Friday, November 2, 2018

Bucket List Update

In September 2012, I wrote a Bucket List.

I thought it would be fun to go back and reevaluate where my head was at six years ago. I have changed so much in these last six years and have many other things I'm focusing on and I figured looking at this list would make me laugh at its absurdity (I also need to do a bucket list regarding non-sports related desires. So many things to do in this life and so little time!).

It's actually not that crazy of a list!

1. Run a sub-4 hour marathon. I have always had the ability to run a sub-4. I just didn't really believe it...something just about every marathoner has struggled with. The only time I tried before this past year was back in 2012. Unfortunately, the weather was horrendous and I completely fell apart and didn't even come close. A few weeks after this, however, I ran a 1:51 half. I was in shape to go sub-4 at this time in my life but a combination of the wrong kind of training, horrid weather, and a crappy mental attitude made that impossible. I didn't believe I could or even try again until 2017. That's when I succeeded....TWICE in five weeks. Although my December 2017 race was about a quarter mile short I still consider it a sub-4. I was feeling awesome at that end of that race and it's just really unfortunate that it was mismarked. Let's just count my 10 minute warm up before the race and call it a full marathon, ok? Awesome, thanks.

2. Run an ultramarathon. Nope. Haven't done this. My last long trail race, a 30K at night back in 2013, kind of turned me off to trail races of any kind of significant distance. I like running trails, but other goals have gotten in the way of me making trail running a habit. I haven't tapped into the desire to run an ultra. So I would no longer consider this a bucket list item.

3. Boston Qualify. I didn't even get the qualifying times right when I wrote this post. I said I needed a 3:50 at age 45, and it was actually 3:55. Super cool I got to knock two items off my list in the same race. Now I really do have to run a 3:50, however, as the qualifying standards shifted by another 5 minutes. Seven years ago, you could run a 4:00 marathon as a 45 year old and it's now 10 minutes tougher. I'm actually really glad for this. It makes me that much more focused on quality training. Plus, hopefully this means most qualifiers can actually gain entry into the race, instead of 25% being denied entry. Oh, and that silliness I wrote of maybe not actually running Boston, but just qualifying? Ha! I'm definitely running that race! Go watch the Boston documentary and you'll understand why.

4. Complete a triathlon. I've done seven! I think? But I only competed for two seasons. That part of my life may be behind me, but you never know!

5. Run around Lake Georgetown in its entirety. Have not even come close, nor attempted this in any way, shape, or form. I think my longest run on the lake might be 8 miles. When or if I get into trail running, I will for sure do this. It's a little over a marathon, with a lot of technical parts, so it's not for the timid.

6. Run the Rome Marathon. I'd still love to do this, but it won't be in 2020. Funny thing is, this was actually going to be my husband's one-and-done marathon, but he ran his first this year. Yes, honey, I said your "first." You're going to run another one.

7. Century Ride. Longest ride is 53 miles so I am a very long way away from this goal. I don't know when I'll spend the time to build up to this, but someday I would like to. Cycling has not appealed to me in about a year. I actually have a bit of a fear of it because of the horrible attitude of drivers towards cyclist and the number of accidents that cyclists suffer with cars. I'm simply a little afraid of getting back out there.

8. Run Rim to Rim (to Rim?). I'm thinking one way across the Grand Canyon is plenty, and yes, I'd love to do it still!

9. Back to back marathons. Um...nope. This will not happen. I did back to back 5Ks and half marathons in one weekend and that destroyed me. I was injured for months and had to back out of a marathon because of it. Taking on something like that just doesn't work for me. So we can say goodbye to this item!

10. Complete an Ironman. Sooooo....this was a joke entry, but there was actually a few months last year when I decided that I was going to do an Ironman (clearly I was on drugs). Because I have not gotten back my desire for triathlons, I'm putting this on the back burner, maybe indefinitely.

