Ever since the Erie Marathon sold out before I was able to sign up for it, my training has felt sort of…meaningless. I still put in the work, but I had no purpose behind it. And that, friends, is not where I like to be. It’s not good for me, mentally, to not have a plan to execute. I wasn’t just going through the motions, but my heart wasn’t in it. Where there is no passion, there is no joy.
But this week, I made a decision.
I am giving up my hope of a BQ for 2020.
This was not an easy decision to come to by any means. I searched every marathon within driving distance between now and the fall cut-off for Boston. The best courses were all multiple loops…and they just didn’t excite me. I dreaded having to loop the same path 4-8 times (depending on the race of choice). After a lot of thinking on it, pondering it, and just…looking at the races I could do and not feeling excited about training for them…I opted to give myself more time.
The hard part was choosing a fall race. Again, I was limited on distance I could travel due to a birthday cruise I am all signed up for (back when I thought Erie would be a thing and I wouldn’t be training). I narrowed it down to Mill Race, Columbus, and Indianapolis Monumental.
And after weighing the pros and cons…I settled on a race I ran for the first time last year…Indy Monumental.
GOAL: Boston Qualify for 2021
All that being said, let me point out that training has had it’s own ups and downs these days. I used to be someone who could handle the heat…but it ahs been a struggle this year. A big…huge…struggle. It makes me feel out of shape and underprepared. And I haven’t mastered what I need to do to make it easier…if anything. I have hydrated myself, fueled myself, and yet…the struggle, at times, has been beyond real. Especially if I am pushing pace at any point. This is not helping me at all with my confidence. I try not to let bad training runs get to me, but I’m human. And while I can shrug it off after a few hours, it’s just hard when I know I am capable of doing so much better than I am.
So, let’s recap now that I have chosen a race…
Monday: My coach had me down for 6 miles with the instructions to go SLOW. Why? Because Tuesday is usually speed work day and he wants me to have fresh legs for those. I went out easy and kept it easy. In fact, my legs felt really good that morning, so I had to remind myself to ease it back on the pace. Couldn’t ask for a better start to the week.
Tuesday: Speed work. MEH! At least it is my favorite workout: Mona Fartleks. If you haven’t done these…try them. It keeps things interesting and challenging all at once. I didn’t stop as much as I have had to this time around…just for traffic when needed and some hydration when it was hard to do it while moving. My workout was: 2 mile WU; 2×90 sec; 4×60 sec; 4×30 sec; 4×15 seconds (all of which with EQUAL recovery a bit faster than base pace); 2 mile CD. Any stops I made, I tried to make the turnaround time quick.
Wednesday: Short and easy run this morning. 3 recovery miles. And then I went to spin class, because I really jus needed to do something other than running. I’ve missed doing my cross-training and getting my gym time in. I don’t know how I was fitting it in before.
Thursday: Heading toward a full rest day, my Thursday run was 8 miles on paper at base pace. I didn’t check my watch at any point, but it turned out I did 7 of them at or below my Marathon Pace. Whoops. So, I did a cool down mile to make up for that at a much easier pace. I hate having to look at my watch, but I need to be more mindful of my pace on my easy and base pace days.
Friday: REST DAY! (Thank God!)
Saturday: I flip-flopped my long run days this week because I could have company if I did that. Being able to run with someone makes me happy. So, my 10 miler was moved to Saturday. I met up with Ron at 7 am to try to beat some of the morning heat. This was supposed to be at an easy pace and then 2 miles for a fast finish. The 10 miles I ran with Ron were delightful. We lost some shade after we turned around to head back, and it definitely was warming up…but at least we could get each other through it. I ran him to 10 and then I turned around to do my final 2 a bit faster. That part sucked. But at least I got to see some MRTT ladies out there. That always helps when the struggle sets in. I drove home with my air conditioning blaring.
Sunday: I wanted to start early. The humidity has been INSANE here, and it was no joke today. And this was going to be a challenging workout…especially in the heat. It was 75 degrees when I headed out the door at 6:25 am. The humidity and dewpoint made it feel like I was swimming. Immediately. My workout: 1 mile WU; 3×4 miles @ MP w/ 4 minute recovery; 1 mile CD. The warmup felt like a slog and I knew today was going to be hard. I told myself I wasn’t going to let it bother me, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to instructions. I did pretty good on the top half of the run. I stopped a few times to hydrate, but immediately continued on. It was when I turned around at Mile 9, that the struggle became more than real. LOTS of stops. LOTS. And there wasn’t much shade where I was running at that point either, which made it feel 100x harder. But I got a bit of a reprieve when a train was going on the tracks. I sat on some stairs in the shade to wait it out. And when it was safe to cross, I got up and set back out again. But now my body didn’t want to push. I had 2 more miles of marathon pace, and I was stopping more than I was running. I started to play a bit of a game, where I told myself I just had to run to the next street. It got me through, and I listened to my body and stopped at each corner. But I was fading…so I stopped at a shady stoop of a business and sat down for a moment to cool off. I was almost done with marathon pace, but it just didn’t feel like I could go on. I let my heart rate go down and allowed my body to cool down again before I stood up to at least finish off that mile. I managed it and had never been so thankful to run easy again in my life. But the heat and humidity were beating me down even at an easy pace. I ended up in a shaded parking lot, recovering once again. I texted my coach and my roommate to let them know I had a mile to go, but was currently sitting in the shade trying to talk myself into doing the cool down mile. I know better than to push too hard in heat, so I wasn’t mad at the performance, just aggravated that I was struggling so much. I did finally get up, shake it off, and jog myself home. It was one of the hardest runs I have had to get through yet this training session, and I feel like I barely survived it. My coach gave me a pep talk, telling me what I already know…in the summer you have to go based off of effort and not pace. That’s never been easy for me…but it was a good reminder. I made it home. I took a cool shower. And I started to recover as best as I could in that moment.
So…here it is, friends. Another attempt for me to get back to a race that I still feel like, to this day, I never had a fair shake at. I know I am capable of getting there. I just need to get comfortable being a bit uncomfortable this summer. Trust me…this goal is worth all the effort I am putting into it. I am just trying to train smart and keep it real.
And to keep smiling. Because if you can’t smile at the end of the day…it’s not worth doing.