Category Archives: Training

Boston Marathon Training Weeks #7 and #8

I’m here, I’m here!

I realize I’ve been super MIA recently, and I know everyone is sorely upset about it.

Turns out… when you move, attempt to settle into a new routine, start a new job, and continue to train for a marathon, blogging gets put on the back burner. Huge surprise! And while I certainly haven’t had any time to spare for RBR, the truth is that I’ve also kind of been avoiding talking about training, running, and generally how I’m feeling about Boston.

I’m trying to spare the internet, in a way, because all I’ve really felt inclined to do when it comes to running and exercise is whine about it.

But, for the sake of honesty, here’s a bit of an update.

I’ve been severely lacking in both motivation and inspiration when it comes to running. As in, I can barely get out of bed in the morning every single time I’m supposed to run. This is probably not unrelated to the fact that my legs in general feel really heavy and off, and just about every workout takes an insane amount of mental and physical effort. Not to mention that my IT band still aches sometimes, my feet have been unhappy, and – perhaps most significantly- my stomach has not been on board with running whatsoever.

Before you get too concerned, I am not in any way experiencing the same ailments as I was last December when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and was out of commission for a month. Not at all. Generally, my daily life is just fine and normal – with the exception of making bathroom stops when I run. I was doing much better in this regard a few weeks ago, but with the stress of the move and the general routine switch-up, my mending stomach wasn’t having it. So, I’d call it a small step backward, which I’m hoping will improve before too long, but it’s definitely not helping my running motivation.

Ultimately, I’m just not feeling like myself. I don’t feel fit, and despite the fact that I’ve logged the miles and on the surface I should feel ready to run Boston (see: training below), I just don’t have the confidence I normally have. Part of this is self-inflicted by my inability to ignore the clock and to accept the fact that I’m not as fast as I used to be. But a bigger part is due to the fact that I simply don’t have the endurance or the strength that I’ve had before, and a lot of that is out of my control. I wholly admit that I underestimated the toll that being so sick and being injured would have on me. In certain respects, I still think both are still having an impact, and while my brain feels ready for full speed ahead, my body isn’t ready yet no matter how much I wish it were.

So, while it’s really hard for me to accept my limitations, I’m going to need to put my pride aside at least for the time being. It’s easy for me to say that I want to just enjoy Boston and survive the race, but there’s always a voice in my head that hates the fact that the clock won’t reflect what I know I’m actually capable of. As awful as it is, I can’t help but play the comparison game to both my former running self and to others. Real talk: it’s so hard to hear the Boston goals of others who have a similar qualifying time as me and not cringe at how I would otherwise have the same goals.

If you think I sound like a stubborn asshole right now, I agree with you.

And perhaps the worst part of all is that I know I should be appreciating the journey for what it is and be thankful for the position I’m in. I’m lucky enough to be running the most historic race in the running world, on perhaps the most significant occasion of that race, and I should just put aside my personal issues and just enjoy it. Again, this is much easier said than done, and while I certainly do not take this opportunity for granted, I am having a hard time expanding my perspective.

I suppose it’s been a good learning process though, and it’s forced me to have some serious self-talks about my priorities as a runner.

So, these next few weeks before Boston are going to be about letting go, being grateful, and trying to garner as much positive energy as possible before race day. I am very excited for the race, and I think with a little work on my mindset it’s going to be an incredible experience. Let’s hope that my body follows suit, as well.

So now that I’ve admitted to just how competitive and self-critical I am, let’s look at some training. The past two weeks were my technical “peak weeks” and here’s how they looked:

Week #7

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 8.5 miles + lifting

Wednesday: Spin + stair-stepper

Thursday: 7.5 + lifting

Friday: 2 mile swim

Saturday: 20 miles

Sunday: 6.75 miles

Total=42.75 miles

Week #8

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 10.35 miles

Wednesday: 7 miles + lifting

Thursday: 2 mile swim

Friday: 6.75 miles

Saturday: 22 miles

Sunday: Rest

Total= 46.1 miles

Time to get it together. Both my body and my brain need a good dose of rest and TLC in order for Boston to be a great day. Hopefully my next post will have a little more cheer and optimism and a little less negativity. As I’m sure you know by now, this current mindset when it come to running is not my style – and I’m hoping these past few months of frustration will result in a brighter running future for the rest of the year.

