Last One, Fast One

Switching things up a bit this week – mileage/workout post coming your way tomorrow. Started drafting this last Thursday after my tempo run last week, and thought it needed it’s own post.



It is done.

I finished my last tempo run of the Hanson’s plan. I was nervous for this workout because of my smushed big toe and because of how hard Tuesday’s track workout felt. Tuesday’s fatigue likely had a lot to do with the 10 mile race from the previous Saturday. My goal for this tempo was the same as it’s been for the past 17 weeks: warm-up, 10 miles @ marathon pace (7:03), cool-down.

In light of tapering, I did the bare minimum for the warmup and cooldown. Full disclosure: I wanted to do less because I was tired. For the majority of my training (particularly in the later weeks), I’d been doing the maximum: three mile warmups and cooldowns. It seemed unnecessary less than two weeks out from the race to be logging excessively long tempo runs. I’d already done the work: the last month, I’ve logged 15-16 mile mid week tempo runs. Now is the time for less miles, and some final bursts of speed. Doing the bare minimum was still a 13 mile workout, but I felt like I should be toning down the volume at this point rather than kicking it up. Just as I’d done for the past 17 weeks, I headed to the Plainfield trail after work and laced up my sneakers.tolerate

The weather was ideal: 50s and overcast with the threat of a little drizzle. I wore shorts and a t-shirt. As usual, the warm-up was uneventful. At 1.5 miles, I picked up the pace and got to work. It felt strange picking up the pace so early in the workout. I wondered how the decreased mileage would change the workout. Would it cause me to start too quickly, resulting in burnout out? Would I have more energy for the workout?

When I worked with a coach last year, he had a saying that stuck with me. Last one, fast one. Whether it was a workout, an interval, or a race – whenever I complete the “last” one of something, I hear that mantra in my head. As I picked up the pace for my final tempo run, it was on my mind: Last one, fast one.

Not only was it the last tempo run (the workout I fear the most), but it was the last run where I had to ask my body to do something out of my comfort zone until the marathon. I knew that I had 17 strong weeks of training behind me. The fate of my race would not be determined by my success or failure on this one tempo run. Growth in this sport isn’t measured by a single workout; one workout doesn’t prepare you for a race. It’s the whole cycle that prepares you for a race. Progress and growth can be measured by looking at the entire training cycle as a whole – the sum of it’s parts.

I know this, but it didn’t matter. I needed to be on point one last time. It needed to leave me feeling unstoppable to end this cycle on a high note. I needed that one last confidence boost – one more runner’s high – before finally changing my focus. I needed to know that even if my toe was screwed up, that I could still do this. Don’t get me wrong – the successful workouts, the races, and the PRs along the way hold a lot of weight, but mentally – I needed this. Last one, fast one.

I nailed it.

My splits were: 6:50, 6:42, 6:46, 6:49, 6:48, 6:39, 6:45, 6:48, 6:45, 6:55 for a 10 mile time of 1:07:47, average pace 6:46. Bonus: I didn’t poop my pants.

Other than my two 10 mile races in this build, this was my fastest solo tempo run yet. I’m not going to tell you it was the easiest, but I did it. When I was hit mile eight of my tempo miles, I didn’t know if I had it. Usually at mile eight, I start smiling because I know I can do anything for two more miles, but this time I was running faster and had 17 weeks of fatigue on my legs. Then this song came on my iPod, and I knew I had it:

Play, rest, repeat, read exactly what is written on the sheet
“Don’t deviate, ” they say
But I will play what’s best for me
I’ll press the keys and pull the strings
Create a symphony that’s mine

This is going to sound super melodramatic (who, me?), but I had tears in my eyes during the last mile. The culmination of this entire process – 17 weeks of increasing volume and some of the scariest workouts I’ve ever attempted – was complete. It’s not like I’ve never trained hard for a marathon before. I’ve trained for races and made many comebacks – from injuries, running hiatuses, etc. Something about this was different. My whole perspective and attitude over the past 17 weeks has shifted, and it all came down to this one workout.

Since I was already teary eyed and looking like a huge dork, I went with it. I paused my Garmin right before the cooldown. I was alone on the trail, so knelt down and said a prayer. I was feeling a lot little sappy and I’ve been praying for 17 weeks that I would be capable of seeing this through. I felt it was only fair that I express some gratitude that in light of everything – the winter months, being sick and injured through the months of November/December, my recent toe trauma – that I saw it through. It is truly time to rest. This will be the shortest taper I’ve ever done, but it’s what the plan calls for. I can’t predict what will happen in Boston. I’ve put in the miles and the paces, and changed a lot about my lifestyle. I’m more proud of the effort I’ve put forth for this cycle than anything I’ve ever done before.

