First, thanks for all of the encouragement and congratulatory comments this weekend! Both Aaron and I ran Half PR’s yesterday at Rock n Roll Arizona! I’ll have a recap up in the next couple of days, but we were in full celebration mode yesterday afternoon!
But today we are back to business. The Boston Marathon is in 12 weeks, and training starts today (kind of…I will either do some elliptical at the gym this evening, or take a rest day since stuff still hurts).
Welcome back to Marathon Reflection Monday! MRM is something I started doing this past summer during my quest to BQ at The Chicago Marathon.
MRM is a way for me to take a hard look at my training progress every week. What am I doing right? What am I doing wrong? And what lessons can I take away from all this to make me a stronger runner both physically and mentally? Plus, I heartily encourage unsolicited (solicited since I encourage?) advice on everything from compression socks to electrolyte tablets. I’m so happy that other people have found this weekly reflection post useful, and I knew a few people have started posting their own versions as well!
So, Boston training. How did I get here?
Last February, high off of RnRAZ 2012, Aaron and I decided to sign up for our first marathon (well, Aaron’s first non-Ironman marathon). After analyzing my paces, I concluded that it was perfectly reasonable to train into a Boston qualifying time of 3:30 (twice my half time…makes sense, right?) on my first try. Go big or go home. I made my goals public on our first day of training.
Turns out, preparing to run a full marathon was a whole different experience than preparing to run a half marathon. I was emotional, I was grumpy, I was hungry, everything hurt all the time, and I got discouraged sometimes on a daily basis. But I pushed myself and kept the dream alive. Going into the race, I wasn’t very confident, but thanks in part to a flat course and perfect weather along with 4 months of solid training, I qualified with a time of 3:33:55.
Typically, Chicago falls after Boston registration closes, so I wasn’t expecting to run until April 2014. But in a very weird turn of events, registration remained opened, and I got one of the last spots for the 2013 race. Despite an initial emotional breakdown fueled by post-marathon depression, I am actually pretty damn excited and quite humbled to run what is considered the most prestigious road race in the world. And I’m a pretty big fan of unicorns.
So here we are.
I have opted to do a 12 week training plan, which is truthfully making me extraordinarily nervous since I’ve seen Boston training recaps popping up for the last month. I thought I’d have a better base established, and even though yesterday’s race was a little confidence booster, I know I haven’t been putting in the number of miles that I should be. It might not have been the best decision, but it’s too late now, so I’m going to have to make the most of the 12 weeks I have.
…I haven’t quite nailed down my training schedule yet (I have the excel spreadsheet open and I’m working on it!). Hal Higdon’s has a Boston Bound 12-week plan with two 20 milers and a two week taper, so I will likely use his long run schedule (starting with 14 miles next weekend) and use the Lavender Training Plan that got me to a BQ for all of the stuff in between. I am playing around with the idea of substituting one 20 miler with a 22 miler, and switching some of the back down off it weeks so I can run the Bataan Half in March.
My amazing husband has offered to train with me. He doesn’t have a marathon on his schedule, so he will be getting up and doing long runs on Saturday for no other reason than to be supportive. I am a very lucky lady!
I’m not quite sure how to approach making a time goal time for this race. I put a lot of pressure on myself last marathon training cycle, and looking back on my old posts, I realize that I turned all kinds of crazy when it came to hitting paces and missing workouts. I don’t know if I want to go through that again (or if you’ll want to read crazy Amy rants again). Plus, if I do decide that I want to run a 2nd Boston in 2014, I can “double dip” my Chicago time, so I technically already have a 2014 qualifier.
But that being said, I want to challenge myself and I always want to work to get better, so I would like to hit 3:30 (my original Chicago goal) in Boston. This means shaving almost 4 minutes off my Chicago time, or about 9 seconds per mile. I’m still incredibly green at the whole marathon thing, so I don’t know if that’s reasonable progress for a 12 week cycle.
Also, I’m worried about the following:
1) Weather. Statistically, this year shouldn’t be as warm as last year. But, yikes.
2) The late morning start time. All of the races I’ve run have been first thing in the morning. I’m worried about failing to nail a pre-race breakfast/hydration/bathroom routine that works for a 10:30ish start.
3) This little thing known as Heartbreak Hill.
I train next to a mountain, so I’m used to lots of uphill running, but this tiny hill at the very end of Chicago felt epic.
I’m always slower going uphill, so I’m worried that I’ll crash and burn trying to race the Newton Hills.
So, how am I going to conquer my fear of Heartbreak and shave 4 minutes off my Chicago time? I still don’t really know. Bu my training goals for the next 12 weeks include:
1) 4 days a week of weight lifting,
2) 6 days a week of core work,
3) 1 day a week of cross training (likely elliptical, spinning, or swimming),
4) rolling out my muscles and stretching every day,
5) eating completely clean 2 days a week,
6) practicing yoga once a week,
7) and remembering that there will be bad runs, that they aren’t the end of the world, and it is a waste of energy to frustrated or discouraged over them on a weekly (daily?) basis.
I’m not putting “follow the plan to an annoyingly exact degree” on here because I’ve come to realize that listening to my body is important, even if it means taking an unscheduled rest day. And I’ve proven to myself that I will push hard and strive to make the most out of each workout. But it’s all of the little things like core work and stretching consistently that I need to work on.
In order to stay motivated, I’ve established a reward system for myself. At first, I was thinking that I would indulge in a giant cookie for each week that I hit 100% of my goals, but then Oliver (which I pronounce Ol-eh-vah since he is British) reminded me (well, me and all of the other people who read his blog) that I’m not a dog and I shouldn’t reward myself with food. And um, I’d probably eat the cookie regardless.
So, I will treat myself to a pedicure for every 2 weeks that I meet 100% of my goals. I used to get pedicures all the time, but now I go maybe once a year (cheaper to do it at home), so I think this will be both motivating and rewarding since marathon training doesn’t necessarily make feet feel awesome or pretty.
So, here we go! Another marathon training cycle kicks off! I’ve truthfully been dreading the thought of ramping up mileage again, but the race yesterday reminded me that I love the race experience and I LOVE the feeling of crossing the finish line knowing that I’ve just hit a PR. The harder I work now and the more effort I put into becoming a stronger runner over the next 12 weeks, the more fun I’ll have at Boston.
And if you can’t have fun at a race with something called Heartbreak Hill along the course, where can you?