I could go for this kind of feeling mid-marathon. Just two more weeks 'til marathon #2. (photo courtesy Nike Women's Marathon)

That good kind of leg muscle soreness, I’m feeling it this morning after running 19 miles late yesterday afternoon. I was shooting for 20, and I’ll be honest that I’m frustrated I didn’t just push through that final mile. But the last thing I know I need is to be tough on myself—I’ve done enough of that throughout training for my second marathon.

I’ve mentioned before how different this second-time-around training has proved to be. Mostly, this is OK. Except when you realize a month out from race day that you haven’t logged nearly the number of double-digit runs you did for your first marathon. Panic began creeping in, even though I’ve known my goals are much different for the Nike Women’s Marathon, taking place in San Francisco in two more weeks. Still. I want to feel strong during this race. My mind took me to that dark place of, “What if I don’t finish?”

I pulled myself together. I knew I couldn’t cram in a bunch of long runs, unless I wanted to seriously injure myself, but I did want to feel better about this training. So I made a concerted effort, despite a stressful new job and the start of a new school year and loads of kids’ after-school activities, to remain on a consistent weekly running schedule. I’ve always known running brings me back to center, and it’s rang especially true throughout the past couple of months as I’ve adjusted to a decidedly more hectic schedule and job that while in my field (journalism), is entirely different from anything I’ve done before (teaching at the college level.)

This is what we do, though, isn’t it? We runners all have busy lives – often too-full schedules that make squeezing in a run challenging and yet absolutely necessary for our sanity. My story is every runner’s story. Just change the specific circumstances.

I definitely am feeling better after runs of 15, 17 and 19 miles these past few weekends. I do wish I had another weekend or  two to complete a couple more 20-milers, but it’s taper time. I’m going to trust the foundation of fitness I’ve built in the past year. These next two weeks I’m going to eat well, get as much sleep as possible (no easy feat lately, it seems, but I’m going to try) and simply Let Go. Let go of the idea that this race should be a certain way. I’m going to go with the flow, see where it takes me. And have fun. It’s San Francisco after all – with three girlfriends. I’m grateful for this opportunity.

And, perhaps this is just the mentality I need to have now. In just a short time, I’m certain my approach to training will change…yet again. If you haven’t been over to my Facebook page lately, I shared the amazing news last week that my application to the 2012 Boston Marathon was accepted! This news came after a long week of waiting and wondering if my time would prove fast enough. If you’re not familiar with the Boston Marathon changes of late, this year was the first year that race organizers had a rolling registration process. What this means is that your qualifying time determined when you could register; if you qualified within 20 minutes of your BQ time, you registered first. Then came those who qualified within 10 minutes, followed by the group I fell into: those who qualified within five minutes.

I’m looking forward to training for the April race, even in the snow and ice and icky weather. I think training through this last winter truly helped prepare me mentally for the most challenging parts of running 26.2 miles.

Fall race season is in full swing, and I’m excited for all of you who are running – please share what you’re tackling—and how your training is going.

Also: I’m planning to feature great places to run in Michigan – this will be a series of posts, hopefully on a semi-regular basis – and would love your help. If you have an idea for a specific place to be featured, please drop me a note!

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