So, six years later I have completed three of my bucket list items. I'm keeping four of them (Lake Georgetown, Rome, Century Ride, and Rim to Rim), and getting rid of the other three. With only four items on my list, I need some new ones. So here we go:

1. Run a marathon with my husband. We were going to do this in Boston, but the cutoff was so insane that he missed it despite a 4:43 cushion. Still bitter, still sad, and still frustrated as hell. But we will run a marathon together. I'm thinking either CIM next year since I deferred my 2018 entry, or Chicago in 2020 since we have guaranteed entry (unless they change the current rules), but we will see if I can convince him.

2. Qualify for New York City Marathon. It's already insanely difficult to qualify. I would need a 3:38 full or a 1:42 half and although 3:38 was my original goal for Boston, my injury has my time goal up in the air. I would LOVE to qualify and run it just once. I'll keep working at it.

3. Break 7 minute pace in a 5k. My best is 7:12 pace. And it was a short course, but details. It's not easy to chip away at 5K pace, and getting another 12 seconds per mile out of my legs would be pretty epic. I'd really have to focus on that kind of goal, however, and I'm just having so much fun with the endurance stuff right now.

4. Break 8 minute pace in a half marathon. I wanted to attempt this in Houston in January, but I have lost too much fitness from my injury layoff so it's really unlikely to happen yet, but I really really really do want to accomplish this! I need a fall 2019 half marathon, maybe?

5. Pace a marathon. I keep saying I'm going to be a pacer. I just need to do it! A couple more solid sub-4 marathons under my belt and I will feel more comfortable with the idea.

6. Win a race. I have actually come so close to accomplishing this. Not looking for an overall win (ha!), but overall female. Three times I have come in 2nd in a race, and 3rd twice. The thing is, if you're not a super fast runner and I'm not, it's really a combination of picking the right SMALL race and hoping nobody fast shows up! The shorter the race, the better for me. To actually outright win one would be the coolest thing, even if it's because of luck! Super long shot, but always a fun thought.

And now to come up with a non-sport related list....how fun! What's on your bucket list??



Monday, October 29, 2018

I am my own coach...for now

Do I use a coach? I have had many people ask me this, and many people suggested I hire a coach when I talked about wanting to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

No, I don't use a coach. I am my own coach. I have all sorts of reasons for making this choice.

I have been coaching runners both professionally and as a volunteer for about 8 years. I became RRCA certified nearly six years ago and briefly had my own business. My volunteer duties with a local running club ended a few years ago but have been sporadically coaching runners on my triathlon team through our group workouts. I dissolved my business officially last year. I am a full time mom to two high needs teenagers and decided to dissolve my business and instead focus on their needs. Keeping the business did not seem necessary and I knew that down the road, I could always restart that career. The volunteer duties are at my discretion and that works well for me. I also spend some time advising friends on their running and goals and I always enjoy those talks.

I was an ok coach for a bit, and I was actually coached by others during my early marathon pursuits. But I remained a poor marathoner as compared to shorter distances. I absorbed all the knowledge from my RRCA course, tried to listen to others (good and bad advice, unfortunately), and continued to study training methods over the years. I went through a difficult couple of years medically that set me back in my marathon pursuits and took a couple years off from the distance.

In 2016 when my health started on an upswing and I felt like I could give the marathon distance another chance, I decided that I didn't just want to get better, but I wanted to become a good enough to go to Boston. Fortunately, for the 2019 race I'd be aging up and get another 10 minutes added to my qualifying standard, so my target timeframe became September 2017 to September 2018, the qualifying window for the 2019 Boston Marathon.

I had a lot of work to do. I had never taken heart rate training seriously, and few in my training circle had ever really suggested it. I vaguely had an idea of my training zones, but honestly wasn't comfortable with the idea of taking it as easy as the heart rate plans suggested. Training a minute or more over my marathon goal pace? That was a tough pill to swallow for my ego, even though I knew that was what I was "supposed" to do. What I always thought felt like easy pace was always too fast, and it took me a long time to realize this. Hence, why I was a crappy marathoner. When you are in big group settings and being pushed by others, it becomes very difficult to tune that out and do what you know is right for YOU. Having never been a runner until I was well into my 30's, I hadn't learned discipline yet and it took me forever to shut out the noise. Honestly, I needed to tune everything out and get into my own head, on my terms.