Prior to reading about other blogger’s experiences with Hansons, I was always under the impression that this was the “slacker” plan. Complete misconception. This training plan has been extremely enjoyable, but it hasn’t been easy by any means. It’s turned my world upside down for 18 weeks. I haven’t allowed myself much slack on diet and sleep. I know in order to have the energy to sustain the track and tempo runs, I need to eat well and sleep a LOT. I’ve been diligent about strength work, MYRTLs, hips and core. I’ve done 15 minutes each day since the beginning of February and haven’t skipped once. I think the concern for potential injury using this plan is valid, so it was important to be on top of all controllable variables.

Hansons stresses sticking to the plan as closely as possible, and I took this into consideration when I began training. For the most part, I did all of the workouts as scheduled: track workouts on Tuesdays and tempos on Thursdays. Other than a few weeks where life and races interfered and caused me to move workouts around, it always went down that way. I kept my Wednesday rest day sacred, even when I would wake up every Monday and think, “eh, I could just do this run on Wednesday.” Although my regular running crew runs long on Saturdays, I did a Sunday long run. The timing of the runs made a difference in how my legs felt, and if I did what the plan recommended I had a much easier time nailing the distance and the paces.

Once I’d followed others through the Hansons process and read the book myself, I was hesitant. The weekly tempo run lasted and increased in distance for almost the entire duration of the plan, and it scared me. Tempo runs have always been a difficult workout for me to do by myself. An 18 week plan with 16 weeks of scary tempo runs was really hard for me to get behind. As I began this process, my fears were confirmed. My first few tempo runs were not on pace. They felt horrendous, and I couldn’t imagine running 10 miles at marathon pace back in week 4 when I was huffing and puffing at a 7:24 pace for six tempo miles.

But it’s funny. In life, the things that scare me the most always end up being the things that bring me the most joy. I almost re-evaluated my goal pace but then it started to click. This plan and those scary workouts have gone from something I’ve feared to something I love, enjoy, and appreciate. I still have a healthy respect for the tempo run and would not approach one lightly, but I truly enjoy it. I can proudly say that I ran a 10 mile PR at a 6:33/mile pace, and did my own solo tempo run at 6:46/mile pace.

My grandmother used to have a saying: Nothing is hard when you know how to do it. In a sense, it totally applies here. These runs used to seem like an impossible task. They are still hard, but knowing how to do it and how to approach the task makes it less daunting. I don’t know if I can hold my goal pace (which is actually 7:03/mile) for 26.2 miles in Boston, but I certainly feel more prepared than I have ever been in the past to try because I know how to do it.

imagePhoto cred goes to Shawna for this one! Perfect timing!

One week from today, I will be toeing the line for the sixth time in Hopkintion. I am a stronger, more confident runner. I don’t know if I will ever run a marathon PR (sub-3:06) again. I think I can, and I hope I do, but there are only so many variables you can control come race day. I can say with absolute certainty that this plan has prepared me better than anything I’ve ever done before, and has made me feel better running than I’ve ever felt. I don’t have to run the race to tell you that I’ve already won.


60 Replies to “Last One, Fast One”

  1. I love that picture with the Hugh Laurie quote. I’m going to save that to look at before a tough workout myself- it’s a great quote.

    I’m really excited to track you and see how Boston goes, because it’s been fun following your training for it, I love how you incorporated cross training through pole as well as some races because a lot of people don’t race during marathon training (if I ever train for a marathon, I will definitely want to incorporate races bc that’s my social time). I’m also curious to hear your thoughts on Hansons post-marathon bc you’ve done so many.

    I know I just “read a blog”, but it does seem like you’ve been super dedicated with nutrition, getting the workouts in when it’s tough, and the little things. But don’t sell yourself short on the PR and say you won’t… you never know what will happen with race day, and you’re devoted. I was trying to run a sub-45 10K for over 2 years and finally did it last Saturday. Sometimes our bests don’t come on our schedule, but it comes in the end!

    I bet your best is yet to come.

    1. I love that quote so much too!! It really stuck with me last week when Shawna posted it. I saved it immediately. I can’t wait to read your post about the 10K – that is SO FREAKING AWESOME!!!! Congrats, Amy!

