The Peak weeks -- which means the longest runs before the Marathon -- 20 miles but I did 21. Something about stopping at 20 that feels like bad luck to me. A crazy superstition I have about going passed 20, a mental hurdle so to speak.
Peak weeks are an important part in the Marathon training experience, it is the last chance to assess your progress and prepare for the race.
The long run just before the Marathon should be used as a dry run. Wear the clothes you are going to wear, wake up at the same time you would for the race, eat the same food, use the same supplements you will use during the race, etc. The reason -- well [pullquote_left]the last thing you need on Marathon day is a surprise[/pullquote_left] the last thing you need on Marathon day is a surprise. The worst surprise is stomach related. If you eat something new on race day you may not know how it will effect your digestive tract. No one wants to spend their race day in the blue boxes along the race route. Also this gives you a great time to really see where you are so you can set a reasonable expectation for race day.
Setting the expectation for race day will help you have an enjoyable experience on race day. If you started out the training period with one expectation but arrived at another on Peak weekend -- you can now reset. For better or worse, no surprises. For me I am at my pace of 9:38/mile which puts me at 4:12:27 for the Marathon, twelve and half minutes longer than I want to be. I am not giving up on my strive for 3:59:59 but I need to be realistic and safe come race day. And heck that is two minutes better than last year!
As I hit mile 20 yesterday, I thought "my god, I would still have 6.2 more to go!" doubt crept in! Upon reflection I feel pretty confident, my legs are sore and tight but I finished. I feel I have my routine for race day down pat. I feel prepared.
Honestly yesterday really took a toll. Normally after I run a long run I can rest and still accomplish some things in the afternoon. Yesterday however -- I just sat. I sat at the "peak" of training -- resting. I sat and reflected on what it took to get to this point. The hours of running, the explanations to people as to why, two pairs of shoes and countless Cliff bars. I sat in my chair and felt great, despite the soreness, despite my time and despite all doubt.
The next two weeks are about staying healthy and healing before the race. The taper. Some get restless and want to run more, me I enjoy this period. The build up, the anticipation of race day and excitement of conversation with other runners. Yes my friends I am going to take in this time to reflect and enjoy every moment before the race comes.