Nine weeks until a half marathon and 17 weeks until my first marathon of the season. My first shot at a Boston Qualifying time.
It's sometimes so hard to see the possibility of doing that right now, in the worst part of summer. On the positive side, I am doing pretty well running in the summer. I never thought I'd be relatively comfortable doing 2 hour runs and 30+ mile weeks in the height of summer in Texas. But despite the whining I do in the last 30 minutes of our long runs, I really actually am doing just fine. My average heart rate is consistently staying under 140 and I'm running negative splits.
But it's just so slow. Intentionally slow, but slow nonetheless. It's right where I should be hitting my long runs when the dew point is well over 70 and the starting temp is pushing 80, but wrapping my head around that is still a bit of a problem for me.
I'm doing just fine with intervals, tempos, and hill repeat pacing. I can see all that improving, I can see my cardiovascular strength improving, and I know I'm making progress. But those 10+ minute long runs....ugh....I think realizing the benefit of long SLOW runs is a tough thing in general for marathoners to deal with. It's hard to see that when you run so much slower than goal pace, you're actually doing something good for yourself.
My goal race pace is 8:58 to hit a Boston Qualifying time. I need to aim for more like 8:52 to have any shot in actually making the cut off for entry into the 2019 race, however. My top goal is just hitting the BQ time of 3:55...making it into the race itself will be extra awesome, but is not my main goal. I know this is still such a lofty goal when I've been a relatively crappy marathoner until now, at least compared to shorter distances. Not many people make that big of an improvement in such a short amount of time.
I know that my biggest strength right now, besides my improvement in cardiovascular strength, is my attitude, and while I am struggling to push a few doubts away, I do really believe in myself. Most of the time, at least. But I'm also human and have anxiety and need to take a few deep breaths now and then to calm myself down. My attitude is a thousand times better than it's been in recent years and I'm trying so damn hard to hold onto that!
I've been using my new Garmin for about six weeks now and it's still totally stroking my ego. Its race predictor has me solidly at 3:31-3:36 for a marathon time, way way WAY under my goal. This goal is only truly attainable if one actually seriously trains and that race day weather is on target for a good finish time. I like the fact that my Garmin loves me so much. I think it's a liar about what it says about my ability, but it's still nice to be loved. I figure even if it's way off, that 3:55 goal sounds completely reasonable.
I signed up for a half marathon in October. It's on a notoriously tough course, but I'm not a stranger to tough courses. It's not any harder (I don't think) than the San Francisco (First) Half course, and I PR'd (at the time) in that race. I want to PR my October half, running under 1:51:36. I figure if I can do that with 900 feet of elevation gain, I can hit a 3:55 marathon on a flat course. At least that's what I'm telling myself.
Running a 1:51 or faster on this course will be a bit insane for me. It will NOT be easy. I have nine more weeks to figure it out, to hope the weather is at least a little agreeable, and to try to strategize those hills to even come close to running under 8:30 pace. If I continue to work hard and chip away at my pace, to build my cardiovascular endurance so I can hold a faster pace for longer, and the weather cools, I should be able to do it regardless of the hills. I've been told people just don't PR on that course, but whatever. I haven't ever really been good at listening to people.
When we were on our long run this morning, my teammates and I talked about how it will feel when the weather cools and the humidity cuts us some slack. I have a feeling we are going to be pleasantly surprised at how much faster "easy" pace will be. I'm getting excited about that. I remember last year when I headed to California for a half marathon and the temp and humidity were perfect for race conditions and I felt fantastic. I was comfortable at a much faster pace than I had been running and it was wonderful. I want to feel that again!
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