It’s time. I’m sitting on the train headed to DC today, and then Virginia Beach tomorrow for marathon number 2, and to drop a major PR and qualify for Boston in the process.
It’s been an insane winter of training, ranging from running with a face mask in -25 degrees or a 2:45 long run around an indoor track because there simply wasn’t anywhere to get in quality speed work outside. I’m going to draw on that type of mental training when the miles start to get harder this weekend.
I finished last year with a couple of big 5k PR’s, and then totally lost focus and the motivation to run fast without a goal in mind. I decided the BQ would be my next goal, and with a solid base of training for speed in the shorter 5k (dropped PR by almost two minutes to a 17:42 from August through November) with and a whole lot of race day, confidence building repetitions, my coach and I decided to take on the BQ.
My first marathon looked like this, and ended with a nasty uphill climb. I walked quite a bit during the last 4 miles, and while my overall average was 8:12, I was around 10-11 minute miles at that point.
This round of training has been much different. Due to a trip to the Olympics last February, I lost an entire two weeks of training. My 3 longest long runs were 22, 18 and 16 miles. This time around I’ve progressed to 45+ mile weeks (was at 30-35 for first marathon) while adding much more intense speed workouts. I’ve also seriously upped my nutrition game thanks to InsideTracker, which has fueled my ability to recover faster and feel more energized towards the end of harder efforts AND throughout the day after training.
I’ve learned a lot from other runners lately too. I used the mantra “Get Uncomfortable” during the 5k PR in November. It isn’t supposed to be easy! Another thing that has worked has been “it’s hard to hurt when you’re smiling,” which has made me look like a psycho while pushing a 6 minute pace through the hills of Newton along the Boston Marathon course, as well as on a couple tempo treadmill runs at the gym.
My big 5k PR came at a race where I was surrounded by family. My dad was there, as well as my November Project family. The same will be true in Virginia Beach, who just got an official November Project tribe. Despite not actually knowing many of these people prior to race weekend, the community that NP has created is full of incredibly supportive and motivating people.
I read this blog from Deniz, one of the leaders of NP Boston about ten billion times prior to my final 5k PR in the fall. The next day, Evan (another leader) came up to me at the start line and promised to carry me to a PR by pacing me the whole way, which he did. Emily, the 3rd co-leader’s motivating words on the blog and in person have kept me focused and motivated to succeed.
Recently, Shalane Flanagan shared: “My goal is to inspire our next generation to chase down their personal excellence and passion.” The most exciting part of my marathon training this time around is how many people have reached out to say that my focus, determination and progress has been inspiring them to get out there in the snow/wind/cold/rain and set crazy goals for themselves.
That’s what makes it all worth it to me. Personal progress is great, but to be able to inspire others is even better. I’ve had friends decide to sign up for their first marathon, or people on Twitter commit to some crazy goal they’ve been thinking about for months and finally put it out there in writing. My dad is even running his first half this weekend! I’ll remember all of this, as well as much more come race day.
Deniz: “We can only get better if we set the bar high. The part we shy away from is to tell everybody that’s what we want to do. We don’t want to sound cocky. We don’t want to say something, and end up being far away from it and look like a fool. But, that is exactly what we should do: set the bar high and tell everybody about it. That’s how we will get support, that’s how we will inspire others, and that’s how we will excel in what we do.”
As Deniz and Shalane have shared, the real gains come when you verbalize your goals, and not scared to fail. You never know who you’re inspiring.
In about 18 hours I’ll be at November Project DC, after spending Wednesday morning with Project Austin, in Texas. In almost exactly 3 days, if all goes as planned, I will be wrapping up the Shamrock Marathon. Bring. It. On.