(First, I MISSED NATIONAL BEER DAY! I mean, not really since we enjoyed some locally brewed La Cumbre Malapais stout yesterday, but I didn’t celebrate with purpose).
Holy cow! We are SEVEN days until GO time. Not quite close enough to determine race day weather with any certainty (looking like high 50’s with a chance of rain), but not quite enough time to “cram study” my way to a passing grade (at this point of every year, I start having nightmares about passing finals even though my college career is long over…for now…).
While I haven’t been doing a lot of “blog” marathon reflecting this time around, I have been thinking a lot about what mistakes I’ve made, what I would do differently, and at what point everything changed from “on track for a super PR” to “not so much.” Basically, I’m giving myself this one last whine fest, and then starting tomorrow, we are transforming to the intense mental workout that will hopefully carry me from Hopkinton to Newton and on into Boylston Street. Preferably on my own two feet as opposed to in an ambulance.
I made no secret over the fact that I didn’t love marathon training during Chicago. Crossing the finish line to my first marathon was amazing, but I was re-reading my race recap, and I state very clearly that I didn’t want to make marathons a habit.
But I figured since I got the chance to run the marathon of all marathons, that I should probably soak up the experience and push for a very respectable PR time. And I started training for marathon #2 in January.
I had pretty high hopes going into this race. For one, at the beginning of last training in June, I was at a 1:47 half. At the beginning of this training, I was at a 1:41 half, meaning I was starting stronger and faster. My first official run was 7 miles at marathon pace (about 8:10). My first official run of last training cycle was a 7 mile long run that felt absolutely terrible. And, there would be none of those dreaded 96 degree temperatures.
But my mindset going in was a bit different. For one, I didn’t have the goal to re-qualify because I already have a 2014 qualifier (not that it guarantees anything), so the drive to accomplish a specific time goal was significantly less.
And as much as I complained about training in the heat of summer, as it turns out, I’m a much bigger wimp when it comes to cold weather. During the winter I had to either run at night (dark and scary), or run in 10 degree temperatures in the morning, and a lot of times I just hung out on the treadmill. And when winter gave way to spring, my allergies took over (they still are) making breathing feel much harder than it should. And, when the time changed and there was daylight and warmth…well, let’s just say patio happy hour felt far more appealing than running. But then I would feel bad and try and run after happy hour. And running hard after happy hour doesn’t feel as good.
But all of that was easy overcomable.
Unfortunately, I made 3 sabotaging mistakes this training cycle that hindered my success:
1) Not letting myself completely heal after Chicago. During my last 20 miler in September, my calf suddenly started bothering me to the point that I barely ran in the 2 weeks leading up to Chicago. During the race, I was fine, but within hours after finishing, that little calf issue turned into a big problem. I couldn’t run for 3 weeks post marathon.
The calf issue was kind of annoying through RnR Arizona half training but nothing too bad, and I jumped into marathon training, even though it wasn’t completely pain free. Three weeks ago, it got to the point where running was impossible. And it hasn’t gotten better despite desperate efforts to fix it (I have session #2 with the sports chiro dude, so I’m hoping for good things). I run one day and have to take the next couple of days off, which hasn’t lined up with the training plan very well. I have lost speed and I have lost endurance. I am not in as good of shape as I was before Chicago.
2) 12 Week Training Cycle. For Chicago, I did 16 weeks, and it worked fine. I chose the 12 week cycle because Hal Higdon’s “Boston Bound” plan said it was ok, and because I wanted to finish the RnR Arizona half before I started training, BUT I also thought that I would have a stronger base built at that point. In the end, I ramped up faster than I was ready, probably not helping the calf issue.
3) Getting caught up in the mileage envy. Right at the beginning of training, I started secretly reading Boston training blogs and they all had one thing in common: significantly more mileage than I was doing. I panicked and started doing more weekly mileage than my plan (which worked PERFECTLY for Chicago) called for (see also, ramping up too fast above). This bombed fast. I don’t think I ever got a complete week in. I was either hurting or burned out.
I burned myself out on running and managed to get hurt as wel, which are really inconvenient ways to enter into a marathon.
I don’t want to get completely down because who knows what will happen on April 15th. I believe in the power of confidence and positive thinking, and I still somewhat believe I can will myself to a decent race time. And truly, even though I’m not in PR shape, I should still finish in about 3:45, which isn’t a terrible time by any stretch of the imagination.
I’m comforted by the number of people who emphasize that Boston is a “victory lap” and shouldn’t be used to PR. Stressing out over a time goal or an unsuccessful training schedule is counterproductive to the experience. Also, Meb dropped out last week due to a lingering calf injury which is a reminder that even elites have bad training cycles.
And on the upside of all of this, I have been much less stressed this time around. I haven’t been having marathon nightmares, and taper has been much more relaxing.
So, now that my marathon sadness session is over, we can transform to the mental workout and CHEERLEADING! Time to prepare for the pain and resolve to push through it!
Hope everyone has a wonderful week!