Usually when you sign up for a marathon, it's many, many months away. Many months before you even begin training. So far away that you can't even imagine being just days away from actually doing it.
So when you get to that point where you are just days away from standing on that starting line, it always feels somewhat surreal.
What's been just an abstract concept for so long - a carrot dangling out so far in front of you that you felt like you'd never reach it - is suddenly staring you in the face, and you realize that it's not an abstraction anymore; it's very real, and it's right around the corner.
And every time that realization hits you, your heart skips a beat, and you involuntarily smile a little bit, thinking about how exciting it is to know that all the hard work you've done is finally going to pay off, and in just a few days you'll be able to reap the rewards of all those insanely tough workouts, and all those early-morning wakeup calls, and all those hours spent running in the frigid winter mornings, all alone out on the road, or on the treadmill for mile after mind-numbingly boring mile.
So that's where I am at the moment. It's all becoming very, very real, and very, very exciting.
The festivities kick off tonight, when I head down to CT with some friends to go to the "Another Mother Runner" house party to mingle with the fabulous Dimity McDowell Davis and Sarah Bowen Shea, authors of "Run Like a Mother" and "Train Like a Mother."
I am so excited to get the chance to see both of them again (last saw them at Zooma Cape Cod in September), and to hang out with and meet a bunch of other mother runners, too. I went to the house party in Massachussetts last year, and it was a blast, so I was really glad to see they were having one close to me again.
After that, things kick into high gear on Saturday, when I'll be out volunteering at the Gansett Marathon, and as soon as my volunteer assignment is over, will be traversing the course with my running buddies to cheer on our friend Diane who's running. She is a total rock star, and I think she's going to have the race of her life, and I can't wait to watch her do it!
I had so much fun spectating in Philly, and I was really only able to see my friends for a few quick seconds as they headed into the chute - I can't imagine how fun it'll be to be able to drive around to a bunch of different areas on the course and cheer her on the whole way!
And Saturday afternoon is Expo time!!!! I'll be heading up with friends, and I'm honestly so excited to see the Boston skyline - just being in the city is going to be amazing, and I will be so happy once I have that race bib in my posession.
Sunday will be a nice, quiet day, though. A day to pack my bag, check and re-check that I have everything I need, pore over the course description one more time, eat more carbs, drink tons of water, and attempt to get to to sleep early.
Today was my final track workout - 6 x 400 - and it felt great! I felt like I could have easily done more. And Friday I'll do my final run - a 3-miler. I can't even remember the last time I ran less than 6 or 7 miles, so 3 is going to feel very, very strange.
But it's all good. It really, truly is. I'm enjoying the down time. I have plenty of pent-up energy, and I'm incredibly distracted and scatter-brained, and I can't focus on anything except you-know-what. But none of that is affecting me in a negative way. I love feeling the energy that's simmering just below the surface, because I know that I just need to keep it bottled up for a few more days, and then I can let it loose when I need it most.
And I love feeling a little bit lazy, and not waking up while it's still dark out. I love having all these hours of free time that would normally be spent running, or at the gym.
Taper is agreeing with me this time around - for now, anyway. I know the nerves will kick in by this weekend, but I'm ok with that, too - all part of the process.
Someone posted something to a Facebook community the other day about pre-race nerves, and I didn't even really give my response much thought - it just came out - and as I typed it, I realized that it was something I was going to remind myself of before every one of my own races - "Embrace the nervousness. It means you're on the verge of greatness."
That's how I feel right now, because even if I fall short of my ultimate goal, I will know that I have given this everything I've got - through 4 months, through countless training runs, and finally, through 26.2 miles. And that, in my eyes, is pretty great.
But I will be aiming for that 'A' goal of 3 hours and 30 minutes (or anything even a smidgen under that - even 3:29:59!). That's what I've trained for, and I'll be walking on air if I pull it off.
Anything between 3:30 and 3:35 will leave me a little more grounded, but no less ecstatic.
And if it just isn't my day, I'm hoping that I can still at least pull off a teensy little PR, and keep my time under 3:41.
But no matter the time on the clock, there is no doubt in my mind that there will be an enormous smile on my face as I cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon in FIVE days!!!