And hopefully at some point I’ll get to tell you all about my new Denver life. It’s pretty great so far 🙂

Boston Marathon Training Week #4

This is going to be the quickest post in the history of Run Birdie Run.

There’s just two days until we’re hitting the road to Colorado for the big move, and my free time is extremely minimal. Between packing (hate), saying goodbye to people (hate), more packing (double hate), and marathon training, I’ve been pinched when it comes to just about everything else. Including showering. But it’s temporary. I’m trying to hold myself together, but I’m sort of expecting a hysterical breakdown at any moment.

Nevertheless, training is happening, and here’s how last week looked. It was a good one.

Monday: 6.7 miles + lifting

Oh sweet, glorious Monday. This run was a game changer, people. I decided to wear my old shoes that I’ve shelved for the time being, and within just a few paces I felt light, quick, and efficient. It was windy and rainy, but it didn’t matter. This was the kind of run we runners dream of, and it was long overdue.

Tuesday: 2 mile swim

I remember nothing from this swim, and if it weren’t for my Google doc training log, I wouldn’t have even remembered what I did this day. Oh well, it happened.

Wednesday: Total Body Conditioning class + 8 miles

In a very uncharacteristic move, I decided to wait until later in the day to do my run instead of before the class. I knew it would be sunny later, and somehow a runch sounded better than getting it all done at once, which I typically prefer.

Shockingly, the class was way better than usual since I hadn’t exhausted myself by running beforehand. Here’s what the class looked like, compliments of my instructor who posts the workouts ahead of time. And I’m only posting this because the result was soreness in precisely every single muscle. Pain, so much pain.

3x
• Swings (hand weights btwn legs then in front of chest.) Optional hop up and down on bench. 0:45
• Single leg hip hinge with 2x row 8x ea side <— HAMSTRING DEATH
• Elbow plank with leg cross under 12x ea side
• Triceps extensions on 1 leg 20x

3x
• Alternating front lunge passing weight under leg and overhead 16x
• Side lunge to wood chop, optional knee lift 10x each side
• Bench pullovers with hand weight 16x
• Walking plank then double knee tuck in elbow plank 0:45

3x
• Squat with lateral swing – swing weight from hip to hip, bringing weight up and in front of body. Optional jump on the squat. 0:45
• Push-up with jack legs 0:45
• Double leg lower 12x
• Bicycle abs 32x

And the sunny run was all I’d h`oped it would be. Perhaps not quite as magical as Monday, but really great in general. Two good runs in a row, high fives!

Thursday: Yoga

Today was my planned rest day, but after the soreness crept in after Total Body Conditioning the day before, I decided I ought to do a little stretch out. Plus, I should probably stretch more often anyway. It was a good class and we did a lengthy pigeon at the end, which is really my only credential for whether or not I think a class is successful.

Friday: 50 minutes elliptical + Total Body Conditioning class

I was still so sore from the class on Wednesday, but it seemed like working those muscles again helped out some. I’m still trying to ease off the running at certain points each week, no matter how much I might dislike the elliptical.

Saturday: 18 miles

This was a good one, friends. I decided to explore the best running parts of Seattle while I still had time, so I trekked my way to the Burke Gilman trail for this out-and-back long run. It was tough, and around mile 12 I was feeling pretty tired. Luckily, thanks to a second wind, I ended up finishing feeling pretty good and strong. Pace was meh, but consistent. Oh, and only 1 bathroom stop…which is a significant improvement!

