I opened my fundraising page with an interesting marathon fun fact: When you walk you always have one foot on the ground. That’s not the case when you run. A 6 foot tall man, with 12 inch feet, running an 8 minute mile, takes about 1,250 steps per mile. Thus, over the course of one mile (5,280 feet), his feet only touch the ground for 1,250 feet and he is airborne for the other 4,030. The runner is actually in the air 76 percent of the time. So don’t think of a marathon as a 26.2 mile run. Think of it as 20 miles of flying.
I consciously avoid joking about how impossible the Marathon seems for fear that I may actually start believing it. Instead, I think it’s a good idea to keep the 26.2 miles in perspective so I’ve tried to quantify the distance in ways that make it feel more manageable...or at least more fun. For instance, it will take me less time to run from Hopkinton to Boston than my commute via the T on the morning of our last snowstorm. A more delicious perspective – a marathon burns roughly 2900 calories, equal to 674 M&M’s. That’s TOTALLY feasible. I could easily eat 674 M&M’s! However, we shouldn’t trivialize such a huge undertaking or the weeks of training involved in preparation for the big day. So, we forge on – and this week, that means crossing the halfway point.
This Saturday I’ll log 16 miles, preparing me for the stretch from Hopkinton to Newton-Wellesley Hospital. Seeing as this is my first full marathon, I feel a sense of relief every time I complete my long training runs, especially those beyond my comfort zone. I’ve put particular emphasis on the NWH mile marker, not only because so many of my friends will be waiting there to cheer me on, but because it’s the last stop before the dreaded “Heartbreak Hill.” I’m relying on the cheers of encouragement from the Newton-Wellesley crowds to carry me up and over miles 18 through 21. It’s amazing how powerful words of encouragement can be – sometimes they prove as powerful as the miles I’ve logged on my training runs.
You can’t discount the benefits of actually practicing though so I’ve made it a point this week to do a lot of hill work. I’ve taken it to the streets, particularly the icy slopes of my Eagle Hill neighborhood. On Tuesday, I dodged falling ice and piles of snow to sprint the steep hills around my condo. The good news is that I’ve managed to complete that leg of my training without seriously injuring myself. The bad news is that I’ve yet to thaw out. In an effort to stay warm but not compromise my training schedule, on Wednesday I decided to trial the “Hill Training” selection on the treadmill. You know the one – it looks sort of like an Aztec pyramid. I hung in for about 7 miles when my legs finally yelled ‘uncle!’ I’m walking more like a duck and less like a human tonight, but I feel tough having completed it.
Training for Boston these last 7 weeks has been really difficult. However, when I get discouraged or feel cold and tired, I remind myself that rest and relaxation come in 67 days...with a bag full of 674 M&M’s.