I began training for my spring races in January. Five months ago. Right before the new year and the new season, I ran the Rehoboth Marathon and took a three week break to rest and recover. Perfect timing. As the usual holiday craziness ensued, I felt no guilt or pressure to squeeze in rushed training runs on top of the holiday festivities. I happily tucked away my running shoes and spent extra time on my yoga mat to give my body some much needed rest.
Spring marathon training began and presented many exciting and challenging situations. I remember how difficult the first few runs after my hiatus following Rehoboth felt. My legs felt heavy and tired, and each run seemed increasingly difficult. And then, something magical happened. I slowly began to break in my Newtons, and I remember the five mile run where I fell in love with them. I realized how Newtons drastically changed my form and how the act of running just felt more natural. If I didn’t already love running before, I did now.
This was the first season that I tried my hand at writing my own training plan. I wound up injured and learned a lot about my body and training for a marathon in general. If I would have stuck to the plan that I originally wrote, everything probably would have been fine. The problem is that when I started to feel good, I got excited. Excitement led to me tweaking my plan almost every single day. Some extra miles here, an unplanned tempo run there, excessively long hill repeats on Honeysuckle Road instead of easy runs, and hitting the track for 800 repeats when I should have been resting led to inevitable trouble. Before I realized what I was doing to myself, I was running upwards of 60 miles per week, while breaking the golden rule of increasing miles and intensity at the same time. Clearly, I should leave the planning to the professionals, listen to my body, and rest when I’m supposed to rest.
I ran Boston, and I finally had a great day on the course. I re-qualified for 2014 and ran a strong race, but was devastated by the sudden turn of events. I finished, I was safe, but it really messed with me. I’m still trying to move past the whole ordeal. I just opened up my new issue of Runner’s World today, and it was dedicated to the tragedy that struck seven weeks ago. I only got about halfway through the issue and had to stop reading. The writers and editors did a beautiful job honoring Boston. I realize that as the premiere running magazine they needed to acknowledge what happened, but I’m ready to move on now.
I took a few weeks off because of that pesky injury that still remains a mystery to me. Maybe it was a stress fracture, maybe it wasn’t. What I do know is that I am following my instincts as I take on each new challenge. My instincts told me to go to the doctor and take some time off. I was never truly sold on the whole stress fracture thing, but I half listened to her advice. Being sidelined meant being a spectator for the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon, which was a humbling experience. Though I wished were among the field of runners, I know it was in my best interest to sit that one out and support my friends.
I ran two marathons without the blessing of my doctor. Running an easy pace at the Shires of Vermont Marathon gave me the opportunity to catch up with an old friend and gain confidence. By the time I ran the Buffalo Marathon, I felt as though I was almost back on track and paced a friend to finish and PR in her second marathon ever. It wasn’t exactly the way I imagined I would spend my spring, but I was still running and knocking states off of my list. I spent time with old friends, made some new running friends, and kept a positive attitude. In the grand scheme of things, what more could I ask for?
I thought I’d lost speed in my “time out” from running. Though I only took three-ish weeks off, my speed work was non-existent until last week, when I tried a few 800s. And then the Saucon to Boston 5K happened. I won, which was another confidence booster. My time was only a little slower than my personal best, which I haven’t touched since 2010 when I PR’d at the Pumpkin Pie 5K. Maybe I had a good day, or maybe it was because of the cause we were running for, but I still got close to my old PR, and that got me thinking (in my case, this isn’t always a good thing).
Which brings me to today. I have two marathons left to run. I have six days in between both races, which is the shortest amount of recovery time I’ve ever had in between races of that magnitude. I’m pretty set on how I plan to run Alaska. That plan hasn’t changed since I registered for it in February. I’m running it. I’m walking it. I’m crawling it. Whatever it takes to get across the finish line and not miss one single second of the course. I don’t know that I will ever have the opportunity to run a marathon in Alaska again and I want to take it all in.
The wild card is Vancouver. I know I said “we’ll see how I feel.” I’m still half telling myself that. There are a lot of variables to consider, including the possibility of some jet lag, for example. But something is telling me to race it. I’m afraid to say that out loud, and even more afraid to blog about it. If you know me at all, you know that I like to challenge the things that scare me the most. So here it goes.
If I try to race it, my goal time is going to be a 3:30. Originally, I wanted to run a 3:25 but I honestly don’t feel I am prepared to do that. I realize that I am feeling good, and my little tune-up 5K went better than expected. But I’m fairly certain that a 3:25 would mean I’m going to go out too fast and I’d end up burned out by mile 15 based on the time I had to take off for my injury. But a 3:30…If I can run it the way I ran Boston (perfect negative splits), it might be a possibility. Maybe.
I realize that it’s Wednesday, and the race is on Sunday. Today is not the day to be determining pace goals that should have been set during the first week or so of my training. But this is the hand I was dealt. Injuries and setbacks are all part of the game, especially when choosing to run multiple marathons in a short amount of time. I am aware of what I signed up for. I had a plan, and then I thought everything was off the table. Then I started running. So yes, it’s Wednesday and I’m setting pace goals for a marathon on Sunday. I’m not sure what would be worse: setting them and setting myself up for disappointment, or not setting them and going out to fast.
Sunday will come and the race will go on, regardless of how I run it. It’s been an interesting and successful spring season…stay tuned for some posts when I hit the west coast!