The best part about this run though was getting brunch afterwards with lots of my favorite running gals. I will miss all of them!

Photo courtesy of Nicole. And look at Baby Jack!!! You're allowed to be impressed with my posture.

Photo courtesy of Nicole. And look at Baby Jack!!! You’re allowed to be impressed with my posture.

Sunday: 5.5 miles + Jasyoga

Some recovery miles around Greenlake with friends, which was lovely despite my wonky legs from the long run the day before. And a great 1 hour long Jasyoga class, followed by mini donuts. As someone who’s fairly consistently eyeing the clock while in yoga (super zen of me, I know), I was impressed with just how relaxing this class was and how quickly it went by. Good stuff.

Total = 38.2 miles

Thing felt like they really started to click this week, which was encouraging. Recently, although I’ve been able to run, I’ve felt off-kilter. The best analogy I can give is when you’re changing gears on a bike and the gears haven’t clicked in yet; that’s how my legs have felt on the run. This week was different, and somehow those mismatched gears seemed to fall into their rightful place. I think we all know how satisfying that feeling is on a bike, and it was just as good on the run.

And also…two yoga classes? I don’t even know who I am anymore.

This current week has been pretty crazy, but somehow it will be ending with a 20 miler. If I manage to get to Colorado without an ulcer or the flu, it’s going to be a miracle. All good stuff though, and I’m grateful for the ability to keep up.

This post ended up longer than I intended, but I guess talking about running is more fun than packing anyway, right? 🙂 Fineee, I’ll get back to it.

Happy Wednesday!

Boston Marathon Training Week #3

One more week in the books! Boston is starting to feel closer and closer, and I kind of wish there was an extra two weeks or so to play with. Oh well. Quality is going to need to trump quantity in terms of miles and training days.

Step-back week must have: absurdly huge pancakes. To those of you who choose smoothies after long runs, I'm sorry.

Step-back week must have: absurdly huge pancakes. To those of you who choose smoothies after long runs for refueling, I’m sorry.

This past week was a step-back week, which in hindsight was a great idea. I’ve been building up mileage and fitness in general for the past month+ after having essentially no base, and I wanted to do a little tempering before continuing to add. My legs are a bit unpredictable at this point, and I’m trying to baby them as much as possible, as evidenced by the two rest days this past week and lack of much strength training.

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 8 miles

This run was a little forgettable, but generally it was fine. I was glad to get in some decent weekday mileage again.

Wednesday: 45 minutes elliptical, 30 minutes stair-turner, lifting

I like to call this day: “Being Bored at the Gym.” Ugh. I wanted a good cardio workout but didn’t want to run two days in a row. The new issue of Runner’s World was the only thing that kept my sane. I was reminded of the days when I was much more of a gym rat than I am now, and I didn’t miss it at all.

Thursday: 7 miles

Gross, awful, no-good run. This was one of those runs where I was just so mad the whole time. Mad at my legs. Mad at my stomach. Mad at not feeling like a runner. I rallied by the end, but there was nothing encouraging about those 7 miserable miles.

Friday: 4,000 m swim

photo 1

For the first time in history I went to the pool after work on a Friday. But by some miracle, I was really into this swim. I guess subconsciously I’ve been craving some pool time, and I just kind of got lost in thought the whole time. I was definitely getting tired by the end, but otherwise this was a lovely swim. Yo’re welcome from my pruny fingers and mangled pinky.

Saturday: 12 miles

Mentally, this long run was very manageable considering it was shorter than I’ve been doing the past few weeks. And physically, it went well. I wore a watch again, and while I’m still far off of my “old” normal pace, it wasn’t too disappointing. Inching closer and closer back every week. I’ve been positive splitting my long runs like a champ recently, which shouldn’t be surprising at all, but I’m going to try and maybe spread out my effort a little more next week.

Good thing the dim lighting is hiding my Malbec-colored cheeks.

