There’s no shortage of heroic stories for the finishers of the 2018 Boston Marathon, one of the worst weather Boston Marathons in the history of the race. Finishing this race was a victory in and of itself, and it took every ounce of my being, grit, and willpower to not quit. This was my second Boston and my 13th marathon. Here’s how I didn’t quit the 2018 Boston Marathon. Continue reading
I first started training for the 2018 Boston Marathon the day I finished it in 2015, and more officially in December 2017. I (over)confidently decided to use the same ASICS sub-3:30 plan that had worked for me at Chicago. I’ve never trained the same way twice and despite my intentions to followthe same plan, it did not go according to plan. It’s tempting to blame the weather, but I really can’t. I have the gear and although this winter did truly suck, I rarely missed a run because of it and there are runners who had far worse winters than me so I’ll just park that excuse over there and move on to how training really unfolded for my 13th Marathon.
Back in December I looked at the 16-week plan and felt like if I spent the first four weeks rebuilding my base, I’d be right on track to really dive in for 12 weeks of solid training. And that sort of worked. But it was cold, and icy, and dark. So I took the 5 days a week down to 4 and decided to – for real this time – add in strength and cross-training.
Enter yoga. In October 2017, I started tagging along with a yogi runner friend (who now teaches!) to some classes at YogaWorks. Fortunately, I got hooked. I decided yoga is the ying to my running yang and is the thing I’ve been missing in all my running. I started to feel stronger. I discovered a new appreciation for stretching and strength training simply using my own
body weight as the core weight. My new obsession with yoga meant that I was trying to add it in 1-2 times a week. This worked pretty well most of Jan
uary and February. And then March hit with work events, changes in our family logistics, longer runs, weekend commitments, and yoga started to take a back seat. The good news is, I think about it all the time and I continue to practice the headstand which is something I hope to really master and evolve by the end of this year. And I’m definitely looking forward to bringing it back into my routine with some consistency.
This round of training I can safely say I had a training-life-work balance. I gave myself the flexibility to move runs around within the week, change up mileage, and accept the outcomes for what they were. In the moment, this felt like a good balance. Two weeks before the race, I’m just shy of panicking that I did it all wrong. I didn’t feel stressed in the moments of training, but I also didn’t feel “all in” all the time. I was proud of myself for working in yoga and rides on my bike trainer. I did speedwork, sort of, usually on Tuesdays. I kind of had some tempo runs but not nearly at the paces I had last summer. I did the long runs: one 20, one 21, one 18, and several in the 15-17 range. The good news is that with the exception of one 17-miler, I felt really good on these long runs. My fueling is good (something I learned and practiced 3 marathons ago thanks to training from Coach Scott) and once I get past the mental barriers that are inevitable in most long runs, my mental game is also pretty strong.
The caveat there is that my mental game is strong while running. For reasons I cannot put my finger on, this training cycle is missing my obsession. It’s the BOSTON MARATHON. I am beyond lucky to have the opportunity to run this race for the second time. I qualified for it, well within my age group’s BQ window, and I even earned myself a 2019 BQ in the process. I know in my heart I will love everything about this experience once it is under way. And yet, I’ve struggled to truly embrace it. I spend more time trying to figure that out then I do focusing on all the things I could be around training. Deep sigh. Perhaps, it’s kind of like any run – they’re all different and they certainly aren’t all perfect.
From Training to Race Day
After 16 weeks of marathon training, I will follow a pretty consistent taper and prep plan. I will have multiple gear options, I’ll have all my Gu ready, I will have obsessed over the weather (that is something I’ll always obsess over), I’ll have studied the course, and the one thing I will have over-thought is Heartbreak Hill and if I’ve done enough in my balanced training to actually be ready for that climb. I still have a lot of questions coming out of this training plan.
I’ll only know the answers on race day.
Author’s Note: This marathon recap was started in Oct. 2017 and finished in Jan. 2018 which is amazing because the experience of the race still feels like yesterday.
The 2017 Chicago Marathon was marathon #12 for me. I’ve not trained for any marathon the same way twice but I have combined the best parts of my past experiences and having just achieved my best personal record yet, I may be a tad closer to a formula for marathon success. From my first marathon eight years ago with a 4:11 finish to my Chicago finish in 3:29, there are a lot of little things that add up to successful marathons. But there are two constants – one is all mental, the other is putting in the work.