I didn't want to hire a coach. I wanted to do this on my own. I wanted to work around my own schedule, to be able to still train a couple times per week with my triathlon group, to analyze my own data without prying eyes, and frankly, I wanted to see if I could do it. I realize this sounds incredible stubborn, and I was incredibly stubborn.

Plus? Coaches are expensive and my family did not need another expense. Remember those high needs kids? One of them has needs that are quite expensive and that was way more important to me than anything else. I could coach myself for free, and I liked that.

If I failed, I'd suck it up and hire a coach.

In the meantime, I spent the rest of 2016 getting to know "heart rate training." It was a process and I was ok with it that first year. My body responded well, I had a good half marathon that October that told me I was going in the right direction. Unfortunately, I had not been able to completely control my asthma, and struggled in warm and humid weather considerably. My January 2017 marathon was very warm and humid and I had no choice but to take it easy during that race. I was very fearful of going into an asthma attack. But, I was happy with my race, although it was 40 minutes over what I would need later that year in order to qualify for Boston and 18 minutes over my PR set in 2014.

Meanwhile, I continued to read as much as I could, to pour over article upon article about training as smart as possible and adding in volume and getting my head right so I could believe I was capable of reaching a very crazy goal.

In April I changed up my diet and ended up losing 18 pounds by December, and 23 if you go back to my health issues from 2015. I was as lean as I'd ever been and stronger than I'd ever been. My asthma was being controlled better through some treatment changes on the advise of my doctor, and this was a really big deal.

I never relented in my pursuit and to do it ON MY TERMS. This isn't something that everyone can do. Many people need an accountability partner in order to stick to a plan AND I TOTALLY GET THAT. This was very hard on some days, and many times I wanted to just skip a run and sleep in, or to cheat on my nutrition plan, or not do that speed work. Many, many times I struggled.

But every time I looked in the mirror, and every time I analyzed my run data, I saw the vast improvement and it continued to spur me on to keep going.

I wrote a really tough training plan (for me). But I was disciplined when needing to run really easy, and frankly I started to love these easy runs. To not worry about hitting a certain pace felt so freeing to me. I didn't have to feel embarrassed at the time on my watch. It made sticking to the hard days a little bit easier and those hard days were getting better and stronger and I was getting much faster. I did leave one run per week in the hands of my triathlon club leader (on Tuesdays, we did either intervals or tempo runs) and she gave me the paces I needed to run. I sometimes thought she was crazy for saying I could run that fast, but her faith in me pushed me to do it. I'm not sure I would've had that same discipline without her. Christine remains a huge reason why my I developed my confidence.

I spent a lot of time working on my mental strength. While you do feel the physical effects of the distance as you enter your last hour of the race, most of the struggle truly is in your head. I knew that I needed to silence my doubt so I read as much as I could on the subject and felt much more mentally tough heading into my race season.

Writing my own training plan and being accountable to myself worked so well (thank God!) and I succeeded in my goal to qualify for Boston. My qualifying race gave me a 28 minute PR, and I ran it 46 minutes faster than the year before. I squeaked into Boston.

During this last year, I also ended up coaching my husband. He basically used the same plan that I had used, even though it was actually his first marathon. He wanted to BQ, too. He succeeded but unfortunately didn't make the cutoff to run Boston (9 damn seconds!!). This told me that how I was approaching training was working, that I had come up with a really good formula, and that I would stick to it.

I do believe that if I hadn't become injured (pulled muscle from strength training aggravating by interval running), I would have had a pretty good shot at setting a new PR at my planned December 2 marathon. I was running well through the summer, despite the horrid weather that just wouldn't go away. I tweaked the plan a bit to make it higher volume and a little more intense and I was getting through it, although there were definitely still times I wanted to sleep in instead of run. I'm very disappointed I had to pull the plug on my races and I'm basically starting over as I ease back into running after a four week layoff.

