ready to knock out a PR?  Check!  I really feel I am ready if things come together for me on Saturday.  More than ready.  I have had a really strong training season.  I feel confident.  And I feel oh so thankful to my coach for leading me to this point and to my family for cooperating with my crazy schedule to allow me to reach my training goals.   It really does take a village….

Calm, cool and collected?  Um, yeah, I am not going to lie = maybe not so much.  Normally, I take training in stride and don’t get too worked up about it.  Same for regular races (non-goal marathons).  No biggie.  But when it comes to my goal marathon race week, I get all kinds of FIRED UP.   Just ask my husband.  He came home Tuesday when I thought I was calm, cool, and collected and he said, oooh, you have marathon week freak out going on.

Calm Cool and Collected or Marathon Freak Out?

“Marathon Week Freak Out” as my husband so affectionately dubbed it is primarily excitement!  Part of getting ready for race day is mental.  So I am thinking about the race, achieving my goals, and looking back at my training.  Of course, I also have some anxiety over the race day elements I cannot control, such as the weather or my health (am I getting a head cold?!).   To me, this is logical.  By this point, I have trained pretty darn hard and diligently for 4-6 months for this one event.   With all my eggs in one basket so to speak, it is pretty natural to be, well, a little freaked out about it.

So with that out in the open, I’ll share one of my favorite pre-race rituals with  you, which is to spill my training recap and my goals.

To me, training for the marathon is as much of the journey as race day.  Each season really takes on a life of its own.   Without boring you with details, most of my training seasons have been self-guided following the Pfitzinger/Douglas programs.  Those programs rock and I have had great success with them.  But I have plateaued and hit road blocks with life schedules that won’t always allow for the mileage I want to do in them (I like hitting the 70 mpw programs).  I have also suspected I don’t need that much mileage to boost my quality and resulting times.  So upon recommendations from good friends, I hired a coach this season. He has been awesome.  Totally took me out of my comfort zone.  At first I doubted.  But it was awesome.

My Goals:  My “A” goal is to run a 3:25 marathon (7:50 pace).  This has been my goal for quite some time.  I’ve come *this* close three times, but have never made it.  My “B” goal is sub 3:26:12 (PR).  My “C” goal is sub 3:35 so I can get seeded in the B Corral at the Chicago Marathon.  “D” goal is just get it done.  Why so many goals?  Because if I know early on that my “A” goal is out of reach, I really need something else to reach for during those hard miles.

Weeks Trained:  23.  Yes, I have been training for this race since December 1, 2011.  This is my longest training cycle ever.  BUT, it didn’t really feel like it because the first few weeks were super low mileage.

Easy Paces:  I started out with super low mileage because this season was operation speed up my easy/aerobic pace.  You see, over the last couple of years, as I increased my mileage (and worked full time and was a wife and was a mom to 2 active boys), I was worn down.  And I read it didn’t matter what pace I ran so long as I got the miles in.  I started running slower and slower.  In good, easy heart rate ranges.  Coach nixed that quick.  All my “easy” runs were to be between an 8:45 and 9:00 pace.  Being the Type A person I am, it was hard at first to hit those ranges (and not go faster), but I did.  And when I started, my heart rate was pretty high for me.  But I got used to it.  Now I am often in sweet, almost recovery rate ranges.  My faster easy pace was a very drastic change this season.

Running by TIME not MILES:  This one was HARD for me.  I have run so many miles around here I can navigate you anywhere in this town by the .1 mile.  When I switched to 30, 50, 60, 180 minutes, WHAT?  It was a big adjustment.  But, I adjusted and now it is second nature.

Speed/Tempo work:  I used to do a lot of fast intervals and LONG tempo runs. Not this time.  My staple was 7:17 pace.  Over and over and in different interval lengths.  For months, that was my interval pace.  Twice a week, I had intervals at 7:17 pace.  I worried it wasn’t fast enough.   But now I could run this pace in my sleep.  Seriously.

Strength Intervals:  Whoa, what?  A few weeks before and during my taper, I started doing strength intervals, which were just faster (10-15 secs ahead of goal race pace).  These were actually awesome because when I would run marathon pace two days later, it would feel easier.

Marathon Pace:  I did some marathon pace miles in the beginning of training and a lot at the end.  At least once a week I was doing rather long intervals (5-13 miles) at goal race pace.  Combine that with my strength intervals, and I have to say I am used to marathon pace.

Tune-up Races:  This is my big downfall this season.  Usually I do several shorter races, but I logged a big fat zero this season due to scheduling and kiddos.  I did get in a half marathon at goal marathon pace (okay, I ended up running it slightly faster) and a couple of fun races with my kids.  But I haven’t laid it all out there.  That, my friends, will happen Saturday.

So there you have it.  Unfortunately there is no runner tracking at my race, but I’ll keep you posted.  Thanks in advance for any race mojo you send my way – I will be channeling it!


Mindi is a serial marathoner. She is a private practice attorney, wife and mom of two awesome (and super fast) boys, ages 12 and 14. She coaches Girls on the Run and is a big advocate of youth running.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Best of luck to you! You’ve certainly done all the homework and seem poised for that PR! Feel confident in your training and go get it!