Wow! Last long run was Sunday! 6 miles Saturday and 20 on Sunday. We are soooo close to the big day… less than two weeks! The closer I get to be able to run in the Boston Marathon, the more I’ve thought about the journey. It’s been a long one. An amazing one. How it started, all the trials and tribulations since I decided I wanted to try this thing. The sweat. The tears. The injuries. Everything. It’s been a long process that didn’t just start 18 weeks ago with this training cycle. The journey to Boston started on October 17, 2009, the day I ran the Lewis & Clark Marathon (my 3rd full and first after having two kids) in Sioux City, Iowa.
I didn’t qualify for Boston on a lark. I have failed more than once. It’s been a deliberate thing. I’ve made two 1,000 mile moves with my family since then. I’ve learned more than I could have ever hoped. So this marathon has been a long journey for me that culminates in less than two weeks. Here’s how it started.
To train for the Sioux City Marathon, I ran here and there, and honestly, I don’t remember ever really following a plan. I knew I needed long runs and I didn’t know anything about speed work or tempo running at the time. Cross training? Meh. My goal was to finish. I was thrilled when I crossed the finish line in 4:12. After I celebrated and got cleaned up, I headed to my mom and dad’s house. As I sat in their back yard drinking a celebratory Miller Lite, I remember wondering what it would take to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I didn’t really know much about that race and what it takes to get in. I found that it would take me running a 3:45 to qualify (the times have since been reduced by five minutes for that age group). Hmmmm….I was still in post-race euphoria, so I figured I could do about anything. Within a few hours, I set my sights on The Lincoln Marathon. May 2010. I was convinced I would qualify for the Boston Marathon.
That December, I started my 18 week Advanced plan from Hal Higdon. I read his books and I was hooked. I joined the gym that had a 1/10th of a mile indoor track so I could safely train indoors in that cold Iowa winter. I trained five days a week. I ran at the track at 5:00 am. I ran 200 laps at the gym. I ran in the ice, snow, rain, sleet, in 12 degrees, and the 70 degree “heat”. I did what I needed to do to get ready for my race. I got nasty shin splints a month before the race. I looked up what to do, I took time off, I iced, and I wore my compression sleeve. I was ready.
On that clear marathon day in May, I bonked at mile 6. What went wrong? Well, nothing except nutrition. I ate carbs and carbs. I was hungry the night before and I just wanted a burger. No, that’s not what the books tell you to eat. So I ate my simple carbs. I ate my complex carbs. I ran my hardest… until mile 6 when I got “the feeling”. You know, the one where you just don’t have the energy to continue at the pace you’re going. I was devastated. It was a torturous decision to end at 13.1 when I was planning all along to come home celebrating my BQ, but I knew to continue would just add more punishment I didn’t need. I already had in my mind that I would try again as soon as possible, and I didn’t want to tire my body out more than it already was. When I finished the 1/2 in the Cornhusker stadium, I cried. I thought about all that time spent training, the trip to Lincoln, the money, and then to have it end with a huge fail. I threw my medal down and left it. (Husband picked it up and it is now on my medal hanger, a constant reminder that you just have to learn from your mistakes.)
BQ Attempt 1: FAIL/EPIC FAIL
I learned a lot from that fail though. Listen to your body. If you are hungry, you’re hungry. What works for one person may not work for the next. I learned that I need a lot more protein than other runners do. I need a lot more food that I thought I would, in general when fueling for a race. I was determined to learn and try again.
That afternoon, with my tail tucked between my legs, I went home and told everyone what happened. I failed. I fu*&ed up. But I learned from it and moved on. My next quest would be four short weeks later at the Stillwater Marathon (Minnesota) at the very end of May.
I continued my long runs, we made plans to go north to Stillwater, and there I was at my 2nd attempt at a BQ.
The Stillwater Marathon touted itself to be scenic. Well, there’s ONE scenic spot at the end, so I was disappointed in the course. The race itself, well, I started out great and got to the ten mile mark when I knew it was going to be another fail. This time, however, it was one of those things that was out of my control: The Weather. Yes, it was a beautiful day…. for boating. Or swimming. It. Was. Hot. I believe the temp got up to the 80’s so I have to say that this was one of the toughest marathons I’ve ever done. I hadn’t trained in heat, I do not like to run in heat, and it got me. Even the pacers were slowing down and the race crew was handing out bags of ice (they feel really good tucked in your bra). I finished in what is still my slowest time ever and over an hour past the time I would need for a Boston Qualification. 4:47:57. Whew.
BQ Attempt 2: FAIL
I’m not sure if I really learned anything from that besides knowing I can push through some really difficult miles on black pavement in the middle of the Minnesota countryside.
I had to stop a take stock at that point. Was I being stupid? Was I living a pipe dream? What this realistic for me? Was I wasting my time and the time I could be spending with my kids? I didn’t want to give up, so I set my sights on a “time trial” per se, the Des Moines 1/2 Marathon in October. If I could run that race at an 8 minute mile, I was going to keep trying to achieve that elusive Boston Marathon Qualification.
NEXT POST: Des Moines, Lincoln, and a move to Texas