Monday, September 28, 2015

The Goals and THE Goal - IMM 2015

For many runners, the goal for the first race of a long distance is simply to finish.  The first time I ran a half marathon (Indy Mini, 2007), I just wanted to cross the line in one piece.  I did, in 2:18.  In subsequent years, my goals were related to time, most often trying to best previous efforts.  2:15, 2:11, 2:08.

It became my heart’s desire to break 2:00 in the half marathon.  After multiple setbacks (hip tendinitis, heart rate issues, a femoral fracture), I finally ran a 1:54 at the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon in 2012.  I lowered that time to 1:53 in the Indy Mini in 2014.

Similarly, the goal of my first marathon was merely to finish, which I did by run/walking in 5:53 at the Kona Marathon in Hawaii in 2009.  Even though my next marathon did not go according to plan, I bested the Kona time with a 5:26 at IMM 2013, even after sitting in an ambulance for 45min.  Last year, I ran a terrific race at IMM and finished in 4:12.

So... what’s the goal this year?

Ninth Hour?
All of that said, when I started my IMM training on June 30, I didn’t really have a goal in mind.  After being injured late in 2014 and having health problems throughout the first half of 2015, I didn’t really know how capable my body would be.  You might remember me saying in my “What Should My Fall Race Be?” blog that I wanted to RUN (not race) a full.

However, with the exception of losing my training partner to injury, this training cycle has gone spectacularly.  I am about 70% done with training which makes my goal decision a sort of “ninth hour” announcement. (Instead of eleventh hour, see? Hilarious.) So, without further “a due” (inside joke), after careful analysis of the data from my runs and workouts, supportive friend/coach Wendy and I both agree on my 2015 IMM Goal…


I actually have three goals, all in place to accommodate unpredictable possibilities.

“A” Goal
My A Goal is to break 4:00.  The A Goal is place for perfect circumstances: great health, great weather, lots of time to rest the week of the marathon, nothing hurting, etc.  Truly, I feel this goal is achievable even if everything isn’t exactly perfect.  Marathon pace for sub-4:00 (9:09min/mi) is very comfortable for me right now.  I’ve done an 18-miler in training that averaged to marathon pace, and I felt like I could’ve done more afterward.  That run and a few others I’ll mention below give me confidence that I can break 4:00.

It’s hard for me to imagine that it used to be my deepest yearning to break 2:00 in a half.  I never would’ve imagined, even a few years ago, that breaking 4:00 in a full was a realistic goal for me.

“B” Goal
My B Goal is to PR—to break 4:12:53.  My training went very well last year, but mainly consisted of lots of long slow(ish) miles due to my injury propensity.  I had one “workout” in the 2014 training cycle: a 20-mile progression run.  This training cycle, I’ve done progression runs, a chunk run, and have more progression run/marathon pace runs planned.  All data is indicating that I will be even better prepared for IMM 2015 than I was for IMM 2014.

“C” Goal
My C Goal is to finish with a smile no matter my time.  In case everything goes south, I want the permission to slow down, enjoy myself, and live to chase time goals another day.

Really? That’s Cheesy.
Before a training run on 8/17
I know it.  But it’s true.  Because here’s the deal: those first two goals are exciting and real and scary and challenging and motivating, but the real truth is that I could finish that race in 8 hours (the cutoff, I think), and be happy because I’ve had SUCH FUN training.  The marathon itself is going to represent less than 5% of the training mileage. If it doesn’t go well, I can say I had fun trying, and I’ll try again next year.

I’ve already met THE goal.  I’ve had fun.

I know those of you who know me don’t believe a word of that paragraph up there, but I think I’ve undergone a bit of a metamorphosis with regards to time goals.  After dealing with challenges last winter/spring and also watching Wendy go through challenges this summer/fall, I truly am just glad to be a part of running, fast or slow, long or short.  I really think I could cross the line, neither meeting my A nor B goals, and say, “I’ll get ‘em next time.”

I guess that’s one of the cool things about running.  It changes you for the better.

In the meantime, I’ll catch you all at the Bedford Half Marathon on 10/10.  I’m running it as a training run: marathon-ish pace (9:00s) for the first half, and progression in the second half.  Join me if that sounds fun!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Do I Love Marathon Training… or Wendy?

In June, Wendy, in her position as my running coach through Limestone Distance Running, told me I could no longer delay the inevitable.  I couldn’t endlessly list pros and cons.  I had to make a decision.

I had to decide to pursue the marathon or the half marathon as my fall goal.

On the surface, it seems pretty cut and dried: 13.1 or 26.2?  However, it isn’t that simple.  The training, planning, and pacing for the two distances are all very different, and different runners have different preferences.

Ultimately, after consulting with friends and family, I decided to run the marathon in spite of the fact that half marathon is my favorite distance to race; because even though I love to race a half, I love to train for a full, especially in the fall.

To me, training is full of equal parts anticipation and execution.  I love making the pull-tab chart of the training schedule, then watching as the tabs disappear.  I love planning routes, fueling, hydration, pacing, and even attire for a long run, then accomplishing the run according to plan.  I love seeing the little parts come together into a bigger picture as I feel my body getting stronger for the task ahead.  I even love the big weather swing fall marathoners experience as we go from hot, sticky slogs to crisp, cool, breezy runs.

That said, everything came to a screeching halt for me on Aug. 24.  That afternoon, Wendy was diagnosed with a torn tendon (not a stress fracture, thankyouverymuch), and had emergency-ish surgery a few days later.  Obviously, I did everything I could to support her (minus cooking , I'd never do that to her), because I know horribly well the rock bottom feelings that accompany an injury and how one experiences it in the very center of her being.

Even though I knew I had lost her as my training partner for this training cycle, I didn't fully realize what that meant until I ran my first long run alone.  Fourteen miles, not a terribly long long run, had never felt... long-er.  No talking partner.  No laughing partner.  No "oh man, it's so humid" partner. No matching partner.

It was just sad.

And that was when it occurred to me.  It's not just the marathon training I love.

I love Wendy.

All the planning? All the executing? All the rehashing run details? All the memory making?  We do it all together.

Milwaukee Trail - 9/12/15
I mean, I love to run.  Don't get me wrong.  This training cycle is going very well, and I'm extremely encouraged. (More on that another time.)  However, the real thrill—the thing that makes me fly out of bed at 4:30 A.M. instead of simply rising—is that I'm experiencing it with a friend.

I miss that.

We still talk about my training.  We still text all. the. time.  I meet her at the five mile mark of my maintenance runs so I can run beside her while she scoots on what is now our injury scooter.  But there is a lot of lonely in my training now.  That pretty pic I took on last week's long run?  I took it because I was near tears that Wendy wasn't there with me to see it.  Stuff like that happens all time. I wonder what Wendy would say or how she would react to things I experience on runs.

So... I'm pressing forward.  And I'm loving it.  But I sure am missing my best friend.