So there you have it. I am my own coach. I experimented with it and took a big chance that between my plan and my triathlon team leader's guidance, I could improve enough. Will I hire a coach in the future? Maybe! But right now, this works for me and I enjoy the challenge. We are all individuals and with different needs as runners, and what works for one person may be bad for another person. Only we can decide that for ourselves.

We make a great team!




Monday, October 22, 2018

Defining a Different Goal

I'm so glad that as far as injuries go, mine is pretty minor. I didn't tear anything (we don't think), I don't need surgery, it's not going to keep me sedentary for long. Unfortunately, pulling your hamstring isn't a quick fix, so it certainly derailed my training considering it happened in my build up before my December 2 marathon. I could have continued to train through it, but it would be with pain on every run and it could have led to a torn hamstring, which is a brutal injury. Rather than being dumb, I chose to be extremely cautious and totally stopped running. In the past four weeks, I have only run four times. The first run a few days after the injury was a test run and with it came pain in every step. It gave me a lot of good data to pass on to my doctor, however, so it wasn't without positives. I tried again weekend before last but within a few minutes I knew it would be a very short run. Then this past weekend I finally feel like I had a breakthrough, with a good 3 mile run with minimal pain, and then a four mile run with no pain this morning (although my hamstring is a little bit achy afterwards). My last real quality run was on September 25 and I've missed 200 miles of training runs.

I have focused on physical therapy, upper body strength, core strength, and have thrown in a little swimming. I never really knew how difficult being sedentary would be for me, but I don't do well without a physical activity routine and the mental health therapy that goes along with the long hours of running. It's a part of me. I don't subscribe to the "running is life" mantra that a lot of endurance athletes tout on social media, but I really do miss it. I'm glad that I have other activities that I can do, although the hours of cardiovascular work can't be duplicated. My endurance gains are definitely going to be gone by the time I get back into it! My four miler this morning wasn't all that easy compared to pre-injury days.

So how does my leg feel? I was surprised that I didn't feel my hamstring during my run today. I'm expecting a little discomfort as it continues to heal. There is tightness in my posterior chain and that will need to be continually worked on. I am acutely aware of any twinge that I feel. Thankfully I have so many exercises that I can do to work on my deficiencies and I am doing them every single day.

So now that I have had to defer my October 28 half marathon and December 2 marathon, I will need to forge a new path to Boston on April 15. Now that I know I'm okay to start regularly running, I will need to rewrite my training plan and basically start from scratch. I'm hoping I will see some glimmer of leftover cardiovascular endurance soon. It's crazy how fast we can lose that fitness, however. I won't be running consecutive days for a little bit longer, and I need to build up my weekly mileage slowly.

In 13 weeks I have the Aramco Houston Half Marathon. That should be plenty of time for me to get into shape to race and I absolutely LOVE that race. I have several friends racing both the half and the full so I expect it to be lots of fun. Twelve weeks later is Marathon #15!!

I'm a believer in things happening like they should no matter how painful the path may become. I made it to Boston by a mere 15 seconds, it will be 15 months between marathons for me, it will be my 15th marathon, and it's on the 15th of April. I'll take a 15 second PR that day! Or maybe it'll be 15 degrees out? (only if it's 15 Celsius) Yes, I know I'm weird.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Big Fat Change of Plans

You know what sucks? Bad news on top of bad news.

So....I'm injured. I pulled my hamstring....and did quite a number on it. If you've ever pulled your hamstring you know that the recovery time pretty much sucks and it's a long process. It can plague you for MONTHS if you don't let it properly heal. There's a small possibility there's a small tear in it (not likely) but the treatment is the same regardless. REST. REST. REST.

I've battled with my head repeatedly in the last week on whether I'm going to fight through this, hope to be back to running sooner rather than later, and still be able to salvage my 2018 racing season.

Yeah....NOPE.