  2. I am so excited to see how you do in Boston! Seriously, I’m going to be the blogger creep hitting refresh on the live tracking on Monday during all my meetings work! It’s been a ton of fun following you this training cycle. It’s always fun to see someone work really hard for something and actually see the results of that hard work. Good luck!!! 😀

  3. Allison, I am so HAPPY for you! You are right about feeling you’ve already won since it’s really all about the journey and yours has been truly a successful one. I’ve enjoyed reading about your training – the ups and downs and you coming out at the top. Boston will be EPIC for you and looking forward to hear all about it. Have fun in Boston and best of luck to you.

    1. Thank you Elaine! There have been lots of moments of doubt but also some wonderful breakthroughs this time around. I hope Boston is epic – but this training cycle has certainly been pretty epic. I’m excited!

  4. Jerk. Because now I’m a hot mess, crying away with my coffee in hand reading the best post you’ve ever written. Maybe I’m a little melodramatic myself (I’m not even Italian!) but I can honestly say that I would not be the runner I am today had it not been for you believing in me. And maybe you believe in me because you saw your own running ability transform over these last few months so you knew mine could too. I just want to say that I am so inspired by your determination, your work ethic, your passion. It’s contagious AF. ❤

    1. Awwwwwwww ❤ ❤ You always say that I am inspiring you, but YOU inspire me. You have no idea. You push yourself and run all of the miles. On days when I did a tempo run and then got up the next day with 8-10 miles on the schedule, I would think of you. Suzy can run at least 10 each day, regardless of how hard the pace was the day before, so you need to get your ass out there and at least try. I think believing in each other and being strong, supportive women has helped both of us! Being strong is contagious AF – and YOU my friend, are a BEAST!

  5. You’ve definitely already won! You deserve to be proud of finishing a tough-ass training plan, keeping up with strength training, earning some awesome PRs both in races and training runs, and getting that final boost of confidence. I had a consult with one of the Hansons’ coaches when I did the plan last summer, and she said, “The feeling you’ll have at the end of the race is like nothing else. Everyone else will be slowing down, and you’ll be running strong.” She was right! I know nothing is guaranteed, but I predict this will be an awesome race for you!

    1. Thank you Jennifer! I love the words from the Hansons coach! I hope those words hold true for me. I have had that feeling before, when you feel unstoppable in the last 10K of a marathon and everyone else is slowing down. I haven’t felt that feeling in a marathon since I ran my PR in 2014, and I hope to feel that way again soon!

    2. Also, I am so confused but I keep trying to post on your blog but it’s not letting me! I was just reading your post about your outfits and workouts last week and you looked adorable. I am going using Chrome and I am going to try to open your blog in Firefox and see if that makes a difference!

  6. You’ve done such an amazing job during this training cycle. Thank you for sharing the experience. I wish you the best of luck in Boston and I can’t wait to hear all about it. I’m excited to try Hanson’s out for myself. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Alanna! I really enjoyed sharing my (sometimes very wordy) training throughout this cycle. It helped to keep me accountable and really is helping now. I’ve gone back and read most of my posts to remind myself of the journey. It’s been so fun!

  7. It’s been so fun to follow your training and I’m really excited to see how Boston goes. You’ve worked so hard for this Allison and I cannot wait to track you and hear how you tear it up.

      1. Yes! I am thinking we are going to hit the road around 7:30am. That would put us at the expo by around 1ish. I usually leave later and get there later, but I am not running on Saturday (that is new for me, usually I do 4-5 miles!) so I am going to get up and hit the road. If we are there around the same time, we should *try* to meet up! That place is crayyyyyyyy!

      2. I’m guessing that we will be out of the expo by 1:00 and roaming the town for some lunch! But, if I’m there, I’ll stalk your Instagram feed and maybe I can locate you based on pictures. haha!! You should be close to my husband during the race, so if I see you I’ll snap some pictures. I’ll be tracking you!

  8. i had tears in my eyes reading this. You are fucking awesome. Hitting a hard workout for the last time on tired legs is something not everyone can do. I have had my fair share of running workouts where I tear up thinking about how much stronger I am, the hard work put in and how i’m still surprised by what my body and mind are capable of.

    You totally won already.
    Boston will just be the celebration.

