Boston recap

I would love to have some really inspiring and clever lead-in to this post. Alas, I do not. So we’ll just get into it.

Monday was the big day. Boston #2. I had high hopes for this race. I trained my ass off. I was consistent with my training, I missed very few runs. I pushed hard on the road and in the gym. I weighed and measured everything I ate and successfully got down to my race weight. I was leaner, faster, stronger than ever and I was expecting a PR.

Always ready to party.

I wish obsessively checking the weather meant that you actually had some control over the weather. It was warmer than everyone wanted it to be and the wind (a headwind, of course) picked up around mile 14.

I’ve been staring at my splits. Trying to figure out where the wheels fell off. I never blew up… but maybe the wheels were never on in the first place. I pride myself on my ability to redline for a long time. Not the case on Monday.

I felt toast by mile 7. I struggled mentally.

I felt alright at the half. I was a little behind my goal pace, but I figured I could push hard after Mile 21 and bring it home. I could never put the hammer down. I could never push myself any harder. I tried at the end. With some success.

With less than a mile to go, every fiber in my being wanted to quit. My determination to finish was paper-thin. I wanted to give up right then and there. To not move another step. To walk. To quit. But I kept going. I pushed with everything I had. My time was good enough for another BQ. Only 74 seconds slower than last year (my PR). But I suffered immensely.

Was it really just the heat? The crowded course? Did I make a mistake in training? In fueling? In hydrating? Was it stopping and walking at the aid stations? Was it the wind? Was it a little bit of everything? Am I obsessing over this too much?

It’s just over a minute. Over the course of 3 and 1/2 hours. It could have been a lot of things. But I was so confident, so mentally prepared to crush it this year…. and to feel like the best I can do is hang on is disheartening.

Perhaps the only reason I could hang on is because I was in good shape. Because I put the work in. That logic still feels like settling… and there is little satisfaction in that. However, I did not collapse, I am not injured in any way, and while I am sore, it is not debilitating. Perhaps another way my training paid off.

I’ll be back to running in the next few days. I’ll get back in the gym. I’ve got some strength goals to pursue – I need to take a break from racing for awhile. But I’m still after my sub-3:25. This time with a vengeance. Perhaps a fall marathon. Once my mind has recovered.

For now, it’s back to the gym, more trail running, training my puppy to be a good running partner, and actually sleeping in on a Sunday or two.

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Boston

I’m finally here! This trip is already off to a better start than last year. I made it to the expo to grab my bib before things got totally insane, the weather is nice, things are good.

My plane was full of people ecstatic to go run Boston. It was the coolest. I love the energy and the excitement that surrounds this event.

I’m still super nervous.

I’m staring at this year and last year in Training Peaks to reassure myself that I am, in fact, faster. My mileage was sufficient.

This is my 5th marathon and my 2nd Boston. I’m still in awe of how far 26.2 miles is… I am going to cover that on foot. 3 hours is a long time to run. A lot of things can happen. I felt so good last year though… really relaxed through the first 14 miles. And I am in better shape this year than I was last year, so I do have high hopes for a sub 3:25 finish.

I went for a short shakeout run today. It kind of felt like crap. It felt like crap last year and I ran a great race. It usually feels like crap and I am just fine the next day. I forget that.

I met up with an old friend of mine today. He reminded me that the mind always wants to find a reason to quit. He has run a number of marathons and said that before every race, everything hurts and he is dying. I’m paraphrasing slightly. But the mind always tries to find a reason to quit. There is a tiny voice in our head – the voice of doubt, the voice of worry, the voice that wants to avoid discomfort – and we have to shut that voice up.

Last year, I felt honored just to be here. Getting to Boston, running this marathon, being a part of something so big, was reward in itself. It symbolized how far I have come. I don’t know why this year is any different.

Tomorrow will be a celebration of how far I have come. I will run to show myself not how good of a runner I am, but what I am capable of.

Here’s to my best Boston.

 

 

Eating an elephant. And other delicious things.

