October 18, 2015: The New and Improved Boston 2017 Plan

I’ve decided to go for another, faster, BQ time. My target race? Mountains2Beach in May 2016. I’m also signing up for the Utah Valley Marathon in June 2016 as a back-up race, in case I want/need to take another stab. There are three weeks between the races, enough time to recover and still take advantage of the conditioning. I’m not up for two separate marathon training cycles.

On my run this morning I came up with this plan, and thought about the areas I’d like to work on before I begin formal marathon training next February.

Speed: Oh, man, oh, man. I need to get faster. My new goal time requires a pace of 8:35; my fastest marathon was run at an 8:50. Can I take 15 seconds per mile off my marathon pace? I would like to try. But I feel like I’ll need to train my brain as well as my legs; I think of 10:00 as a very relaxed pace, and 9:20 as my basic training pace. Anytime I see an “8” in my pace I freak out – like I must be going way too fast. Once upon a time I never would have imagined a 9:20 to be a comfortable pace but eventually I got there. I need to do the same with the “8” paces. I know how to do speedwork to get my legs there; I also want to get my mind there as well.

Strength/Cross Training: Yuck. I’m not a strength training fan. Or a cross training fan. I tried to do strength training while training for Santa Rosa but it left my legs sore for key running workouts, so I dropped it (since I hate them anyways it was easy to drop). But since I have 3-4 months before I begin marathon training again, it would be a good time to take that up again. I might even take a spin class.

Weight loss: This is big. I did drop about 5lbs for Santa Rosa – which came right back on after the race. I live at right about 135lbs (well, fluctuates from 132lbs to 136lbs). I’d like to run Mountains2Beach at 125lbs. Since I know losing weight during marathon training is nearly impossible, I’d like to use the next 3 months to drop the weight.

So that’s the beginnings of The Plan.

Have you ever tried to get faster for a marathon? What worked for you?

October 17, 2015: When you feel a pain in your arch…

I’m lucky, extremely lucky, that my running injuries have been minor, treatable injuries that really needed no more than rest, ice and patience. I try to pay attention to every twinge early on – I refer to it as my “systems check” – and address issues right away.

I’ve never (knocking hard on wood) had an issue with Plantar Fasciitis – sometimes my arches are sore and I immediately roll them, massage them, etc. Luckily I’ve never been hit with PF and, after training to run 4 marathons over the last year and a half (three of them BQ times), I was surprised to not have more than some minor shin splints.

Since Santa Rosa almost 2 months ago, I haven’t put in high mileage weeks. I did beat myself up pretty good at Ragnar Vail Lake, and during my recovery from that adventure I noticed a horrible, painful ‘tearing’ on my right arch, right at the ball of my right foot. It wasn’t happening when I was running, but whenever I stretched my foot I’d feel this tear. It was more than just an ache – it was a “ripping” sensation, and sharp.

As if reading my mind, one of my friends on posted this video on Facebook Mob:ility Mastery: Learn the ONE Stretch That Relieves Plantar Fasciitis, Shin Splints, Achilles Pain, Heel Pain and Compartment Syndrome. And can I tell you something? While this stretch is one of most painful things I’ve ever done on my foam roller, after trying this just once, the tearing disappeared. Seriously. Gone.

I’ve been doing this once a day for the past week and my calves feel amazing, my shin splints are fading. It’s just way too amazing not to share it. I highly, highly, highly recommend checking this video out (disclaimer: I am in no way, shape or form a doctor or any type of medical practitioner, I just know what worked for me).

October 11, 2015: Missed it by this much…

38 seconds.

I missed the mark by 38 seconds. That mark being the cutoff for the 2016 Boston Marathon registration. Over the last 10 months I’ve run three BQ times – squeaker time, but BQ’s nonetheless. My fastest time put me 1:50 below the BQ time for my age and gender requirement of 3:55:00. I felt pretty good about that time – not great, but good. And like the thousands of others who sat back and watched the first week of Boston Marathon registration see a significant increase of faster registrants, as that first week ended my heart quickly sank with the realization that my time, most likely, would not be fast enough.  When week two registration began I went through the motions and even gave myself permission to feel good about that for a few minutes. But then I almost immediately began consoling myself on what I felt was inevitable; that my time would not be fast enough.

My biggest fear was that I would be off by just a few seconds; it would have driven me crazy thinking about the tiny things that I could have done to come in a second or two faster. It’s easy to find 1-2 seconds when you look back at a marathon.

Nothing left in the tank at the Santa Rosa Marathon
Nothing left in the tank at the Santa Rosa Marathon

But in the end I was a good 38 seconds below the mark. At Santa Rosa, where I clocked in my fastest time (3:53:10), I definitely did not have an extra 38 seconds in the tank. On paper I ran the race I trained for. I’d aimed all summer for 3:52; if you look at my Garmin you’ll see that I actually ran 26.35 miles in 3:53:10, which I take to mean that at the actual 26.2 mile mark according to my Garmin I was just under 3:52. In many ways it was a perfectly executed race. My goal was simply not fast enough.