I'm going to rip the bandaid off and say that I'm officially out of the Houston Half Marathon and the California International Marathon. In reality, I need to absolutely rest my hamstring if I want it to be back to normal in time to ramp up my training again for the Boston Marathon. Fighting through this is simply not worth it when I look at the big picture. CIM is only 61 days away. I simply do not have the time to rest and then be back in the right shape to run a good marathon. I do not want to toe the line just to finish this race and then potentially be back at square one because I re-injure myself.

On the bright side, I can defer both races to 2019 for a minimal charge. The husband *may* even have said something about "should we run CIM together next year?" I may hold him to that!

It was a super crappy week last week, first with me getting injured and seeing just how serious it was, and then finding out the cut-off for Boston was 4:52, leaving Greg off the official entry list. What a freaking rollercoaster of crap.

The good news is that I booked flights on points, so it's easy to cancel. My hotel can be canceled for no penalty. Even better? We are actually heading to that area two weeks before CIM because a friend is getting married (best news I've gotten in the past week!!). So while I'm canceling one flight, I'm booking another! I can still hopefully squeeze in a little time with the friends I'm not able to see for CIM.

Even better news? I just happened to look at flights for Boston. They were so stupid unbelievably cheap that I booked those, too. I was flight booking crazy this morning.

This is not how I envisioned ending 2018. I was having a pretty great training season, despite being sick of the icky weather. I felt strong and was very much looking forward to running a race like California International Marathon. I wanted to requalify for Boston with the new, tightened 2020 standards. I wanted to test my speed on 10/28 in a half marathon in Houston. I was even going to race a 10 miler this coming weekend. It's hard to let go of three races just like that.

I still have the Aramco Houston Half Marathon on January 20 to look forward to. That was my "A race" half marathon anyway. I should be well on my way to being back to normal by then if I play my cards right now.


Thursday, September 27, 2018

What a crazy-ass journey!

Oh my gosh, today sucks.

Boston Athletic Association finally announced the 2019 Boston Marathon cut-off time for entry into the race.

4:52

You had to run 4:52 under your standard in order to gain acceptance into the race. Absolutely nuts!

Greg was 4:43 under his qualifying time. So he got the denial email. The disappointment we feel is hard to put into words.

Nine freaking seconds.

If you've followed my BQ journey, then you know that my husband was not a marathoner before I qualified. He enjoyed running, had raced shorter distances, and was quite talented, but wasn't planning on running a marathon any time soon.

When I qualified, he decided he wanted to run Boston with me. So he signed up for a race. I've blogged about it a few times:

My husband the marathoner

Go Time

Boston Bound times two

There was always the chance that the cutoff would be something massive this year, but we never fathomed it would be more than his cushion.

When I saw the Facebook post from the B.A.A. today, I was instantly devastated. He worked so hard and sacrificed so much to work towards this goal and he nailed it. He ran such an incredible race, fought for every single second, and earned that BQ. To have it not be quite good enough for entry is a really tough pill to swallow.

I am incredibly proud of him. He did this for me, to be able to experience a bucket list item with me, and wanted so badly to be there with me at the starting line and the finish line and every single step of the 26.2 miles in between. I can't even put into adequate words how I feel about him and what he did for me. He will always be a Boston Qualified marathoner!

I feel like I'm the luckiest wife in the world to be married to someone like him. And I am so heartbroken for both of us. I am still incredibly excited to run the Boston Marathon next year but I can't help but think that I will feel like something is missing.

I barely made it in, with only 15 seconds to spare over the cut-off. If I hadn't been able to speed up during mile 26 at my qualifying marathon (it was 17 seconds faster than mile 25), I would've been less than 4:52 under and out of luck.

