I have to say, this marathon is sneaking up on me much quicker than the last one. Maybe it's because of the stress fracture that got me off my training schedule for a couple of weeks. Maybe it's because I'm training in the winter this time. I'm not really sure, but there are only 3 months to go before I lace them up and try again, and that just seems like it's happening awfully soon.
What is different this time? Well, I'm definitely eating better, but because I've been sidelined, I'm not sure how it's working from a fueling standpoint. I hope to learn more about the effects of a better diet as I once again ramp up the mileage.
Another difference is that I know what to expect, and the fear of the race isn't really there anymore. Of course, with the injury I suffered, I'm a little scared that it not healing might keep me from completing the marathon. But I don't have the fear of the unknown this time, and in fact, I'm the one alleviating the fears of my new marathon teammates. Letting them know how it feels when you hit the wall, when you get that second surge, the mental games you play at mile 19 and when the tears hit.
The one thing that hasn't changed this time, though, is the camaraderie I'm experiencing with my fellow marathoners. This, by far, is the best part of committing to this endeavor once again just as it was the best part of preparing for the first one. There is nothing like the bond that forms when you are running on a trail out near North Bend in the pouring rain on an early Sunday morning when everyone else you know is inside and warm. And you know there is nowhere else you'd rather be. Nothing better than checking in on how many miles everyone did this week, how the bodies are holding up, what is the best plan to be following, and when we can all get together for another long run.
So even though time is growing short, I will enjoy every minute of every training run, every marathon dinner, every mega e-mail exchanged where we plan the rest of our Napa adventure. And I will be forever grateful for the teammates, both the new ones this time around and those that I shared that first experience with. You have made these experiences so rewarding, and it's because of you (and the future teammates that I convince next time around) that keep me agreeing to do these crazy things at my age.