Welp, my marathon is just about here! Even though I’ve been training literally the entire year for this race, it kind of feels like it snuck up right up on me, to be honest!
Looking back at my training, I’d said it was solid overall. I ran a lot more miles than I ever have before. I broke my weekly and monthly training distance records with 60 and 213 miles, respectively, and I put myself on pace for a whole lot of miles in 2014. I also got in two 20-milers and two 21-milers. I think that’s pretty damn huge. I’ve only ever gotten up to two 20-milers before so I’m hoping the addition of the two 21-milers helps me stay strong late in the race when I’ll need it most.
The only thing I’m worried about from my training is the lack of consistent speed work. That was my biggest goal for training, but too many things got in the way (see below) to make it much of a possibility. I did some fartleks here and there and got in some tempo runs, but I’m a bit concerned that I didn’t push my paces enough in training to be able to sustain my goal pace. Though, to be fair, I didn’t do any less than I ever do and my overall paces were a lot faster than they were for Richmond Marathon training last summer/fall. While my 21-mile runs were a lot slower than I would have liked at 8:39 and 8:37 paces, my second 20-mile run was on target at 8:20. My first 20-miler was actually just about at goal marathon pace and included a 20k race (at a blazing 7:37 pace!) after 6.1 “warmup” miles.
This training cycle threw just about everything possible at me: tons of snow, ice, freezing rain, slush, sub-zero temperatures, high winds, a knee injury, and international travel. This winter was absolutely brutal and pretty much turned New Jersey into little more than a frozen hellscape, but I was out there six days a week running in whatever the weather could throw at me. It wasn’t easy and it made most of my speed work impossible, but I have to feel good about sticking with it and not letting the weather beat me. For a while, the only thing keeping me going was keeping the streak of not letting the weather stop me from running alive. It wasn’t until my knee injury back in the middle of training that I had to miss a couple runs. Luckily, I was able to bounce back from the injury quickly and get back into without too much of a hit thanks to treating it very aggressively.
After a week and a half of taper, I feel like I haven’t been running at all. My last long run feels soooo long ago! And my normal pre-race phantom pains everywhere have kicked into full effect.
The only thing I care about right now is getting my BQ. It’s that or bust, as far as I’m concerned. Being up in Boston to cheer for the marathon earlier this week made it even more important to me to nail this race and get up there for 2015. Nothing. Else. Matters.
My BQ time is 3:35, but I’m setting my “A” goal at sub-3:30:00. This is what I’ve been training for all year. This will mean an 8:00 min/mile pace. I think this is possible and a reasonable place to set my goal, but it’s not going to be easy. McMillan predicts 3:30:29 based on my 20k time. While I take that kind of stuff with a grain of salt, it does put me close to where I want to be. My “B” goal is a not-much-slower 3:33:00. This is basically just fast enough to give me a good shot of actually getting into the race, but it doesn’t leave much room for a fast field of qualifying runners. And, lastly, I don’t really have much of a “C” goal, but I guess 3:40 would be about right. I ran a 3:44:55 on a tough and very rainy course in November, so I damn well better do better on a dry and super flat course now!
My race strategy is roughly the same as it was in Richmond and Chicago, I’m going to stick with the pace group through most of the race. I like that it cuts out the variable of having to keep myself on pace and keeps me honest when I say I’m not going start too fast. I plan to stick with the 3:30 group until at least mile 20. At mile 20, I’ll start to evaluate how I feel and whether or not it’s a good idea to pick it up. If I’m feeling really, really good, I’ll pick it up at 20, but if I’m still unsure, I may wait until 22 or 23. I’d be great to have a fast, strong finish, but I don’t want to run a great race and then blow it at the end. I’ll stay conservative here, I think, but once I hit 24 or 25, I plan to push with everything else I have left. Hopefully, I’ll be doing that in front of the pace group and not from behind!
I’ll do what I normally do and have a bagel, apple, and Picky Bar for breakfast and then a vanilla Clif Shot gel while waiting at the start. Then I’ll take another vanilla gel every five miles through mile 20. It looks like the temperature could be hitting 60 by the end of the race so I’ll take water at every stop and probably switch to Powerade/Gatorade at mile 10 or so.
I have a habit of really working myself up before a big race and this one is no different. I’m super nervous about it, possibly even more so than I’ve ever been before. I’m actually nervous like I’ve never done a marathon before, which is silly. I’ve done five marathons and I’m better trained for this one than any before, but I’m still a bit of a wreck. What if I don’t have the resolve to fight through the pain late in the race? Will my lack of consistent speed work become an issue? What about the 15-20 mph winds predicted? Is a high of 60 on race day going to be too warm? Why are my calves so tight right now? Did I make a mistake being on my feet so much this past weekend while in Boston? The list of worries goes on and on.
I’m trying to stay positive about it. I know I put in a lot of work and did the absolute best I could given the weather this winter, but I just fear it’s not enough. I keep reminding myself it’s not the end of the world if I don’t hit my goal. There will be other races. I will get to Boston. And I also kept telling myself that this is a much easier course than Richmond was and I nailed that race in the heavy rain with shoes that were soggy and soaked through before the race even started.
If I don’t BQ this time, I’m not sure if I’ll try again in the fall or not. I’ve got a lot going on this fall and this will be my second 100% effort marathon in five months so I should probably not throw my body into a third-straight hardcore training cycle without a break.
If I do hit my goal, I’m planning to take it easy this fall. I plan to run more races, but do them for fun. I’d like to do two fall marathons at an easy effort and just enjoy them. I’ve already got the Disney Wine and Dine half marathon scheduled for November and I’d like to add another half in there somewhere. I’m also planning to do the Goofy Challenge for the third time in January. All that’s going to be a lot, but I’m not planning to race any of it. Though, I would like to race a few 5ks. I’ve already decided that I don’t want to race Boston either. I see that as a reward and when I run it, whatever year it may be when I finally get there, I want to do it for fun. I want to just take in the experience and enjoy it.
So, I guess that’s about it! The race is two days away and I’m going to try to rest my legs as much as possible and continue eating piles of bagels! I went to Target yesterday to refill my hormones and grab a few high-carb snacks. Instead, I just bought a bunch of candy. Oops!
Lastly, thanks to everyone who provided much-needed support over the last sixteen weeks! Your tweets and blog comments were greatly appreciated! If you want to track me on race day, my bib number is 1217.