I also can't help but thinking that the debacle of a short course in Mississippi in December is a true blessing in disguise. I blogged about that race here:

Disappointment and Learning to move on

Success

I would not have run a fast enough time in Mississippi if the course hadn't been short and disqualified. The best I could've done was a 3:50:45, only 4:15 under my standard. I summed it up in the January 17 post:

It's interesting to me to look back on the past 38 days and everything that's happened. I BQ'd on December 10, only to see that the course was short. My time would've been just under 3:51 had the course been accurate. I had to recover fast and smart and try not to lose too much fitness over the next five weeks so I could do it again. I BQ'd again, this time by more than the 4:00 minute buffer I would've had in Mississippi. I think that's a really big positive to take out of this. I had a better finish time in Louisiana, so I have to see that as a silver lining to the stress from the last five weeks. Had my BQ counted in Mississippi, I doubt I would've raced as hard in Louisiana, and quite possibly would've only run the half marathon. 

I probably wouldn't have run a 3:49 in Louisiana and would not be running the 2019 Boston Marathon. 

The short course in Mississippi was a GOOD thing for me....who would've thought that at the time?

But in the meantime, the Hahn house is a sad and disappointed house. We are not angry. There's absolutely nothing that could have been done or anything that we could've controlled to have a different outcome. My husband raced as hard as he could and left everything on the course. There just happened to be a massive interest in the Boston Marathon and an impressive number of fast Boston Qualifiers out there this year. They only took 220 applicants out of more than 7600 who applied with less than a 5 minute cushion. 2.8% is all they could take! They had a record number of applicants, at over 30,000.

I would still love to run a marathon with my husband. He has no desire to try to qualify again. With the new standards, he needs to be even faster and I can totally understand not wanting to put himself through that. There are other races out there and perhaps we will find one that is meaningful for both of us.

Damn, I love that man.


Monday, September 17, 2018

The Process

I began this blog post last week and then decided to not post it until after I gained acceptance into the Boston Marathon. Well....

I AM IN!!

I got my confirmation of acceptance today and of course, immediately burst into tears. In the lead up to this morning, the Boston Athletic Association was making it really clear that it would be tougher than ever to get into the race.

Here's my post from last week:

*****


It's finally here...registration week!

I have lots of family and friends who are not runners, and I know the Boston Marathon process can seem pretty darn confusing. When I first started running, I had no idea you had to qualify to run it. And then I had no idea they had a charity program. And then they changed up all the rules a few years ago, and it got more confusing.

Qualifying doesn't necessarily get you into the race. You can check "Qualified for Boston" off your bucket list, but to secure a spot at the starting line, it can be tougher than that.

Back in 2012, Boston changed up the rules because the race was selling out so fast and some of the fastest runners out there weren't getting into the race. The qualifying standards got tougher, and they instituted a rolling registration schedule.

Currently the qualifying standards are as follows. They are based on gender and age group, and your qualifying time needed is based on your age on Boston Marathon race day.

MEN

18-34: 3:05
35-39: 3:10
40-44: 3:15
45-49: 3:25
50-54: 3:30
55-59: 3:40
60-64: 3:55
65-69: 4:10
70-74: 4:25
75-79: 4:40
80+: 4:55

WOMEN

18-34: 3:35
35-39: 3:40
40-44: 3:45
45-49: 3:55 <----that's me!
50-54: 4:00
55-59: 4:10
60-64: 4:25
65-69: 4:40
70-74: 4:55
75-59: 5:10
80+: 5:25

The qualifying window is typically 7-19 months prior to race day, mid-September to mid-September. Registration is in the September in the year prior to the race. The qualification window for the race will close when registration closes, so you can qualify right up until the last minute.

The registration process goes on for about 2.5 weeks. It is a rolling admission schedule, starting with the fastest qualifiers in his or her age group.

The first day of registration, in this case September 10, is for those who met their standard by 20 minutes or more. On the third day, September 12, it is opened up for those who met their standard by 10 minutes or more. On the fifth day, September 14, it is opened up for those who met their standard by 5 minutes or more. Each new group gets a chance to register provided the field size has not been met.

The second week of registration, starting on September 17, includes all qualifiers provided they reopen it. They will announce the evening of September 15 if they are reopening registration for all qualifiers. Then registration is typically open for a couple more days, and then they will announce if the field size has now been met and if they will be able to accept all qualifiers up to this point. With the exception of 2013, there have been too many applicants for the available spots and this is where it kind of sucks.