    1. Thank you so much Cory!!! It was like a huge sigh of relief when I finished that last mile. Super emotional. I just remember feeling almost defeated on my first few tempo runs and almost lost – like “how am I going to do this?” To go from that to completing the last hard week was a really great feeling. I really recommend this training plan!!! You’re right – Boston is the celebration!

  9. you. are. ready!!!!!!!

    I have a question as I am writing out my Hansons plan on the calendar! You are doing your tempo runs faster than what your GMP is, yet Hanson says stick to the prescribed paces. What’s your view on how closely someone should stick to the paces? I used the Hanson Calculator and it says my speed should be 6:55-7:12. I know I can run faster than that for 400s, 800s, etc. Should I if I can? Or maybe with the cumulative fatigue just because I can normally do it, maybe I can’t with the fatigue?

    1. Ahhhh thanks my friend!!! Okay as far as paces. My answer to you: it depends. In the beginning, I used the treadmill a lot because of the blizzard we had and because I couldn’t hit the pace outside. I would set it as close to my 7:03 pace and do what I could. Once I ran outside, I ran my tempos on effort and fear. I was always scared I would not hit the pace so I think I ran faster than necessary. However, I could do the workout, and complete the scheduled workouts in the days following so it didn’t seem to be hurting me. I say run on effort (even if you do go faster) and see how your legs respond. If you are struggling with the workouts that follow it, maybe stick to the slower end of the pace range and speed up as the weeks go on. It’s no secret that my ultimate goal here (not at Boston this year, I just mean in general) is to break 3 hours so many of my times were closer to a sub-3 type of goal. In my head, I felt like going a little faster was also giving me the confidence that if I do PR at Boston, then I could focus on a sub-3 finish for my next round of training.

  10. Awww I really am just so happy for you and where your heart is at in everything right now. You’ve put in tremendous work and it’s fun to see you reaping the rewards of that – and not just the “Woohoo – got a new PR reward!” but the life lessons and joy reward. I think the whole training process and journey is the most important aspect to keep in mind no matter how things transpire in the actual race. I know you’ll kick butt in Boston, but I also know that you should think about the joy and confidence you love about running while you’re racing and not even think about the time or numbers whatsoever. You’ll be flying if you just let yourself 😀

    Also, I totally agree with the whole “doing anything for two more miles” bit because that’s exactly what went through my mind in my 10k this weekend. Once I got to mile 4 at this crazy pace I never actually thought I could pull off, I was like “Well, I suppose I can hang in there another two miles…” lol.

    1. Thank you Charissa!!! I really have enjoyed the fast paces and the PRs, but you hit the nail on the head. The life lessons and joy have been much more rewarding. This has been quite a journey and I’ve enjoyed every single mile! I can’t wait to read your 10K post – I started to yesterday but need to really get caught up today. I am so excited for you!

      1. I can see through your writing just how much you’ve enjoyed it 😀
        Just posted about my 10k!

  11. Great job sticking to the workouts this cycle and giving your best. You put so much effort and hard work this spring, I hope Boston will go your way. You certainly deserve a great race!

  12. I absolutely loved everything about this post. So so beautifully written. I felt like you’ve just laid everything on the table. I’ve experienced a pray/cry post run before so I know exactly what you mean. It’s beautiful! It’s a celebration of pulling the very best out of yourself. And THATS glorious! Following your journey has been such an inspiration to me. Your mileage has been intense and how you made time for pole fitness AND core/strength?! You’re an animal woman. I can not wait to read about how you took Boston by the horns.

    1. Thank, Jess! I am so thankful that we have such a wonderful, supportive blogging community. It’s been fun to share this experience! I’m truly thankful that I was able to make it through this training plan, and now I am hoping for the best on Monday!!

  13. Ahhhh!!!! YES!!! I’m so freaking excited for you!! I have loved every minute following your journey and now it’s almost time! You so have already won; now it’s just the fun part ❤

  14. Great post 🙂 You’ve seriously been amazing through this whole training cycle with your dedication and focus. I hope you have a fantastic Boston experience – you’ve earned it!! Also, when are you planning on arriving in town? I’m hitting up the expo Friday night so maybe I will see you there! 🙂

    1. Ahh yay! I am so excited that you are going to be up there. I am coming up Saturday morning and will be at the expo early afternoon (as long as traffic doesn’t suck!). I have some dinner plans in Brookline that night and then I will probably do a few shakeout miles on Sunday along the Charles river! I want to go sometime mid morning. You are welcome to join me!! Probably around 10ish!! I’m staying with my aunt and uncle off of Babcock Street in Brookline!

