Goals are good, goals are great, goals help keep you straight.
I have fifteen days until I run my first marathon.
Taper depression is a thing.
For any given race, I have three goals that I strive for. As with any trio of related goals, I keep one as a near guarantee of success, another as a probable success, and a third that would be nice, but isn't as important as the other two. My first goal is always: Cross the Start Line. Shortly after 7:30, on 13 October 2013, I will be crossing the starting line for my first marathon. There will be roughly 10,000 people in front of me, and approximately 35,000 people behind me. I still need to pause and soak that in every time I think about it. Forty-five thousand people.
Getting to the start line is certainly a significant goal in and of itself. It will have been 18 weeks of formal training, building on a year of self-training. I have logged over 600 miles this year; a vast increase over the 100 or so I ran last year. Countless hours have been spent reading and researching about training programs, injury prevention, injury treatments, diet, carbohydrate loading, protein portions, energy gels, hydration methods, foam rolling, split tracking… the list goes on and on. I have probably spent more time thinking about running, actually running, or recovering from running than anything else since February 19th (when I received my registration confirmation - for the third time). It has certainly been a stressful strain on all parts of my life. I have had much less free time to spend with my son, and thus have had to defer a lot of parental duties onto my wife. I've missed being able to put him to bed most nights, because I have to be up early running. As of late, I haven't been able to chase him around as much, because I'm limping around on sore legs, hips, and/or knees (which is terrible ironic, since I started running because I was out of shape and had trouble keeping up with him). My work has suffered as I've been distracted with all the reading and researching. My social life has plummeted to nearly nothing, what with spending most evenings running and my Friday nights cut short due to early Saturday runs.
It has been a long journey, and now that I am in the final weeks, I am keeping a close eye on my mood. The endorphin that was released through 16 weeks of pushing my body is going to come in a small trickle, and runners have experienced extreme depression in the weeks leading up to the marathon. Being grumpy and irritable (different from normal, how?), depressed and extra stressed is something that I want to be aware of. And rambling - apparently rambling is also a part of this because that seems to be all that I am capable of doing. Just a stream of words typed out? ok? this isn't being productive.
Cross the Start Line
On October 13th, I'll get out of bed at 4:30, follow the same morning routine that I've followed each Saturday morning for the last 16 weeks, and roughly three hours later complete goal number one.