The Big Easy …. not so much.

Posted: January 18, 2011 in Training
Tags: , , ,

I arrived in New Orleans on Monday afternoon for a couple of days of meetings with my operations team from work.  Typically we get together as a group each January, recap the year that was and look ahead to our initiatives for the coming year.

What we did well, areas of improvement and opportunities for new challenges and initiatives.  Sometimes the most useful part of the meeting(s) are simply getting the entire group together in one place and clearly defining our goals for the year.

What we are going to set out to do and how we are going to get there.

It is one thing to have aspirations, but without a concrete plan of attack and a “hard work” approach to chasing down those goals, I feel like you are simply setting yourself up for disappointment and failure.

Kind of reminds me of a certain sport I know of … I just can’t place it.

Ironically my final “hard week” of marathon training coincides with this retreat in a town many refer to as “The Big Easy”.  There are quite a few theories as to how New Orleans came to be referred to in this way.

Some believe it has to do with the rich musical heritage of the city and how there were many ways for local musicians to make a living playing in New Orleans while also studying music.  Another theory has to do with the relaxed attitude toward alcohol consumption, even during the days or prohibition, found in and around the city.

Still another possibility has to do with the relatively low cost of living compared to other American cities. 

Whatever the reason the film The Big Easy released in 1987 etched the nickname in stone and it will remain as part of our national vocabulary for some time.

As I looked at this week of training, the irony of my location was not lost on me.  There is nothing “easy” about this week.  In fact the 58 or so miles on the schedule will be some of the most difficult this marathoner has had on his plate in more than two years.

These training plans are designed to slowly build in intensity and volume.  You don’t really notice it at first as a few miles are added here, another few there.  A long run moves from 18 to 19 to 20 all the way to 22 miles on a given Sunday.

I can feel myself tiring even though my times and my runs seem to be improving.  If not improving, I am at least holding my own.  But there are aches in my muscles now.  My left Achilles tendon is a bit sore, my right calf muscle just a bit tight.

It is my body starting to fight back, to let me know that it has been pushed hard and is in a state or rebellion.

The good news is, it is working.  I am growing stronger even when I feel a bit weaker.  I am having to push just a little bit harder through these workouts to hold pace, to stay on target.  Again, that is a good thing.

Just 5 more runs this week.  8 miles, 10 miles, 10 miles, 10 miles and a final 20 miler.  Then it is time to taper down for the 3M half marathon and enter our 3 week marathon taper.

Let the body recover, heal and grow strong for race day.

34 days until go time.

34 days until we put it all out there one more time for Dom.

Less than 5 weeks to go and we’ll be standing among thousands of runners all with dreams of marathon glory.  There will be a lot of runners on Congress Avenue more talented than I am.  Some will be younger, some older, some stronger, some definitely faster.

In the end none of that is going to matter.  It is going to be me, my Brooks ST4 Racers and the clock.

I’m still on the fence as to whether we are truly ready to make the leap to a 3 hour marathon.  It may very well be up to the conditions of my body and the weather that day.  But just to have the 3 hour mark in the conversation as we zero in on our race goal is a huge accomplishment.  That would mean taking more than 22 minutes off of our Boston time less than one year ago.

I’m not sure exactly how this one is going to turn out Dom, I’ve got to be honest. 

But if you’re not too busy up there on February 20th, celebrating another Steeler Superbowl victory, I sure would appreciate you stopping by to look in on me.

You’re not going to want to miss this one.

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Comments
  1. onelittlejill says:

    Look, the only reason I am even slightly okay with Pitt beating the Ravens is because I know you hail from such areas. But man, Flacco is our hometown boy and I was bummed for him!

    Joe, in other news…you are going to kill this race. And I hope when you do, you take some time to look back at all of these posts- a real journal of all your hard work and dedication.

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