Next Stop: Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska!

As the week comes to an end, I’m finding it to be increasingly difficult to sit still at work. Not only do I only have three more days of work left before summer break begins, but I’m heading out west exactly one week from today. Final exams for my kiddos are winding down, and it’s been a relatively low-key week. I’m a computer teacher, and most of my students were exempt from my final exams. The pace of the past few days allowed me to squeeze in some runs and yoga practices in over my lunch break. It’s a great way end the school year to ease into my summer schedule.

I’m wrapping up my “marathon training” over the next two weeks and looking forward to one full week of rest and relaxation. It’s been quite the interesting ride this spring. Running multiple marathons in an attempt to achieve my goal of running a marathon in each state is not uncommon for me. Usually, I’m good for three or four 26.2’s in a season, but this was my first time attempting five of them in such a short time span. Four of them were (are) back to back weekends, which I’ve actually only done once before. That was about four years ago. In the past, I used to try to race all or most of them, but I realized very quickly that I had to pick and choose my target races. So when I began training for this round of spring marathons, I had a “plan”:

  1. The Boston Marathon – Run at marathon pace + 10-20 seconds per mile, maintain negative splits.
  2. The Shires of Vermont Marathon – Run at marathon pace + 20-30 seconds per mile based on the course elevation.
  3. The Buffalo Marathon – Pace Brooke to finish under 4:22.
  4. The Vancouver Marathon – Aim for a PR: 3:30 or better
  5. Anchorage Marathon– Run comfortably and take it all in. It’s not like I’m able to go to Alaska and run a marathon every year.

But as a famous Scottish poet once said, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” I was successful in achieving my goal for Boston, but the unexpected aftermath wasn’t what I’d planned for. My injury forced me to take some time off after Boston and rethink my spring goals. Although I would still love nothing more than to run a PR, my first priority is to just run the races and complete the states. I’ve been taking things one day at a time, one week at a time, and one marathon at a time.

Ultimately, I feared I would lose the endurance that I worked so hard for over the past year. When my doctor told me to “cross train like hell”, I listened. And it worked. I don’t think  lost much in the way of endurance, because I still completed Buffalo and Vermont (against the doctor’s orders) pain free. I took it very easy in Vermont, but still achieved my original goal in Buffalo. I haven’t done much in the way of speed training since April 15th until an attempt at some 800s this week. Also, I’ve done minimal hill training as a result of running on trails for the past two months. Trails provide a softer surface and help to prevent injury or aggravating existing conditions. So while I might not have lost much endurance, I may be lacking a bit in the strength and speed department.

I ran 50 miles last week. 26.2 of them were at the Buffalo Marathon, and the rest were easy paced recovery miles. This week, I did a teensy bit of speed work just to see how my legs would feel if I picked up the pace. I did a few 800 repeats on Wednesday, and some strides on my easy five mile run yesterday. Everything felt decent. A touch of soreness in my right ankle, but zero soreness in my legs. For the 800s, I was targeting half marathon pace but ended up hitting 5-10K pace instead, which was a pleasant surprise.

I’m following the Pete Pfitzinger “multiple marathoning” plan to make sure I don’t run too much or too little. Based on my injury and what my doctor recommends I know that anything over a few five milers each week is likely too much. But I’m still pain free, and I’m feeling good. Since I had to forgo my original training plan, I thought it would be interesting to run a “sample” of his plan from Buffalo through Vancouver.  Do I think it’s worthwhile to pursue one of his full, 12-18 week training plans? So far, yes. I’ve read most of the book and like what I see so far. The training plans are versatile and offer different options to fit the needs of different runners. I’ll have a lot more to say as my fall training begins and a book review will likely be in order.

So what’s my plan for Vancouver and Alaska? I’m going to wait and see until that very morning. In Vancouver, if I feel like I can push the pace, I will. If not, I’ll just try to bring it in under four hours. Or I’ll walk.  Whatever. As for Alaska, I’m still in it for the sightseeing and simply can’t wait to just be in Anchorage and the surrounding areas. I’m excited to knock another state off my list, spend time on the west coast, and be among some of my dearest friends.

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