I have been on fire with the whole 26.2 mile distance. Starting with the Marine Corps Marathon (October 2015), I have now completed four marathons in about a five month period of time, and I still have one more to go (Dusseldorf Marathon, 24 April 2016) for the spring. Let’s not even get into my fall schedule, which has another four marathons and one half penciled in. Oh, did I mention that I’m already looking ahead to 2017 and trying to plan what races I will be doing then, too? All of this is much to my saint of a husband’s chagrin.
I’m clearly hooked. It’s been fun. It’s been hard. It’s been challenging. But most importantly, it’s been worth every training run, every drop of sweat that has rolled down my face, every blister I’ve developed and even the couple of toenails that have been lost along the way. With my first three marathons being run within a 90-day period of time, I’ve even qualified for the Marathon Maniacs, which is a group of people who love to go the distance. (Maniac #12339!) For the record, I’ve only achieved the lowest level, the ‘bronze’ level, as a Maniac, which means I have opportunity to level up. My goal is to hit silver in 2016. Yes, there area actually people who run 52 marathons in a 365 day period (or 30 Marathons in 30 different US states, Countries, or Canadian Provinces (any combination) within 365 days, or 20 marathons in 20 countries in a 365 day period), which puts you at the highest level of titanium.
Being a Maniac, I have earned the right to wear a Marathon Maniac shirt (image right), and of course I bought one, debuting it at the Little Rock Marathon. From my past races, I have seen the ‘love’ given to Maniacs along the course, both from other runners and from the crowd. People see your Maniac shirt and they yell encouragement, strike up conversations and single you out for that extra cheer. Being in the Maniac shirt, I was not disappointed. (There are other perks to being a Maniac, but the race day love is probably the best!). I certainly will continue to show my status as a Maniac going forward. The camaraderie within the group is strong, and it is nice to have a network of others who can help a newbie like me with my questions, thoughts on different races and simply sharing their own experience to help encourage me in my journey.
As I ran my long run of 13 miles yesterday, I was reintroduced to the heat of Cayman. When I started it was around 95-degres ‘real feel’ and fairly high humidity. Yes, it is only mid-March. I have a feeling this summer will be a doozy. As I ran along, allowing my mind to open and my body to relax as it settled into the rhythm of the run, I thought about how I am looking forward to the next marathon in April, and then also how much I am ready to take a short break from the longer training runs when the summer heat gets unbearable.
I realized a couple things about my initiation into the world of marathon running, including how I have felt about running multiple marathons with 1-2 months in between. If it were up to me, I would love to run one about every 4-5 weeks. According to the Hal Higdon training plan for multiple marathons, if I run marathons with only four weeks in between, my longest training run during the non-race weeks is13 miles. However, if you go more than four weeks in between, you need to up your miles to maintain your fitness. My 2016 marathons have all had seven weeks in between races, meaning that I have been doing weeks of 10-13-16-20-16-12 miles as my weekly long runs. While I no longer ‘dread’ the idea of a 20 mile run (and actually had such a great one in February that I wish I could have bottled it up and saved it for another day!), it is taxing on the body, the mind and on the husband who comes to support me. Thankfully, he continues to be my rock in this crazy race to ensure my fitness level stays where it is. I think though, that he is looking forward to the break of the summer (well, we’ll still be running, but just not as far, sweetie!), cringing only when I mention how I am thinking about a 4-hour goal for Chicago. If I pursue this goal, it will mean higher weekly mileage and harder training in the late August/September heat. But, I think I will cross that bridge when I come to it. For now, my sights are on Dusseldorf, enjoying my first European marathon and my first time in Germany!