It takes a while to get used to running year round and to figure out all the various iterations of layering needed for different cold temperatures and winter elements. I follow plenty of athletes who run in much colder climates than Maryland so in general I’m not sure I have room to complain, or give advice for that matter. That said, my last long run was in 8 degrees with the wind chill factor. I’ve been running year round with the exception of days where it seems dangerous (i.e., icy routes) or when there’s more rain than I’m willing to bear.
Weekends are perhaps one of the most integral parts of training. Saturday and Sunday are designated for long bike rides, long runs, and brick sessions. They are the pivotal point in any training week and are where time and mileage really add up. Up until week 9 of training I seem to have lucked out with weekend weather forecasts cooperating nicely with my training schedule. However, I have to admit to a minor moment of panic when I saw that rain was predicted for an entire weekend.
I’ve run in all sorts of weather. I have run through rain, snow, high winds, heat, and freezing temperatures. I know how to prepare for running in inclement weather and though it’s not ideal it’s something I know I can do and that for the most part, is nothing worse than uncomfortable. Riding in the rain, however, is entirely foreign to me. Continue reading
When it comes to morning running versus night running, winter running versus summer running, or running in the rain versus running in full sunshine, there are many schools of thought about what circumstances make the conditions perfect for running. I tend to prefer morning running as it always allows me to start my day fresh; I’ve gotten used to winter running; and I’m still waiting for my first opportunity to really run in the run.
What I have decided though is that in addition to the perfect time and temperature conditions there are certain weather windows that make running simply enjoyable. Just before it’s about to pour, there is usually a nice breeze, it’s overcast, and in the spring, every smell imaginable seems heightened, to my senses anyway. That pre-rain run is cool, I find the breeze invigorating, and the smell of flowers, clean cut grass, and of course, the indescribable smell just before a rain all make running outside incredibly rewarding. Continue reading
I am a somewhat obsessive weather checker. Weather.com is almost always an open tab on my web browser and at a minimum I look at the the forecast for the day first thing in the morning and before I go to bed I check the hourly forecast for the following morning. Knowing the temperature and predicted precipitation and wind is typically what determines what running clothes I get out in preparation for the next morning.
If there is more than a 40% chance of rain I am on the treadmill. If I wake up and it’s drizzling, I’m on the treadmill. I’ve never voluntarily gone out to run when it’s already raining. I can’t even recall a time where it started raining while I was running. Snow, yes. Rain, no. I’ve not even gone out in a warm sprinkle. But I want to. I don’t want rain to stop me from running outside. A torrential downpour? Sure, I’ll stick with my treadmill routine if it’s dumping, but I am frustrated that I let a simple spring rain keep me inside. Continue reading
There is no question that March came roaring in like a lion for Annapolis and much of the rest of the East Coast this year. This week started with freezing temperatures and more snow than we’ve seen in a couple years. While it was all pretty at first, it sure would’ve been nicer a couple months ago rather than right at the time when everyone has spring fever. By mid-week things were thawing out, snow melting away, the sun shining, and forecasts are predicting a gorgeous weekend of 60-degree weather.
Yesterday was the first tease of the warm weather and driving home from a meeting took me through downtown Annapolis late afternoon. Flocks of people were out walking but many of them were running. I love how the first inkling of warm weather has this magical power over people and gets them up and moving. The first runner I drove by yesterday brought a smile to my face. Continue reading
One of the things I have enjoyed most about having run a marathon is how much I learned along the way. I am very aware that I have barely scratched the surface of most topics related to running and training and I find it encouraging that there is always something new to learn about the sport. Part of running is science and understanding how the body works and how all the muscles work together, and part of running simply personal and figuring out what works best for you.
Considering I was able to finish the marathon, I think it’s safe to say that not that much went wrong, but there are certainly some lessons learned from this first experience and some things I will do different next time. I’ve mentioned before that my running friend and I took a 16-week plan and crammed it into nine weeks. Definitely lesson number one. Continue reading