TITLE: Marathon On-Deck AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: September 30, 2005 5:16 PM DESC: Nothing ever seems to go as planned when preparing for a marathon... ----- BODY: My third marathon is a little over 36 hours away. As I have come to expect from this big, complicated world, my last week before the race did not go as planned. I did my last last 10-mile run last Sunday. I did the middle four to six miles at marathon goal pace (8:00 miles) with some slower miles to start and finish. That part was just as I had planned. Somewhere along the route, though, I took a pit stop and came into contact with some poison ivy. You may recall that I came down with an extreme case of poison ivy last year, which cost me nine days of training. Well, after poison ivy exposure, the body remains highly sensitized for up to several years, and inadvertent contact this year led to another bad case -- one week to the day before my race. This case hasn't been as bad as last year, but that's not much comfort. Almost no case could be that bad. This case is bad enough to have kept me from running all week long and has kept me in various stages of itchiness and pain throughout. It peaked on Wednesday but has been so in recovery. Now, a marathon runner usually trims his mileage back severely in the week before a race, but 0 miles is extreme. With no running, I haven't had much appetite and so haven't carbo-loaded very well. The good news is that I'm getting better, and at a rate fast enough that I hope to be able to run my race. At this point, I hope only to get better enough that I can run it, regardless of my fitness or ability to achieve my big goals. I realize now that I have been looking forward to the marathon for its own sake, as a pleasurable challenge. It's good to know that I have a purer motive than to PR or achieve a particular time. If I get to run, I will be well-rested. But will I be rusty? A little out of condition? I don't know. I am prepared to adjust my goals so that I can enjoy the run, so if I find that I'm rusty, I'll just run as I can. Then again, maybe the rest is just what I needed, and I'll be able to shake off the rust and pursue my goal of a 3:30 finish. A small part of me still hopes... It's good to know that I also have some drive to excel. The forecast calls for an overnight low on Sunday morning of 63 degrees Fahrenheit, on it sway to 81 degrees. That is warm for a marathon! Many folks will enjoy their runs less at those temps, but I don't mind running on warm days. This will be the opposite of last year, when the race started in the mid-30s and only reached 50 or by race end. Every year seems to bring new conditions. Whether it's weather or illness, that makes for different challenges. I won't be the only interesting fellow in the race. This marathon doubles as the US national marathon championship, so several elite American runners, such as 2004 Olympian Dan Browne, will be on the course. And I just learned that the Governor of Minnesota and the First Lady will run, too. (Both have complete TCM in the past.) If you find yourself on-line Sunday and feel the urge to know just where old Eugene finished, check out the race results on-line. Wish me luck! -----