Because there are too many applicants, they have to determine where a cut-off needs to be. It's not first-come, first-serve, but rather based on how far under your qualifying time you were able to run. Last year was the strictest cut off since they began this new process, at 3 minutes, 23 seconds under your respective qualifying standard. So if you ran a 3:31:37 and you needed a 3:35 to qualify, you got in. But if you ran a 3:31:38, you did not. Pretty brutal!

It takes them over a week to determine what this cut off is going to be since it's based on how many register and who registers. I would imagine it's a nerve-wracking wait to find out if you are really getting in or if you'll have to try again next year.

I have a cushion of 5 minutes, 7 seconds, so I get to register on September 14. I will be on pins and needles waiting for the announcement on September 15 on if they will be reopening registrations for all qualifiers. If they do, then I know my cushion was big enough.

Greg has a cushion of 4 minutes, 43 seconds. So he has to wait until September 17 and will be one of those who is on pins and needles. However, I would imagine if they reopen, then that kind of cushion should be enough. You never know for sure until the announcement, but I think he'd be pretty safe.

I had an interesting road to my qualification. My first shot at it, at Mississippi Gulf Coast, ended in disappointment not because I didn't run fast enough, but because the course was mismarked and came up short. I calculated that had it been accurate I probably would've qualified with about a 4:10 cushion, not fast enough to avoid the dreaded wait. But because Boston is not accepting any times for that race, I had to run another qualifying time. I did that in Baton Rouge a few weeks later, and ended up with a bigger cushion that what I would've had in Mississippi. While at the time, the shock of a messed up course was agonizing after all that hard work and a great race, it could end up being a blessing in disguise. I honestly don't think I would've pushed as hard at the Louisiana Marathon knowing I had already qualified with over 4 minutes to spare. Or maybe I would've wanted that 5 minutes. I just don't know for certain. Instead, I HAD TO qualify to actually get the opportunity to apply to run Boston. Wouldn't it be crazy if the cut off is 4:15 or something like that? I'm not sure I would've been fast enough in Mississippi! That truly would've sucked.

So there you have it. The crazy Boston Marathon registration process.

They will also be indicating if there will be any changes to the qualification standards for future races. Will they toughen the standards again? Should they? I'm in the camp that thinks they should toughen the standards starting in 2021, particularly if it's a very large cut off again this year. But maybe it'll be smaller and they won't feel the need to tighten things. It certainly would give me a kick in the pants to push myself even harder in the coming years if I want to continue to qualify.

*****


And now....here we are on Monday, September 17, and they did reopen registration for all qualifiers, but they very clearly stated that they would only take a "small percentage" of Week 2 submissions. The cut off is going to be massive. Greg is sitting on a 4:43 under and he registered this morning. He will need to wait about 9 days to find out if it's enough. I think he'll be just fine and we will REALLY celebrate when he gets that email!




Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Training Update

For crap's sake, I'm ready for the cold temperatures of fall and winter.

This summer has SUCKED!! I don't remember the last time I ran in weather that was under 75 degrees. I had a taste of a sub-70 dew point last week and it was glorious, but once in dozens of training runs is definitely not enough!

Give me frozen boogers and numb fingers, please.

Of course, when that actually happens, I'll be wishing for tank top running weather. Isn't that how it always is?

I am in Week 9 of California International Marathon training and it's going well. Not spectacular because, like I said, the weather sucks and I'm pretty much totally sick of "80 degrees at 5:30am" training runs. But I am not injured, my endurance is really good, and I'm enjoying training nonetheless.

I just wish I could see my speed and know where I really truly stand with my marathon goals. Pretty hard to do that when it's so oppressive and it takes major discipline to keep my heart rate in control during 18 mile training runs, discipline that means I'm running pretty slow so I don't burn out and overdo it and end up injured.

Let's talk some positives now....

