Total mileage: 9 miles (plus marathon!)
When this post is published, I'll be in the middle of running the 26.2 miles it takes to complete the Boston Marathon. I'll be sweating it out somewhere between the legendary course's start in the suburbs and its finish in the heart of the city, right after a grueling climb known as Heartbreak Hill.
Spirit-crushing as an ascent at mile 21 may be, however, the real trial I faced this week wasn't the race itself, but the week that led up to it. Week 18 was the week I had to put myself on a diet. One of the reasons I love training for marathons is the healthy appetite the long runs give me, and over the course of the 18-week training program, I answered my hunger with grilled cheese, baked ziti, red beans and rice, and two different kinds of ham, not to mention a score of desserts, from lemon icebox pie to superlative brownies. But by this last week, I had to change the way I eat.
My final long run was on the Sunday just a week before the marathon—a mere eight miles—and my work-outs during the week were so short I barely broke a sweat. Hal Higdon, the marathoner who wrote my training guide, warns runners to be careful about their diet during the last week before the race to avoid weight gain. But an 11th-hour pound or two was the last thing on my mind—I was worried that too many heavy meals would make me sluggish on race day.