Bob Halloran: Marathon Man (Part II)

(note: Bob is going to provide weekly diaries as he prepares for the Boston Marathon. We’ll provide links to all of the previous posts in each new one, or you can click on the Boston Marathon tag below.)

Read Part I here.

Training for the Boston Marathon creates enough mood swings to make you believe you’re going through man-opause. One day I’m convinced I can do this. I’m exhilarated and happy! The next day I’m struggling to get through a five miler. I’m despondent and grumpy. All I can say is, I wasn’t ready for the bad days.

I figured once I ran ten miles it would be safe to say that I can run ten miles. Next week, I’ll run 11 or 12, and I’ll keep running further as the marathon gets closer and I continue to get in better and better shape. It made sense at the time. Heck, it still makes sense, but it’s a load of hooey (clean blog here). There are bad days in training – days when you’re legs are tired, the hills are tougher, you get winded easily, or your mind is weak. I have never experienced that before.

Sure, there are bad days on the golf course or the tennis courts, but that’s all about coordination or concentration. I assumed fitness was different. For instance, I’ve been lifting weights off and on since college. I don’t lift to body build or bulk up. I’m just looking to maintain a certain lack of fatness that I’m comfortable with. And it doesn’t matter if I’ve had two hours of sleep or nine cups of coffee, I lift the same amounts every time. Sometimes the bench workout can be a little more strenuous, but I do my lifts of 12, 8, 6, and 4 with increasing weight – every time. The same is true with the curls and rows, and whatever else I choose to do on a given day.

But weight lifting is all about short bursts. No matter how tired you are, you can certainly do two or three more reps. Your body remembers what it can do, and it just does it. Maybe it’s because I’m not pushing myself that hard to begin with, but when it comes to the running, I most definitely am.

Plus, running is all about long and sustained efforts. Even when you think, “I’ve only got a mile to go” – that’s a mile! That’s not two or three more steps. It’s more like 15-hundred more steps. That’s when the calculator in my head starts to prey on my resolve. It’s like one of those little devils that sit on your shoulder and mock you, or tempt you to quit.

“Well done, Bob. You just ran ten miles,” the little devil says. “Now, sit down and rest. Drink your water. Relax. Feel better? Now get up and run 16 more miles. That’s the marathon, baby. It’s the impossible times two-and-a-half, plus that extra mile. You, old man, are never going to make it. Have another donut.”

That’s about where I am today. I struggled Monday with the five miles, and no, I don’t believe the rain had anything to do with it. And I fared a little better today with my 7.4 miles. But on Saturday, I’m supposed to do them both. My first 12 miler, and not to be self-defeating, but I don’t see how it’s possible. I mean, I’ll make it. If I have to walk a portion of it, I’ll make it. But my goal is to RUN the marathon. I don’t want to walk across. I guess I’ll take what I can get, but I really want to run the whole way.

On the bright side, I’ve still got 11 weeks of training, and I get to eat everything I want. Seriously, you start running 25 to 40 miles a week, you can eat everything in the house. It’s a nice perk.

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