My heart rate data is better than last year, and yet the weather is worse. I'm consistently keeping a lower average heart rate during easy, recovery, and long runs. This morning I ran 8 miles and tried to keep a faster cadence and push a bit more than a very easy run, but never looked at my watch data. At the end of the run my average heart rate was 129, solidly Zone 1 and 2. But I was quicker than usual (not fast, definitely not fast!). For it being 100% humidity out and a pretty long run for mid week, I'd say that was great!

My interval times are faster. It might not seem like much to see a half mile interval split faster than this time last year when you compare that to racing 26.2 miles, but it's still a positive data point.

I'm putting in higher volume earlier in training and I'm not dying (yet) from it.

It's so easy for a marathoner to get burned out trying to train in the summer, and it's hard to see fitness improvements when you know you're running way slower than ability because of the weather constraints. I like to keep a few things in mind while I train through this and wait for cooler temps. First, it's okay to be slow right now. It's okay for the intervals to be a bit shorter right now. It's okay to ease into goal pace work during long runs. My main concern is building my endurance and watching my effort level, to becoming comfortable with faster paces during intervals, to watching my heart rate trends and seeing them move in a positive direction week over week, and to take my recovery very, very seriously.

When the temps start trending down this upcoming week, I am hoping to see my training improve with regards to pace vs effort level. I think I saw a glimpse of that this morning. Plus, if last Friday's run in better weather is any indication, this improvement should be pretty noticeable. I have a long run planned this weekend with four goal marathon pace miles. I'm actually looking forward to this because it should give me a lot of good feedback to use in my future training weeks. The temps will hopefully be a few degrees cooler than they have been but even if they aren't, it's *only* four race pace miles. I can do four!

I'm pushing myself into 45+ mile weeks now, and a 200 mile month for September. Next month I have two races planned to gauge my fitness. On October 7 is a 10 mile race and on October 28 is a half marathon. I have never raced a 10 miler before, but I have an idea of how I want to approach it. What I'm really curious about is how fast I can run a half marathon. My PR is old as dirt and I haven't broken 1:50 yet and I haven't ever attempted it. I really REALLY want to obliterate 1:50. So Houston, could you pretty please give me good racing conditions on October 28? K thanks.

Things for me to keep in mind as these weeks get tougher leading up to my December 2 marathon:

1. Consistency. Show up and do work everyday, whether it's a hard effort or a recovery run. Every run has importance and I need to take them all seriously. My friends will just have to understand why I can't stay late at that party on Saturday night.

2. Self care. More sleep, better eating habits, consistent hydration, stretching and rolling. Keep the damn cookies away from me. I ain't eating them!

3. Recovery. Why do people have such a hard time with this concept? If you ran hard every single time you laced up your shoes, you would never improve! Recovery effort is Zone 1! If that means you run 11:00 pace when your marathon pace is 8:45, then that's what you run. Truthfully in the summer I find it pretty hard to stay completely in Zone 1, but trust me when I say I am crawling and I'm not even breathing heavy in very low Zone 2 so I cut myself some slack here. I am totally in love with runs like this.

4. Warm up. That first mile is a really easy one, for every single run. When I take that seriously, the rest of my run goes so much better. I'm almost 45 years old. I need to warm up, dammit. On Tuesdays when we do our intervals and tempo runs, our first mile is often well over 11:00 pace. We take it very easy and incorporate drills a few minutes in. When we start our first speed interval, our bodies are ready for it. This will be especially important to do prior to any race start.

5. Believing in myself. It might seem crazy to consider approaching 8:30 pace for a marathon, but at one point I thought under 8:50 pace was insane, and I did it twice in five weeks. I'm in better shape now and I have to believe I'm capable of improvement.

6. Celebrating the small victories. Was my pace 10 sec/mile faster at the same effort compared to my run two weeks ago? That's a victory! Did I maintain Zone 2 over three hours into my long run? Victory! Did 7:30 pace during my interval feel almost easy compared to last week? Another victory! Every little improvement gives me more confidence to take into the next run.

I have 88 more days until California International Marathon. 12 weeks, 4 days. Lots of time to train, to get stronger, to get more confident.