I'm beginning to comprehend the reality of marathon training for Boston when you live here in the snowy northeast. What used to be relaxing, shorts and t-shirt mornings along the Charles River are now bundled up and uncomfortable runs while fighting headwinds, icy streets, and dwindling light. Where I used to be able to just throw on some shorts and a t-shirt I know have to find all my cold weather gear, check the forecast, and sometimes ramble though knee high snow to reach the cleared street on the other side of my work parking lot.
Once out there running things aren't so different, but they're different enough. Some days the old magic is back, but the weeks of pounding are starting to take their toll. My legs hurt a good chunk of the week after my long runs; either from tender IT bands or cramps in my calves. As my weekly mileage numbers climb and the long runs get longer I can sense that the body has limits. There are plenty of folks with higher limits than mine, but it'll take me a long time to build up to those levels, if they ever happen. There's running gear scattered all over the house, and the sand and salt from my running shoes is making a mess of the floor near my front door.
This is not to say that I'm not getting enjoyment from the training. I've run longer than I've ever gone in my life and the feeling of accomplishment with each long run is palpable. Running on the weekends on the marathon route allows me to feel part of a community of runners who all know about the first two paragraphs I've just written. They get it, and they're still out there on Comm Ave avoiding slush puddles and dealing with headwinds. I also got to buy a lot of new gear, which is always fun.
So we head to the end of February and I am juggling long runs with the few remaining skiing weekends I can have before my training schedule pretty much makes them impossible. But by then the weather should be warmer and the taper will be within striking distance. The marathon itself is too abstract right now, the training is concrete. But for now training is one foot in front of the other, which is what's going to get me through the marathon as well.