Sunday, April 19, 2015

Boston Marathon Training: A Season in Review

Well, we're down to the wire, but at the 11th hour, before foot meets pavement, here are some quick recaps of my Boston Marathon training season. It's the journey that matters, right?

Biggest triumph: Philadelphia Love Run. Went into the race without any real expectations, and wound up smashing my last half marathon PR. I haven’t felt so elated about a run in a long time. Well, probably since Chicago, so I guess it hasn’t been that long....

Biggest obstacle: Getting sick not one, not two, but three times during training. With a close second being all the ice we had this winter. (I really hate treadmills.) And a closer third being the fact that I started a brand new job, with a longer commute and longer hours, right at the beginning of the season.

Best workout: I’m not sure that I had a “best workout” this time around. Instead, I had an awful lot of runs where I felt terrible or underperformed, but a number of good races. There honestly weren’t many workouts that felt effortless, never mind fun. I suppose if I can treat the Night at the Races as a workout, then those 800 and 5k runs at the indoor Armory comprised my best workout. In spite of nerves, I had a lot of fun that night, in no small part due to my awesome teammates and also the fact that I’d never run on an indoor track before. The experience was only sullied by the disastrous timing snafu whereby they forced me to run an extra 200m lap at the end of the 5k and totally misrecorded my time. But hey, I still had fun running it.

Worst workout: The long run at the end of my vacation snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park. We came back to Salt Lake City, and instead of sightseeing, I went for my long run. It was 7 miles out and 7 miles back, with paces on the way back, and I don’t know if it was the altitude change or dehydration or what, but two miles into the run back my stomach was churning so badly that I threw up and jog/walked the rest of the way back to the hotel. It’s the first long run I actually did not finish.

Biggest Inspiration: I have this teammate who has such incredible drive. She wants to get faster so terribly badly, and I know—in spite of how down she gets on herself sometimes—that she really believes she can get faster. Heck, she is getting faster, and she knows it. It’s just never enough. “What else can I do?” she constantly asks our coach. “Why am I not getting better? Fix me!” And while it isn’t on the official record yet, how much faster and stronger she’s gotten, I know it’s only a matter of time. At which point, that won’t be enough, either. And then she’ll be on to the next one.

Favorite moments: This superlative has to be plural, because it’s impossible to choose just one.

1. In Marython's car, driving from the finish of one of the Boston Buildup races to the train station with three of my teammates. I’m always a little out of touch with pop culture, but in this case I was really late to the party: T-Pain was DJ’ing from the passenger seat, and she turned on “Bad Girlz” by MIA. Now, is that a great song? Depends who you ask. But sitting in that car with three other sweaty, energetic girls, with the music up, bopping along . . . it was just a great feeling. (And of course now I love the song.) So that definitely qualifies as a favorite moment.
2. Walking through the finishing corral at the end of the Philadelphia Love Run. All of a sudden, my boyfriend’s mother and sister ran up to me with these enormous grins on their faces. His whole family was in Philadelphia for the weekend, and they had asked the night before what my goal time for the race was. I had just beaten it by a considerable margin, and they clearly knew. “You’re so awesome!” they gushed. “You beat your time! We saw!” In that moment I felt so much love, the kind you can only feel from family. The kind where other people’s happiness for you is just overwhelming. I am still overwhelmed thinking about it. Definitely a favorite moment.
3. Last but not least, at the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler last weekend: I had started out the race with my teammates and then kind of run off alone because I felt pretty good and it was a nice day and it seemed like the right thing to do. Around mile 7 I heard a familiar voice and suddenly my coach Sasquatch and his wife ran up next to me. We carried along at a clip that was ever-increasing, until I was quite literally panting and straining to keep up underneath a canopy of pink and white blossoms. Sasquatch’s wife wasn’t actually registered to run the race, so she dropped out about a mile before the finish, and he and I finished essentially side by side. Spontaneously—and to my utter surprise—he reached over and gave me a hug. It felt like the kind of hug that said, “I’m proud of you.” And that’s all I really want, I guess: for people I love and respect to be proud of me. So of course it felt awesome. A great way to end my last race before Boston. And thus my third favorite moment.

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