2015 Boston Marathon, part one: training

As much as I don’t want to lump all my training into one post, for the sake of writing about my 2015 Boston Marathon experience soon, I want to write about the general road I took to get there!

It’s hard to tell if my training went better or worse than last year. I certainly think each spring it has gotten easier; that is, long runs don’t feel so long and fast runs don’t feel so fast. I think that is a roundabout way of saying, I was definitely in better shape. The only complaints I had all winter were mental laziness and ice. The two often went together, so most of my skipped runs were justified. I stopped doing long trainer workouts when my long runs hit over seventeen miles, because they were affecting how I felt for those. If not anything else, those rides certainly reminded me to hydrate. They were also good conditioning for my quads to handle all the hills I planned to tackle during long runs. I did many of the same routes I ran last year, with some small detours. My fastest was on February 21st, when Greta, Erika, and I got 18.3 miles in averaging 7:35 pace before a snowstorm with a ten degree wind chill. My salted caramel Gu was almost solid, and I couldn’t manage to find the finger holes in my gloves after I took it. Fun times.

Long runs: I did five long runs over 18 miles this training cycle: 18.3, 20.3, 21, 18.5, and 18.5. Last year I hit four (18.3, 20, 21, 19), and the year before…one 20-miler (and one 17.8 miler which I “counted”). So, I’ve come a long way. The last one was done at Boston start time in seventy degree weather to prepare for the chance of heat on race day. I’m not so sure I’m glad I did this (it definitely was not warm…), but it didn’t negatively affect the race or anything. The best long run by far was my annual run to Lambertville, which I did entirely with Erika. It was her first time on any of the roads, which made it go by quickly. We averaged 7:45 pace and could have easily kept going. It was my best recovery too; I did a hard hill repeat workout two days later. This was probably due to omelettes and recoverosas.

Tune-up race: I decided I had no interest in any potential half marathon tune-up: E. Murray Todd (March 1) felt too early to race, I didn’t register for the NYC Half ($$$/stress/crowds, March 15), Caesar Rodney would make my car unhappy (March 23), and the Love Run felt too close to race day (March 30). I am very happy I chose the Freehold Area Running Club’s St. Paddy’s 10 Miler on March 15th as my race-before-the-big-race. I drove there alone 20150315_130424knowing no one who was registered, and then found at least three runners I knew, which was nice. I am going to write a separate post about something important I learned during this race that I hope to apply to other races and to life. Here, I’ll provide the spoiler: I won! It was a perfect course on wooded roads with minimal hills, sometimes lonely but that was okay with me. I ran 1:07:17, over a minute faster than my previous PR at the Perfect 10 a year and a half before. After it was a struggle to keep warm as a cold front rolled in (theme for all three races I’ve run this year!), but…I won a garden gnome. It isn’t every day you win a garden gnome.

Workouts: I did fewer workouts than usual this year. I had big plans to do certain key workouts and they didn’t really come together. Most of the problem was either not waking up early enough to fit them in or not eating enough to do them well. I had one great tempo run in February that was one mile longer than I thought it was…but I didn’t realize that until I was done. That was a good feeling. My best workout was the 10x hill repeat workout I did in late March. I decided at the last minute to make it a constant hill repeat tempo, taking the downhills hard. Why not? I was determined to feel better at Boston after mile 20 than I did last year. This fueled almost everything I did to prepare for Boston this year.

Strength training: …especially what I did in the gym. I mentioned in a previous post how I was totally lost in the gym. Well, I did find my way. I surprised myself at how often I got to the gym to strength train (and swim) this winter and spring. I went every Monday night and usually one other morning or night later in the week. The jump-lunges, box jumps, squats, and core exercises I did left me feeling really strong despite not doing a marathon-specific workout every week. I hoped it would be enough to feel strong at mile 23….I talked about this so much people started to say, “wow, you’re really training for those downhills.” Yep. I was also determined to do it on my own (training), because I felt like that would be a good confidence booster, to know I only needed knowledge of the human body to overcome whatever was my weakness last year.

Pain? I know they say marathon training is bound to cause some discomfort. But I never felt any. There was a two-day ITB scare, but then the 21 miler happened without a hitch, so that was that. That was pretty awesome. Because of this fact, I felt like I wasn’t training enough, or at least not to my potential. There’s definitely room to improve though, so I took it as a good thing in the end.

17 days out: I decided not to drink [alcohol] at all until after the race. I bought lots of vitamins I had been cheap about restocking. I also developed a bad cold right after this day, so I was set on feeling 100% on April 20th. If anything went wrong during the race, it was not about to be due to lack of rest and preparation.

By the time I arrived in Boston – on Sunday, the day before the race this year – I was feeling as ready as I’d ever be, but not particularly psyched. I’m still not exactly sure why. I think I made so much of a point to not overthink and get worked up about it that I almost didn’t get excited enough, strangely.

Actual race report to come soon!

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