Good thing the dim lighting is hiding my Malbec-colored cheeks.

Sunday: Rest

I took an unplanned rest day yesterday, which I was fine with. My knee (not the recovering IT band-injured one) has been stiff this week, so I didn’t see a point in logging junk recovery miles. Instead, BF and I walked around Greenlake and I stretched a ton.

Total= 27 miles

Generally, it was a solid week, especially for a step-back week. I’d really like to be logging more miles, but I need to keep reminding myself of the end goal —Boston— and not immediately getting back to fitness I had four months ago. It will come, I just need to keep April 21 as my focal point for the time being.

More miles this week though, and an 18 mile long run as the grand finale. Starting to feel more like marathon training, and I like it.

Happy Monday!

Boston…here I come?

Would ya look at that, we’ve reached the end of January.

Well, shit. I guess I’m training for the Boston Marathon now?

Based on my offical-yet-loosey-goosey plan I told you all about at the beginning of the month, now is the time that I should be officially “starting” to train.

I feel many things about this, but namely…I’m a little overwhelmed with uncertainty. And it’s not just my body and health I’m uncertain about, but perhaps scariest of all, my motivation.

Don’t get me wrong: the idea of training for and racing Boston is so bright and sparkly in my head. The thought of running the course on April 21 makes me giddy, and I’m very grateful for the chance to do so. However, it’s the getting-there process I’m a little more apprehensive about, which is consequentially putting a kink in my excitement to get into training.

Real talk: I’m really not used to not being in good shape. That probably sounds way more conceited than I intended it to, but it’s a fact of the matter. For years, most of my easy days were what would be considered a long workout to many, and I was always able to count on a very solid base of endurance and strength when approaching my training and races.

That’s not the case right now. My workouts are much shorter and less intense than “normal,” I’m not able to float through runs with any kind of ease, and muscles that I never even knew I had before have disappeared (namely: the entirety of my butt). Not that I’m surprised by any of this, don’t get me wrong. The mere fact that “training for Boston” is on the table is something I’m hugely thankful for. But, this new reality of starting from scratch has been a harder pill to swallow than I anticipated.

Because I’m sure we can all agree on this: running, going to the gym, taking a class, etc. is so much easier to do when you’re in good shape. Sure, sometimes we have lazy days, but there’s a whole new level of willpower needed when you know that you’ll be struggling through your workout rather than kicking its ass.

(Obligatory acknowledgement that all of this is all incredibly eye-roll worthy complaining. I get it. It’s so very first world and things could be and have been much worse. But this is my blog, meant to detail my experiences in running. Cool? Cool.)

So, in a nutshell, the fact that I’m having to garner way more motivation for runs that are generally not fun and yield much slower results than I’m used to means that I’m not exactly chomping at the training bit. Not to mention the ill-effects of the weather, the dark mornings, and my need for bathroom access on every run.

There are moments of hope though, which rekindle my memory of being a happier runner. This past weekend, for instance, I was able to run multiple times around a foggy, quiet Greenlake and it was perfection. I’m also running without pain, which I’m grateful for with every footfall. My IT band isn’t 100%, as in it’s still stiff and cranky whenver I sit down, but I’m confident that it will be near 100% before too much longer. Also, for the first time last week, I found myself enjoying (at least for a little bit) my favorite strength class which recently has been embarrassingly difficult.

So yes. Progress is being made. I just need to remember to celebrate the little victories instead of expecting to instantly regain all of my strength and speed back. To use the most cliche yet appropriate metaphor, “It’s a marathon…not a sprint.”

I know, I’m sorry

So yes, I am now training for Boston. My mode of operation hasn’t changed, in that I’m focusing primarily on staying healthy, regaining fitness, and getting myself to the start line. Despite my natural instincts to plan out paces and workouts and goal times, it’s not really the time for those things. This training cycle is going to be about learning different kinds of lessons, namely in patience, in letting my body be my guide, and in appreciating the journey.

