Hoping for sleep, chills

With one week to go until the big day, there are just two items left on my “needs to happen” list in order to have a good marathon. One I can control, and one I can’t.

At this point, it all comes down to getting one final good night’s sleep and having favorable weather for next Monday’s Boston Marathon.

The final week is all about slowing down the routine, keeping the miles to a minimum and getting a little extra rest. This period is always tough. I enjoy running, and not having it limited. If I want to just run for an hour and 45 minutes just because I feel good – I enjoy that freedom.

But now I’m taking two or three days off, when normally I’m a six-day-a-week runner. I realize that holding back will benefit me come race day, but it’s way out of my comfort zone.

And now is the time when any little discomfort causes the words “oh no” to parse through my brain. As in, “oh no, hope that sore ankle doesn’t turn into an injury.”  Paranoia is more like it. I heard my cat sneeze about 20 times this morning, and all I could think was “hope I don’t catch that.” Like I could catch that.

And when I did run today (1 hour, 11 minutes), I tried to avoid every tree root and railroad tie I encountered. My training is basically over. More things can go wrong at this point than can go right.

Come Saturday night, I won’t be running a step, but what happens during that period is just as crucial as my 22-miler from late last month: the all-important sleep two nights before the race. This I can control; if only my daughter (Nina, she’s 7) cooperates.

Getting a good night’s rest two days before is so important. Mostly because few runners sleep well the night before – either they’re too keyed up or have to get up before dawn or both. With Boston starting later in the morning, there is a chance to sleep in a little, but a full night’s sleep is hardly a guarantee.

That’s why the sleep two nights before is so huge. You’ll probably be okay to have a good race without one good night’s rest, but if there’s two in a row, that’s cause for trouble.

My daughter loves to come in and get on the bed right after she gets up in the morning. She likes to talk, and sing, and be restless. I’m going to have to make a deal with her so she won’t come in on her way to the breakfast table. (We live in a ranch-style house, and our bedroom is right off the kitchen).

I’ll make sure she’s got her cinnamon bread (she has that every morning to start breakfast – EVERY morning) and a glass of milk ready to go in the fridge. I’ll even leave the computer and TV on downstairs if it means she’ll give me peace and quiet for Sunday morning.

Let’s see, Jake and the Neverland Pirates comes on at 8, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse at 8:30 …

If I can only sleep until 9, I’d be ecstatic.

Once through that stage, the last component to race day is the weather. Since April 1, I’ve only been checking the extended forecast, oh, about every 2-3 hours or so; I know how poor weather can wipe out months of hard and proper training. (See last year’s race).

On April Fools Day, I first checked Accuweather because it has 15-day forecasts – I didn’t like what I saw. Sunday the 14th said increasing clouds and 51 degrees. I’ve been hoping for 50s and cloudy. But Monday the 15th (race day) said 66 and warmer. Not good.

Usually the forecast from that far out changes quite a bit. As long as it’s a downward fluctuation …

And downward it has gone. Yes!

I started checking weather.com’s 10-day as soon as it became available: 61 and clouds. Then it was 59 and 60% chance of showers. All right, a little rain is okay, but a lot means clothes sticking to skin and wet, heavy shoes.

But now the forecast is for 58, partly cloudy and light winds. It’s been that way for a day or two. I’ll take it; wish we could lock that in, but there are no guarantees. Though it looks promising.

I just looked at a photo that someone that I’m writing a marathon story about for the MetroWest/Milford Daily News. It’s from last year’s race – when it was 88 degrees. The trees look like they about to sprout leaves. Yikes! We barely have buds on the branches now.

The pic reminded me of Boston 2004, when I ran and it was 85. That was brutal. I want no part of that.

The weather looks like it’ll cooperate. How about you, Nina.


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April 2013
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