  15. Wow. I remember when you were hunting for a plan, and now you’re almost at the starting line. I can understand why you got emotional that last mile. Being able to put into words how you felt is pretty impressive too.
    I’d like to say that if this is the best training season you’ve ever had, you will of course PR at Boston. However, there’s no way to know what other factors come into play, and if they are out of your control, you’ll know to just accept them as part of the experience.
    Also, there will be the moment during your run where you say: but I did so much training for this. It was such a strict training cycle. I devoted 17 weeks to this. I can’t give up now.
    That’s good motivation! But it also shouldn’t be something you beat yourself up about. The Hanson’s method won’t go away, and now that you’ve done it once, you’ll be able to do it again.
    But also, think of all the other things you accomplished during this time too: first pole dancing competition sign-up, family get-togethers, several flaming hot PRs, skiing, your day job,…
    I don’t want you to think I’m being negative. I’m totally psyched about how your tempo run went and convinced you’ll have an awesome race! But I also think it’s good to consider how to react based on any possibility.
    it’s been great following you on this journey. I hope you take it easy these next few days and are ready to go on the 16th!
    Is there a way to stalk you while you run? Because I don’t think I can wait for you to blog about it. 🙂
    Also, great song. You mentioned that you loaded the entire Know-It-All album a few weeks ago, and I went and did the same thing. I figured if I liked “Here” and “Wild Things,” I would not be disappointed. I wasn’t.
    Thanks for blogging!

    1. You are TOTALLY on the same page as me and NOT negative at all! I hoped the way I left off in my post wasn’t negative when I said I don’t know if I can ever PR again – what I mean is that all the training in the world can’t prepare you for what a marathon will bring. You could have the best training cycle ever and feel off and have a bad day. I’ve had races where I trained hard and came up short, and races where I’ve just put in mediocre training and ran a pace that I had no business running. It is all the name of the game in distance running. You and I seem to view it the same way – we are not pessimists, just realistic. There are so many variables that you can’t control in any race. I feel like I’ve taken care of all of the “controllable” variables. All I can do now is maintain a positive attitude, eat lots of carbs, sleep, hydrate and line up at the start 🙂 I can’t believe it’s almost here!!!

  16. Amazing run!! Hitting those paces must have felt amazing. You have been in beast mode this training cycle, it’s been inspiring to follow along. I can’t wait to read all about how it goes down a week from today, you’re going to do amazing!

  17. YAAAAASS! I love everything about this post. One of the coaches for my running club has the same “Last one, fast one” motto, and it’s something I always try to stick to. Also I have to say, as a reader, I can definitely tell that this training plan has been different, in a good way for you. I feel like more of your posts have been more positive than before you started this training cycle. Not to say in any way that you were negative before, but just that your attitude has been generally happier. Hanson’s has been working for you. You’ve been kicking ass and taking names this whole time and you should be SO PROUD regardless of what happens in Boston.

    1. Thank you! I think this time around, I was just really into it. It was a really good cycle, both physically and emotionally – and I needed it, after the last one ended so poorly! Thank you for the comments and support ❤ xo

  18. I love this so much! Yes, we train so we can tolerate and work through the pain, not so there IS no pain. And the biggest, riskiest, scariest things are ALWAYS the things that end up making me feel totally accomplished and strong and happy.

    You’ve have a GREAT training cycle and I can’t wait to hear about Hopkinton!

  19. I am FINALLY catching up. I had tears in my eyes reading this. I am so proud of you. And I know how the story ends—or really begins! I am chomping at the bit for your recap. You’re my idol Allison. Xo!

    1. Thank you Colby!!! I am so glad I followed your training and used Hansons. I really think I would have had a completely different experience without it. I didn’t get that 3:05 but it was a tough day out there. I was ready, thanks to YOU!

      1. Gurl you put in the work!!! You looked great!!!! It was tough!!! Wheels were falling off of buses left and right up in there!!! So very proud of you!!! xoxoxo I am so, so bummed we didn’t meet up. 😦 I wish we had come in a bit earlier. It was kinda hectic. Are you running Hartford this year again???

      2. It was so tough! I feel like my wheels stayed on pretty well – I was DONE at the end but I held on. I am not running Hartford this year 😦 But I am considering the Southernmost Marathon in the Keys!! Need a beach trip on my schedule!!!

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