My focus will be on spending the next three months experiencing marathon training from a different vantage point, one that I am hoping will make me a more complete and smarter runner. I’m hoping Boston will be a victory lap of sorts, in terms of celebrating both the joys and the struggles I will inevitably face during the process. Because the joys cannot exist without the struggles, and if I’ve learned anything from these past few months — it’s that a heavy dose of perspective can be a pretty transformative thing.

Here’s to learning along the way and appreciating the smaller victories. And, hopefully, there will be a wonderful run from Hopkinton to Copely Square at the end of it all.

I’m planning on documenting the weekly training, per usual. So look for those coming soon 🙂

So with a chip on my shoulder and a healthy dose of humble pie, let’s get this underway!

Playing Catch-Up: Running, pets, and Boston

Hello! Long time no talk. How is everyone?

It’s so exciting that fall racing season is in full swing—it’s been fun to hear about everyone’s super long runs, tapering, and race results! I’ll admit I’m a tad jealous that I’m not doing a fall marathon (ahem, Chicago), however it’s made scheduling more relaxed and gets me even more excited for whatever’s next.

For now I thought I’d just give some updates—on running and otherwise.

Lately, I’ve been running between 40-50 miles a week, and recently it’s been closer to 50. It’s been fun, and feels surprisingly manageable. A year ago this would have been really high mileage for me, but it’s starting to feel a little more “normal” I guess you could say. I feel like I’m developing a really good base, and by alternating between speed, long runs, cut back weeks, and easy runs, I’m hoping that my base will be really strong by the time I gear up for my next marathon.

This is what a typical week has looked like lately:

M: rest, always

T: ~10 miles, no watch

W: ~8 miles, some kind of speed work, mostly tempos, and Maximum Sculpt class

T: ~8 miles easy

F: 6 miles slow and Maximum Sculpt class

S: 14-18 mile long run. I did do one random 20 miler last weekend, but otherwise I’m normally around 16

S: cross-training, normally swimming

My Wednesdays are Fridays almost always look the same, but otherwise things float around a lot. I’m starting to switch my long run days to Sunday for the fall/winter because the only thing better than finishing a long run is finishing a long run and laying on the couch watching football for the rest of the day.

Football season=Sunday long runs

So, despite the “not training” higher mileage, I do have some method to my madness—in the form of fall half marathons where allegedly, I’ll be testing my fitness.

Full disclosure/honesty: I’m 99% sure I’m not ready to run The Big Goal Time at the Bellingham Bay Half, which is two weeks from now. I could ramble away on a variety of excuses, but instead I’ll just take ownership and admit that I haven’t put in the amount of work necessary. Yes, I’ve been running and I’ve been diligent about workouts and miles, but I never feel like I jacked things up to the level I need to be at. It might have been fear, laziness, burnout, etc—but whatever the reason, the result is that I’m not feeling prepared to attempt a 1:35 half marathon in two weeks.

However, I do feel like the work I have done could be worth something, and I think I’ll use Bellingham as a fitness test and benchmark race as opposed to an A race. There is the chance of a PR (my current is 1:38:25), although I won’t be all that disappointed if I don’t break that either.

Do I want to be in shape to gut out 7:15 miles at Bellingham? Absolutely. Do I feel guilty for not being there yet? Not really. And here’s why:

I spent the summer having an incredible time running spur-of-the-moment races, spending hours in a van and on the road in two ultra relays, and generally living a life that didn’t revolve around A-race training. And it was fantastic! I don’t regret it for a minute. It was so good for my hyper-competitive self to take a break from the grind and live life a little less strictly. However, my summer didn’t come without some hard work—and in fact it left me more exhausted than I anticipated.

