Though pounding the pavement for a 26.2 mile run is a wee bit intense for me, I’m fascinated with those who feel otherwise — like the 50,000 who are racing this weekend in the New York City Marathon.
And while some — the uber runners — will finish in under 3 hours, most will spend upwards of 4 – 6 to reach the finish line.
That’s 4 – 6 hours of running!
So even with a deep pouch of physical + mental strengthening provisions + practices to call on — it’s still a crazy long run!
The high level of endurance needed to keep a steady pace is a given. It’s the ability to keep a fluid connection between the mind and body so neither one gives up –that’s what intrigues me.
My friend, Gina Dwyer, is one of the 50k who signed up for Sunday. I thought it would be fun to catch up with her to find out…how the hell is she going to do this?
EL: Why did you sign up for the NY marathon?
GD: Because I thought I wouldnâ€™t get in. Kidding.
I wanted to prove to myself I could do it, as well as inspire others to run. I knew entering would force me to train hard and push my limits. I also thought it would be a great opportunity to raise funds and awareness for a charity that is near and dear to my heart (BrightPink.org), all while getting in a good workout.
EL:Â What is your experience in running marathons and in running in general?
GD: This will be my first full marathon. Iâ€™ve been a runner for over 10 years. I have participated in a few half marathons as well as 5 mile races, 10kâ€™s, 15kâ€™s, etc. My first actual race was the Turkey Trot (5 miles) in Buffalo, NYâ€¦ and I was just as nervous then as I am now.
EL: What exactly are you doing to prepare your body– both workout wise and with food?
GD: The training schedule throughout the last few months has stayed the same, except each week there was a gradual increase in mileage per workout. I usually train during the day while my daughter is at school. On average, I run 4-5 days out of the week. One day, maybeÂ Iâ€™ll run 3-4 miles, the next I’ll run 7, then Iâ€™ll do a long run on Wednesdays (anywhere from 15-20 miles) and then take a day or two break. Then Iâ€™ll do another a short run, and then have a day of interval training. Then repeat.Â The only difference in my diet is that Iâ€™m eating more of everything!
EL: What about the mental aspect — is there any prep you can do to get your mind in shape for running the marathon?
GD: Thatâ€™s probably the toughest part. Iâ€™m not sure thereâ€™s a way to prepare mentally for the long run, except to take comfort in knowing that there are plenty of other runners who are feeling the exact same way.Â I was also told that the adrenaline, the scenery and the energy of running with 50,000 participants will get anyone through the NY marathon. In a previous race, I ran next to a man who was juggling while he ran the entire course. Iâ€™d love to master that! What a brilliant diversion.
EL: What do you anticipate to be the hardest part of the marathon?
GD: That last .2 mile!
EL: How do you plan on keeping your focus?
GD: I always run with music. Itâ€™s what keeps my feet moving. However, during the marathon there will be DJâ€™s and performers along the course, so I may ditch the headphones and soak in the city!
EL: What have you learned about pacing yourself as a runner?
GD: It takes me a few miles to settle into a comfortable pace, but once Iâ€™m there it allows my brain to relax, and to focus on other things such as posture, hydrating….anything other than running! Pacing is important, to exert your energy evenly throughout the course. Itâ€™s easy to forget, especially in the beginning of the race when they say you should start out slow.
EL: Â Based on the other races you’ve done, how would you describe the feeling of finishing, or accomplishing your goal?
GD: Each race is such a personal achievement, but I imagine finishing the full marathon will leave me feeling excited, rejuvenated, inspired and inspiring.
EL: How does this type of strength acquired from marathon training seep into your regular life?
GD: It teaches perseverance and trains you to be comfortable with discomfort. Training has also allowed me a lot of time to myself to meditate and think, so I usually feel clear headed and calm for the remainder of the day(s).
EL: Why do you think people get hooked on racing? Do you think you’ll run more marathons after this one is over?
GD: I think people get hooked on how they feel when they finish a run. Itâ€™s an extremely personal sport, so the only person you are competing with is yourself– which is why I am hooked. Right now, I am at the stage in training where I am tired of running, so my answer today is that I doubt I will run another marathon. But I think running a marathon is almost like giving birthâ€¦once the memory of the pain wears off, you do it again!