At exactly this time, this moment, a week ago I was crossing the finish line of the Colorado Marathon and celebrating a PR and a BQ. Having had 7 days of rest (only one yoga session and one 5 mile run), lots of wine, many calorie laden meals, one massage, and exactly four large dumps (I never said I was regular), I’ve had lots of time to think about how it all played out, what I learned and what I might do differently next time. Here’s me thinking while I swing like a carefree child:
Let me start by saying – I know that just because I BQ’d, I am not some running guru or speedster. There are hundreds of thousands of 43 year old women faster than me. I just know what worked for me and helped me to cut 21 minutes off of my previous marathon time of only 17 months ago. This is just my personal success story.
There has been a lot of talk lately about how BQ’ing is “too easy,” especially for women. I guess those real fasties don’t like Boston to get watered down with those of us who are less speedy. However, there may be some truth to these claims, especially because men’s qualifying times are SO much more difficult than women’s. It seems either the men’s times need to get easier or the women’s harder to make it more balanced. In addition, the Boston Marathon is overflowing with people who have qualified and are trying to get in. This could be because there are so many more people running marathons these days, or it could be that it’s “too easy” to get there. I don’t pretend to know. I’m just a girl trying to get to Bean-town.
I will say that it is an honor and privilege to be a 40-something woman who only started running in 2008 who is on her way to Boston. Maybe someone as inexperienced as I shouldn’t be able to BQ because that shows it’s not hard enough. But, I trained my ass off for this accomplishment, so I’ll take it with pride. I don’t know if I am too slow to run Boston, but I do know that the current standards have allowed me this opportunity. So, thanks B.A.A. for not changing anything…yet.
Things that worked for me this time around:
After running myself into the ground, getting a stress fracture and ending up like this:
(God, I look like a dork). I decided that for me, less really is more.
- I trained using a mix of the “Run Less, Run Faster” plan plus some of the Runner’s World Smart Coach. I rarely ran more than 3-4 times a week, but each of those runs (speed, tempo and long) were purposeful and difficult. I did my Yassos to correlate with my hopeful marathon time.
- I started Bikram (hot) yoga and did this twice weekly during my training
- I took 1,200 mgs of calcium per day, a multi vitamin and acidophilus. I ate healthily and drank wine very regularly. I didn’t do meth or crack.
- During the 16 weeks of training I only ran 492 miles. That is a lot less than most of you but it’s still friggin’ 492 miles. I also incorporated lots of cross training, mostly swimming
- I never ran more than 20 miles in a training run, and only did that once (because I had the shits on this run and got scared). My other longer runs were 18.5 miles (x2) and 18 miles (I still had the shits and left a present in a tree)
- With the exception of Ken running with me for parts of my long runs, I did all of them solo. I learned to enjoy my own company and to love the meditative quality of these runs. I was hell bent on keeping a certain pace and knew I would do that best if I ran alone.
- I got monthly massages. No honeysuckle touching allowed.
I won’t lie. The week before the marathon I added up my miles and psyched myself out with those age old pre-marathon messages – I haven't done enough. I can't keep my marathon pace over 26.2 miles. Will the Depend show through my cheetah running skirt?
What I now know is that my training plan worked like a charm. I was well prepared, mentally and physically. And I wanted it bad. REALLY bad.
Other things that worked:
- Wearing a pace band during the race. Used THIS ONE. I wasn’t sure if I’d love or hate having this on my wrist, but it saved me and kept me on track
- Not eating dairy or fiber three days before the race. No GI trouble, no porta potty stops, not even to pee
- I hydrated very well in the days leading up to the race
- I learned everything I could about the course and drove most of it. I visualized myself running the race strong, smiling and at marathon pace. I had all of my mental tools ready for when the going got tough.
- I made my goals public. There were times when I really wished I hadn’t done this because I felt like if I didn’t get there, I’d be a failure. But in the end, I think it made me work harder
- The week before the race I watched inspirational movies like “The Spirit of the Marathon” and “Race for the Soul.”
- Turn off the auto pause on my Garmin
- Cut the toenail on my god awful Morton’s toe
- The things you worry about almost never happen (but, the really freaky things you don’t worry about, like your dog losing an eye, might)
- Even when things fall apart, it doesn't mean everything's going to hell. Always have hope
- NEVER lose sight of your goals. Keep the faith. If you don’t get them this time, try again. They’re yours for the taking.
- Don’t ingest pizza, chicken wings and beer the night before a long run. Ever.
- Stop worrying about what other people think. Do what’s right for you. Have confidence.
- Be kind to yourself. A time at the finish line is only hours and minutes. It doesn’t define you. You are not “good” because your time is “fast,” and you are not “bad” if you run at the back of the pack.
Thanks for reading and sharing this journey. Now a little anecdote from today:
Picking up my son (12) from school this afternoon, I noticed a girl who he’s known since kindergarten. I said (impulsively), “Wow, she’s really blossomed. In the chest area.” Sam said, “Hah! You jealous??”
Yes, my son, I am.