So, I suppose what I’m trying to say is that while I don’t feel ready for a 1:35 just yet, I do feel like with a little more time I’ll get there. I have a few more half-marathon plans up my sleeve this fall, and in no way have I discounted those as opportunities for fast races. I’m also secretly hoping that as the temperatures drop, all my hot weather training will have miraculously made me faster without changing anything else. 🙂 Point blank, my goal to get faster and to be a better runner hasn’t changed one bit, it’s just taking a little more time in the short-term than I originally hoped for.

In other news…

In case you haven’t seen on my social media posting spree:

image

We got a kitten!!!

His name is Jasper, he’s 11 weeks and 5 days old, and he’s perfect.

He’s completely stolen our hearts, and every day I love him even more. I’m also a paranoid kitten owner, and I’m chronically afraid that something’s going to choke him, electrocute him, or that he’s ill with some rare kitty cancer. This definitely bodes well for how I’ll be with a baby.

Nevertheless, he’s a happy, healthy, curious little kitty and makes my day brighter.

image (2)

He is also very helpful at drawer organization.

He is also very helpful at drawer organization.

And lastly…

photo

Stay tuned folks! Boston registration is still open for all us “barely there” qualifiers, and this morning at exactly 7:08 AM, my registration was sent in. I’m guessing we won’t hear until the end of the week, but I do know that if space does fill up…every second counts. Let’s hope that my -2:54 minutes helps me!

I do have my hopes up, admittedly, but even if I don’t get in, it felt so incredible to even have the chance to register. Two years after I ran my first marathon, I never imagined I could be on the Boston Athletic Association website hitting “submit” to my very own application. It was awesome, and I can only imagine what it will be like to actually run the race, whenever that may be.

That’s all for now! I think it’s safe to assume most people are as excited as I am about the upcoming crunchy leaves and cooler weather. And as much as I scoff at all the “scarves!” and “boots!” and “OMG PSL!!!” yammer, I have to admit that fall is seriously my jam, and I plan on soaking it up to the fullest.

Happy Monday!

So about that half-marathon goal…

Remember that big, scary goal I wrote about a while back? The one I was over-the-moon ecstatic and horrified to starting working toward?

Right. Well, in case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t done a lot of talking about how the steps toward that goal are going. This is partially because I haven’t had any time. Between working, running, relaying, traveling, and the life in between, my blog-updating time is limited and I’ve had to focus on the current happenings rather than the far-out goals.

So here’s an update on the 1:35:xx half-marathon goal I’m pining for before the end of this year:

I’m not feeling great about it.

It’s not that I don’t want it, and it’s not that I don’t think there’s potential in it. But the commitment and enthusiasm I felt when I initially began this scary endeavor hasn’t really been there recently, and frankly…I’m not surprised.

I don’t think I gave the magnitude of two ultra relays in the same month the credit I should have from the onset. They both required a lot of slow and long miles to prepare for, a week of taper beforehand, and a week of recovery afterward. I suppose I felt like the relays would simply “fit into” my training for my goal half. Instead, it became the other way around; I was trying to fit half-marathon training into preparation and participation in two ultra relays. And let me just tell you…the training regimens for each don’t necessarily fit together.

It’s the same reason why it’s really hard to focus a lot of attention on speed work during the peak weeks of marathon training. You can try and bust out a few tempo miles, but ultimately it’s the mileage count that reigns supreme, and we must abide by the desires of our already fatigued legs.

With that said, after a weekend of running over 35 miles in 24 hours, my legs were not going to be okay with 800 repeats, or goal paces, or anything other than a humble jog for that matter. And that happened to me twice.

Ultimately, I was more concerned with recovering adequately from the relays than checking off every half-marathon specific work out. And IMHO, this was definitely the right way to go. Sure, long term I probably care more about increasing my speed and my half-marathon PR than I do about relays. However, I definitely care more about running injury free above anything else—so it was in the end a matter of maintaining health.

