I don’t know why I even bother setting marathon race goals anymore. They are rarely accurate. My s.o.b. traitorous calves have submarined my marathons lately. If I could find a way to remove them and walk around without my feet flopping around like two recently de-streamed trout, I would do so.
I won’t attempt to put together a full dossier of my calves' crimes against my running career. It’s well documented in my archives. Let’s just say that they are currently under house arrest but still full of insubordination. If the pain sensors weren’t transmitted to my central nervous system, I’d have pistol whipped them by now.
Though I espouse the value of positive thinking going into a marathon, I’m torn between visions of (a) small, thatched roof villages under air assault amidst scream of pain and fear and the phrase The Horror The Horror repeated endlessly versus (b) a heroic vision of me gliding easily to the finish with a new PR, calves joyously reunited to the Great Nitmos Cause, and my stallion ride up and away into the air leaving an adoring crowd below.
Really, it could go either way.
Obviously, I prefer the airborne stallion ride because, you know, a flying stallion. Awesome! I’d be a regular Harry Potter at a quidditch match* but a flying horse trumps a frickin’ broom.
Based on my training for the previous 5 marathons, I have posted faster training times at similar distances. The faster times have felt easier. The post long run leg discomfort has been minimal compared to the other training sessions. Basically, from 18 miles and under I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life.
Unfortunately, there are two problems. First, for those of you not "in the know", a marathon is NOT 18 miles. It happens to be 26.22. Really, the first 18 miles are just warm-up for the last 8 when the race really starts. If I could convince the race directors to let me finish the marathon at the18 mile mark and then go ahead and extrapolate my official race time out the remaining 8 miles, that would be really helpful. But they are sticklers for the ‘run the entire race’ thing. That’s a bit assholish, I thought, but, hey, it’s not my race to set the rules I guess.
Second, and more importantly, those damn calf muscles! I’ve had 5 long runs in between 17-21 miles. Three of them were great! Two of them ended with me sucking my thumb and blubbering the kind of blubber that involves streams of clear nose-cry snot running into my mouth due to some calf cramping. It’s never the cardio. I feel great. I can knock off 20 miles with barely a labored breathe. In fact, on my 20 miler a few weeks ago, I took up smoking at mile 12…finished 3 cigs by mile 16…decided to quit at mile 17…spent much of mile 18 in withdrawal before getting the monkey off my back for the final 2 miles. No, the cardio is fine. It’s all about the calves. Will they or won’t they revolt? (Yes, I’m aware "calves" could be humorously confused with, like, cows. I’ve made this joke before and won’t get sucked in just for your sophomoric amusement.) I wish the answer was in black and white. It’s spotty though.
So, here I’ve assembled, as promised, a Two-Pronged approach to my 2008 Detroit Marathon goals. If you were thinking ‘hey, he just can’t make up his mind how this will turn out’, you’d be right. See discussion on black and white calf revolution in the preceding paragraph. And (fist raised) Moo, Fight The Farmer!
Two Pronged Goals
Prong One: Baby Cow Goal
Let’s face it. There is a 50/50 shot another defcon 1 situation will emerge somewhere around the 20 mile mark. Despite my assortment of anti-cramping products I’ll be lugging around like a mule in the Peruvian mountains (i.e. Gu, Endurolyte salt tabs, voodoo amulet), the old familiar tugging and twitching may begin. If this is the case, my Baby Cow goal will simply be to beat my best cramping PR, currently set at 3:59.
Prong Two: Beardsley Goal
The man is a menace. He defeated me once on the slopes of Heartbreak Hill. I seek retribution. To return, I need a 3:16 or less. Minus calf revolution, I should be in position to challenge my 3:12 PR.
3:12 or less
I’ll be curious as all of you are to see how this turns out. I’ll be coddling my calf muscles over the next 10 days. They like deep tissue massages and walks on the beach. Yeah, they are wimps.
* That’s cool, right?
Update: I forgot about my own Race Goal Setting's post. You don't think I remember any of this crap I type, do you? Viper's recent post reminded me. It appears my Detroit goals fall into the "Fight or Flight" category. I even used the "two pronged" term in the description.