Yeah haw! Just in case you hadn't heard ... I was about to die by the time I reached the finish line yesterday ... I qualified to run the (THE) Boston Marathon next April. Actually, I qualified to run it this April, but registration is closed and the field of 25,000 runners is full. So, next year it is. And, that is OKAY by me because I am not sure I could run it this coming April even if I wanted to.
The race/marathon event that I chose to use as my qualifying race was here in Tallahassee. It was chosen by Runner's World magazine as one of the top 10 marathons to run for those looking to qualify. By all noticeable accounts, it is "flat," straight, and "fast." I have run the half marathon distance of this event several times, but this is the first time I picked it for the full 26.22 miles.
It was a challenge and difficult run in that I knew I had to run "hard" early on in order to build a cushion so I would have time to back off and slow down if I needed it towards the end. In hindsight, it being 20/20 and all, I probably could have laid back just a bit in the earlier miles and had something left to give at the end, but who knows. And, to be honest, it doesn't really matter now. It is done; I have my time to run the Boston Marathon; and it really was a good run overall.
This first picture (shirt tied around my waist) is some where between miles 6 and 7. The next picture (no shirt around my waist) is just about the 30K (18.6 miles) mark.
Training for this has been an exceptionally lengthy process. And my family and friends have been more than supportive, accommodating, and understanding. My "plan" started 16 weeks ago in October, but I really started in August with my friend Cathy who was training for a November marathon. I am not sure that I would go through that many weeks/months of training for the next marathon, but I can tell you that I was completely prepared for race day. We had put in plenty of hill training; an abundance of tempo and pace runs; and goo-gobs of long runs not-to-mention the all dreaded speed work. As much as I hate to admit it, because I despise it, speed work helps. Not every week, and not all year long. I truly believe you only run WHAT THE PLAN SAYS TO RUN AND WHEN IT SAYS TO RUN IT. No deviations - and that includes the cross training. I am confident when I say that cross training is an all important factor of "fast" marathon running. Road cycling and high intensity spin classes teach/train the fast twitch muscles to move even when they don't want to , particularly going up hill. Now, I would mix up the days that things occurred, but I did not change the workouts themselves. I am glad for that now as I have a wicked great time (at least for me) to show for it.
I did learn along the way to make sure the YOU are ready for the race and to not rely too heavily on anyone person being a part of your training or race day plans. Colin begrudgingly agreed to meet me at Mile 20 and "run me in" for the last 10K. By that time I was nearly run out and moving almost entirely on steam and determination. He did a great job of keeping my feet going one foot in front of the other and by setting little bitty goals for me: "Mom, you are going to catch that guy in the blue shirt." "Mom, we are going to pass that guy in the blue shirt." "Mom, you can't walk the finish line is right over there....." "Go! Go! Go. Go. Go. I am not going to be quiet until you pick it up a little." He really was a good kid to have for the last 6+ miles. It would have been even harder than it was with out him.
My most wonderful, very supportive, encouraging, loving,
understanding husband met me at the finish (after completing his first Half Marathon) I could hear him as I made the last tenth of a mile or so, "Hello, Boston!" he was shouting. I could see the clock was well below my goal time of 3:50:59 and I was so happy. It won't show it in the pictures, but I was ecstatic that I had not only made the time, but torn it up just a little bit. My fantastic running partner Cathy was there waiting for me, and Michelle, my newest "Life" friend, was there. The three of them had all the right things to say and do for me. It was truly a blessing to have them at the finish and to then hear my 15 year-old say out loud in front of complete strangers, "I love you, Mom. I'm going to get Maggie." And off he ran, back out onto the course to find and pick up Maggie who was on her way in to finish as well. Not too long after that Maggie and Sherrie, with an entire entourage of escorts, arrived at the track. Church bells began ringing the hour just as they crossed under the finish arch.