The other part of this whole training-not-training deal (the part I’m more embarrassed to admit) is that the paces are ridiculously intimidating. It feels like I’ve just become mostly-comfortable with the idea of a 7:30 half-marathon pace (my old PR), and all of a sudden I’m supposed to be working on a 7:15. Those numbers, “7-1-5,” have kind of been haunting me, and it’s become obvious that I need to not only up my mental game, but I need to practice this pace to the point where it’s a little less daunting.

With that said, I have been practicing! What’s funny is that I “wrote” this post (in my head, on an easy run) on Monday , and then yesterdays run kind of changed my perspective on the whole “lack of confidence” theme. Which subsequently changed the ending of this post…as you’ll see below.

For me, tempo workouts at goal pace are my favorite way to gain some confidence about a goal race. Before Eugene, I practiced the feel of 8:00 miles so much that I guarantee I could have done them without a watch. So for Bellingham (the next half-marathon on the horizon), I’ve been playing with 7:15. Not a lot, but just enough to where my lungs and legs can start to know how it feels.

On Wednesday, however, it was time to step it up: I set out for 5 tempo miles, sandwiched between a warm-up and a cool down. The goal of those miles was to simulate a race plan (start slower, finish faster) and mimic the pace I would ideally hold for a 1:35:xx finish. I was nervous, I was unsure, but it had to be done:

Here are the results:

8:20 (w/o)

7:19

7:19

7:13

7:13

7:07

8:20 (c/d)

I’m not calling it a game changer, but that one workout gave my self-doubt-filled brain a jolt of inspiration. Maybe, it turns out, this goal isn’t too far-fetched. It might take a little more time and more races than just Bellingham (9/29), but I’m starting to feel a little more like that giddy, speed-hungry girl from a few months ago.

And yes, it really only took one workout. I can’t explain it, but yesterday—those paces that have felt way too fast and way beyond my capabilities felt a little more like mine. Instead of thinking those paces belonged to more experienced, faster runners that weren’t me—I felt like maybe I’m a little more entitled to them than I previously thought.

The goal now is going to be to really embrace that “ownership,” and I know I might need to be patient. From the onset, I had it in my head that Bellingham was going to the *the* race to make that 1:35:xx happen. There’s still a chance, but instead of putting all my eggs in that basket, I’m going to work more toward really getting stronger and more comfortable at those paces than just gutting them out for one race. The ultimate goal is to improve my speed overall, that’s what my goal was for this fall, and while a half-marathon PR is a good tangible step during that process, it’s not the end-all finish line.

The reason I’m not running a fall marathon this year is two-fold: one, I’ve run a marathon during the past four racing seasons, and I want to stave off burnout while resting my legs for a (potential) Boston Marathon run next spring. The second part, however, is to focus less on mileage and focus more on speed. So far, that hasn’t necessarily been the case considering the distance I had to put in for the ultra relays. And that’s fine! I had such a fun time at those relays, and I feel so fortunate I was able to participate in them.

However, it’s time to get back to work. Kind of like school starting again, it’s time to get a little more regimented if I want to get serious about improving my speed. It was hard to say no to a fall marathon this year, even though I knew it would ultimately keep me healthier and keep me moving toward my goal of getting faster.

That said, I don’t want to waste this opportunity. I’m a big believer that our comfort zones are meant to be broken, and our limits are supposed to be tested, and it’s time to practice what I preach.

Fall is here folks, and it’s time for this birdie to put on some big girl wings.

“What’s Next?”

That’s the question I can’t quite get out of my head lately. Since finishing Eugene, I’ve had a hard time coming up with exactly where I want to focus my goal-setting energy. There have been lots of potential ideas out there, but none of which have really stuck. The only thing I do know for sure is that I’m someone who needs a goal, even if it’s in the distant future. And right now, considering I’m goal-less, I’m going a little stir crazy.

And the relays don’t count…those are really just for fun/I’ll be happy if I simply survive.

