The Boston Marathon is just a short 11 weeks away. Instead of my usual 4 month training cycle I’m working with a shortened 3 month cycle this time around due to my unexpectedly long recovery period after the 50 miler. Just in these past few weeks I’ve really felt like my legs are returning to normal: I have my turnover and speed and springiness back. But my training still isn’t going as smoothly as I would like. I have a weird pain in my right knee. I’m having stomach issues. I quit my corporate job and it’s been majorly stressful. The body can only handle so much stress at once- whether from training, job, relationship, health- it all adds up and once you hit that tipping point things start to fall apart unless you do some damage control (aka recovery).
Yesterday I ran the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon in San Francisco. It’s one of my favorite races and this was my 5th year in a row competing. My plan going into the race was to start slowly and progress to my goal marathon pace, speeding up over the last few miles. On paper I had a great day: I hit my goal time of 1:30 exactly, ran even splits, and ended up putting in over 20 miles on the day. But I wasn’t happy, even with a 7 second PR. I struggled from the beginning. The pace felt hard, my heart rate was high. I didn’t want to push myself, and kept giving myself that out: “it’s just a training run, you can slow down. It’s okay.” I never settled into that comfortable groove where my stride is smooth and powerful. It was a disappointment to me and made me really start to question my sub-3:00 Boston goal. If it’s that hard for me to run 13 miles at 6:50 pace, how on earth am I going to double it on a much tougher course??
But this morning I saw this photo that one of my Impala teammates took of me around mile 11, and it made me rethink my experience. I was there to have fun. That’s what it is all about. I ran a PR! Complete strangers were cheering me on and giving me high fives! I ran a perfectly executed training run after a hard week. No taper. Poor nutritional choices. But I still pulled it out. Why had I been so upset? The whole point of training is to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. It’s about learning to keep pushing when the legs and brain say “NO MAS!!!” It’s about learning to run with your heart. My sub-3:00 goal still scares me, but I’m not as doubtful as I was yesterday. I know if I keep training hard and stay healthy (respecting my recovery!) I will be able to crush my goal. It’s like they say, “if your goals don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.” Dream big, people!