The moment I realized I blew it
The moment I realized I blew it

On the other hand, I could look back at Mountains2Beach in May (3:53:36) where I fell apart over the last 2 miles; I overheated and had no water, and my pace crumbled. My overall pace for that race was 8:52; however the last two miles were run at 9:39 and 9:40. I can definitely find the BQ cushion that would have gotten me into next year’s race if I could have maintained just a 9:00 pace over those last two miles.

I'm off to find my inner wild...
I’m off to find my inner wild…

In the time that has lapsed since “The Rejection” (that’s what I’m calling it) I was, fortunately, distracted by another event, Ragnar Trail Vail Lake, which consumed my time, energy, thoughts and emotions for the week up to and during the event. And was I ever grateful for that distraction. After training for and running 3 fast marathons between June 2014 and August 2015, I was burnt out on marathon ANYTHING. Racing. Training. Conversations. Whatever.

But now that the dust from Ragnar has settled (literally), and as my sore legs slowly recover, my thoughts about running another marathon have returned. I realize, when I think about it, that I’m not done trying to make it to Boston. A couple of friends suggested that I wait until I age up (that window would begin after next year’s registration). My reaction? Fuck that! No way!

My first BQ - when I didn't even try.
My first BQ – when I didn’t even try.

No, I don’t want to do that to myself because it feels like, I don’t know, like a cop out. Qualifying at age 48-49 to run at age 50? I know, on paper it looks like the logical thing to do if my goal, above all, is to run Boston. But first, lets just assume that the BAA does not increase their qualifying standards for 2018, an assumption which, I feel, is questionable.

The fact is, I came so damn close this past year. If I am going to qualify, I want to qualify in my current age band, as difficult or impossible as it may be to do.

So that is the epiphany I woke up to over the last 48 hours. I’m going to rest for a few months, and then I’m getting back to work. And I’m not going to aim for 3:55, or 3:52. I’m aiming squarely for…wait for it…3:45.

I know, I know, that would be an 8 minute drop over my current fastest. That’s right.

However, knowing how I think about things, I cannot help but wonder if by focusing so hard on 3:52, I never gave myself a chance to run faster. On my training runs if I was supposed to run at an 8:50 pace, even if I felt good enough to run 8:45, I kept at 8:50. My brain sees a number on a training plan and it locks in. So now I’m going to lock in at something much more uncomfortable.

More details to follow…

January 1, 2015: Everyday I am a runner

I am a runner. I’m not a professional runner. I’m not a competitive runner. But I am a runner.

I am also a mother. There are many mothers who identify themselves as ‘mother runners.’ I used to, but it never quite felt right. I realized that the reason the phrase didn’t resonate with me is because the phrase ‘mother runner’ implies (to me) that being a mother shapes the type of runner I am. But for me the opposite is more accurate. Being a runner has shaped the kind of mother I’ve become. Being a runner has shaped the kind of wife I am, the kind of worker I am, the kind of friend I am. Because in each of those roles, I am always thinking through life as a runner. Everyday, I’m a runner.

I wanted to document my journey as a runner over the course of one year. So that’s what I’ll be writing here. There probably won’t be many (any) product recommendations (I’m a horrible sales person anyways). It won’t always be bright and shiny. I’ll be honest about my ups and downs.

How did running shape my life today? It got me out of bed earlier than I wanted to on New Year’s Day to run in a 5k with my husband and our two boys. My older son is a runner; although he’ll graduate from high school soon and with that, leave his cross country life behind him, he has already begun to set his sights on longer distances. In my heart I think he is a marathoner, he just doesn’t know it yet.

My younger son is not a runner – at least not yet. But his enthusiasm for trying to be a runner cannot be denied. Today’s 5k was a challenge – he thought he was more prepared than he was. We have a 10k in two short weeks and I worry that he isn’t ready. But tonight at dinner, he looked across the table at me with a fierce determination in his eyes; he assured me he will be ready. I love him for believing. I believe in him too.

Tonight as I wrapped up the first day of the year I found out from a friend that a marathon I’ve been procrastinating registering for had less than 200 spots left. Grudgingly, I registered. Booked the hotel room. Registered my husband for the half marathon. And in five minutes I turned a thought into action. I will try to BQ again. I will try to take a minute off of my marathon time. Less than five months from now. The thought is daunting; I ran my marathon PR of 3:54 (enough for a BQ for 2016) just five short weeks ago, but the pain of that experience is still pretty fresh in my mind. I’d hoped to have more time to emotionally recover from the experience before registering for another. But it’s done now. Talk has been put into action.