There are lots of factors to consider, some of which are out of my control, but here’s my attempt at conveying the big, jumbled picture. Be warned, it’s somewhat all over the place and almost doesn’t even make sense to me.

Since even before I ran Eugene, I was not planning on running a fall marathon. Assuming I got into Boston, I wanted a break for a little while from the 26.2 distance and to save my legs for Marathon Monday in 2014. Had I not qualified, obviously this would have been a whole different story 🙂

There was one exception to this plan though: if I got into the NYC Marathon.

I entered the lottery, just like everyone else, and honestly didn’t expect to get in. That didn’t stop me on Wednesday though (the day of the marathon drawing) from refreshing my bank transactions and NYRR status way too many times. Spoiler: I didn’t get in. As expected.

But what surprised me was just how bummed out I was about it. It made me think that if my one fall marathon prospect gave me such high hopes, maybe I want to/should do a fall race after all?

Who knows.  I do really like the idea of a fall marathon. I absolutely love fall races (way, way, WAY more than spring), and undoubtedly I will be seething with jealousy if I don’t get in on the action.

However, this desire is not at the expense of Boston. I really do like the notion of bottling that 26.2 energy and focus up until next April…and if I was guaranteed an entry, this decision would be a no-brainer.

But that’s the thing. I’m not guaranteed an entry. And with every article and headline that comes out about 2014 being the “Biggest Boston Ever!” I get more and more skeptical of the likelihood of getting in. That would suck, frankly, but it’s a fact that everyone who qualified will have to face. Except probably Shalane…homegirl doesn’t need to worry,

Essentially, then, I don’t want to sacrifice a fall marathon and then not be accepted into Boston. We don’t find out about Boston until the end of September, leaving little to no room to “salvage” a fall/winter marathon.

Then there’s the other options: the ones that completely eliminate any thoughts of a fall marathon in favor of other sports.

There was a point in time when I declared 2013 “the year of the triathlon,” and in case you were curious on how that plan is going…it isn’t.

But! There is that option. Which both excites me and further confuses me. It would be a huge change in gears and a complete overhaul in the training I’m used to. And while I absolutely love the idea of competing in triathlons, I’m not quite sure if I’m up for it right now. Maybe that’s just fear of the unknown talking (or laziness) but something just doesn’t feel quite right about it yet.

So that leaves me with the next choice (the third choice? I lost count): getting away from distance and working on speed.

This is the decision I find myself leaning toward, as I feel like it’s something that I’ve wanted for a while but haven’t really had the chance to really take on.

I constantly feel like there’s an untapped reservoir of improvement that I have yet to really dig into. At the risk of sounding like a total d-bag, I’ve relied a lot on natural ability ever since I started running and racing. Yes, I put in work, but more often than not, I shy away from anything that sounds too “hard.” Essentially, I stay in a comfort zone. And while it seems silly to call the still relatively high number of miles I run a “comfort zone,” it is what I’ve been used to over the past few years.

I really hope that last paragraph didn’t sound too jerky, because that’s not at all what I intended. In fact, my intention was to state that in a lot of ways, I don’t try as hard as I think I could be. And I’m becoming more and more anxious to get over my fears of the unknown and bust a gut for a little while.

I recently realized that I’ve either been training for a marathon or injured for the past three years. Neither of which is very conducive to really working on speed. And it’s kind of funny, since sprinting and speedwork were the only types of running I did when I ran track so many years ago.

The times when I have done a little speed work here and there within marathon training—I actually loved it. There’s something so rewarding about a hard interval workout that feels so different from a long, single-speed run, and despite my self-proclaimed love for the long run…I think I’m ready to shake it up.

…..

I suppose my little narration about the confusion that is my running brain actually turned into a little bit more clarity than I expected. Isn’t writing nice that way? 🙂 Essentially, I think what I’ll do is a combination of all ideas, in smaller proportions. There are some races out there that I’ve all but pulled the trigger on, and I think once I do that, the rest of the specifics will fall into place.