By Ambassador Steph Fraser

Less than five weeks people! Things are starting to get pretty intense over here. I’d say it’s time to get serious about the whole training thing, but five weeks out is probably a little late for that. Also, the fact that I have stopped taking my training too seriously means I’m not freaking out about marathon day rapidly approaching. Instead I’d really like time to speed up so that I can be done stressing over super long runs and always being tired. Oh and constantly being hungry, we can’t forget that part!

Now that I’m nearing the end of this training cycle, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting over the last few months of running. And I’m feeling pretty good about where I am right now compared to where I was in September. Those summer long runs were miserable and soul crushing, I lost all confidence in my ability to make it through training to even toe the starting line in January. However, over the course of the last 6 weeks I’ve gotten a lot more confident and might even be thinking about setting a time goal. I’d hate to rush that, ya know? Why would I even want to do that before January anyway?

I was lucky enough to con the Amazing Julie into running 18 miles with me on Saturday, December 6th, the day before she ran a full marathon. Yes, she is a special kind of crazy to agree, but I am so thankful she was able to run with me. Not every single one of those miles was fantastic, and there may have been a point where I said we had to stop running and reevaluate our life choices. However, after the run I was very happy with our average pace, and the relatively mild soreness from my legs. I do not fully understand how Julie managed to run a full marathon the next day, because standing around cheering for four hours was pretty draining.

I am the luckiest, or perhaps I’m just very wise when it comes to making friends, because Julie agreed to run with me again this last weekend for my scheduled 20 miles. I’m even luckier that she is still speaking to me after I planned an incredible hilly route; I’m not sure what I was thinking but we pretty much ran straight up (and into a headwind and barefoot in the snow) for the first 13 miles.  As miserable as I was, and no matter how much I complained and asked to take a walk break, Julie stayed positive for me. I’m not sure I would have survived this without her.

I have one more 22 mile run on the schedule, and I’m already lining up volunteers to keep me company. So if you’re in San Antonio on the 27th, I’ll be running for a long time and wouldn’t mind if you tagged along. And after that it’s taper time!

Though if we’re being honest, I think my brain has already turned the corner and started in on the taper craziness. Over the last two weeks I have thought about changing my hotel reservation no fewer than eight times. It’s not that I’m unhappy with my current reservation, but rather that I just can’t stop second guessing myself. “Is it too far away?” “Will I regret not having a free breakfast option.” “What if I trip on the way to the expo and break my ankle? How will I run!” So the upcoming taper should be full of laughs if this sort of internal dialogue keeps up.

Despite being unable to fully commit to a hotel reservation, I’m really looking forward to marathon weekend. I’ve decided that running a marathon isn’t challenging enough, so I’ll be running the ABB 5K on Saturday morning. I think we all know the real reason I’m doing it is to get two extra medals. The Amazing Julie will be hanging out all weekend with me and we’re going to run the 5K together at a very relaxed pace.

Over the next week or two I think I’ll probably try to commit to a time goal, and I might even go crazy and share it with other people. I keep saying “I’ll wait until my long run goes this weekend” before really deciding on anything. But now that I’m feeling a little better about running in general I’m ready to get this whole marathon goal figured out. Give me a few days and I’ll probably change my mind.

About the Author: Steph Fraser
A resident of Windcrest, TX, Steph is a runner because she loves to eat cupcakes. She started spending a lot more time in her running shoes after her daughter was born in 2011. She had previously run a few 5Ks, but never considered herself a real runner and laughed at the idea of ever running anything longer. She ran her first half marathon after a good friend convinced her that racing in July in Texas wouldn’t be so awful. Once she realized it was more fun to spend time with her friends running than sitting around drinking coffee, her free time started revolving around how many miles they could fit in before grown up responsibilities would interfere. The crazy thing is that after you spend a lot of time with runners who do amazing things on a regular basis, you want to be just like them. So she signed up for her first marathon, the Chevron Houston Marathon, in 2014. Before she even finished that race, she knew she would run it again.
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