Last year at this time I was “only taking research credits/working on my thesis” and I had a grand notion that I would, in fact, have time to actually work on my thesis. In hind sight, I’m sure I did, but the deadline was far enough away to make it feel like I “had plenty of time”.

I defended in December of last year – later than I wanted to, but probably the best I could have hoped for given the circumstances. The idea of writing a thesis seems simple – you do some research and you write about it. Kind of like running a marathon. You go out and you train and then you run for a really long time. But as you get into those things, you realize that they are a lot more involved than they appear on the surface.

No one told me I would read 400+ journal articles or actually cry into my laptop. No one told me I would have to buy “fat shoes” that I could wear when my feet get super swollen or that I would cry on the side of the road or that you can get chafing so bad that you bleed. There are a lot of things that no one told me before I started either of these endeavors… but perhaps it’s best that we don’t fully understand what we are getting ourselves into.

The process can be so overwhelming. Terrifying even.

I have to run a marathon.

I have to write a thesis.

Those are big. They seem bigger than I can handle. I don’t know how I am going to pull these off. I lose perspective.

Perspective says, “I don’t have to run a marathon tomorrow. I just have to do my training run for that day. I don’t have to run 26 miles… just 6 or 8 or 10 or whatever my plan calls for.”

Perspective says, “I don’t have to have my thesis done by next week. I just need to write the next paragraph. Read the next article.”

Perspective says do the next right thing. Not even a big thing. The next thing. What is the next thing you can do to get closer to where you want to be? It can be simple. I’m going to wake up tomorrow and go for a run. Maybe your goal is weight loss – the next thing you can do is wake up tomorrow and eat a healthy breakfast. Go walk for 10 minutes.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Just take the next bite.

And if elephants do not sound delicious, here are the recipes that I am making over and over because I’m too tired to be more creative! Enjoy!

Balsamic Rosemary Steak Kabobs

Ginger Marinated Bulgogi Style Chicken

 

 

The Training Hangover

I have decided that tapering after a nasty month of training is like waking up from a long night of drinking. I feel more tired and beat up than I did in training. I’m incredibly emotional, I’m hungry, and I think my body is realizing what I just did to it for the last weeks. I forget that tapering is not actually this magical, restorative time – more like an awful hangover combined with nerves and a lot of extra energy from not running as much.

I hate love the marathon because it asks for a full commitment. You cannot half-assedly train for a marathon and expect good results. The marathon asks for all of you. It is so incredibly uncomfortable and it sucks a lot but at the end of the day, you stand in awe of what you are capable of, how far you have come, your perseverance. Quite frankly, you feel like a badass – like you got into a fight with a grizzly bear and won. Your body also feels like you got into a fight with a grizzly bear. That goes away eventually. The glory lasts forever.

Every time I train for a marathon, I go to what I think is my limit. Physically, mentally, emotionally. I think I have gone as far as I can. And then I still have about 4 weeks of training left. And I have to tap into the reserves I didn’t know I had. The little bits of strength I can scrape together. I learn a lot about grit and heart and perseverance. When you are 7 miles from home, you don’t have many options but to keep pressing on. One more step. One more mile.

The marathon asks for your mornings, your Saturday nights so you can rest for your long run, your Sunday mornings, your Sunday afternoons spent recovering. It asks for your time, your energy. I think my legs have been constantly sore since January and I have shoes that won’t fit again until May.

I had a fleeting moment where I felt strong this morning. Standing at a stoplight, waiting for the light to change – the sun was rising, I could see the steam rising off me, the air was cool and I felt strong. For a brief moment. It was glorious. Alas, the light changed and I was back to trying to move my concrete legs through air that felt thick as molasses.

But it was in that moment that I caught a glimpse of who I have become. What this process has shaped me into. And that was enough to keep my moving. Sometimes that’s all you need – just a little glimpse. Just a little bit of faith in who you are, a little belief in the strong legs that have carried you so many miles. A little trust that you will rise to the challenge at hand.

Press on.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
Maya Angelou