I had hoped to be writing this month's post having run and lived to tell about my 20-miler, but due to Mother Nature completely losing her shit last week, that run was postponed to this upcoming weekend. I know I won't be able to rest easy until I cross that run off my training plan, but I'm confident in the work I've put in so far. Speaking of training, this is the spreadsheet I've been rocking for the last 3 months:
This has been the most piecemealed training plan I've ever put together. I've had to rearrange my run days way more often that I've ever had to before. I mean, I had to do one of my long runs on a Thursday afternoon - who does that? In fact, a lot of my long runs have been on odd days at odd times. I'm not sure I've done any of them at the same time and day two weeks in a row, which is very out of character for me. No early Friday bedtimes; no pre-dawn Saturday morning alarms. I haven't gotten in nearly as much strength training or yoga as I have in the past. I knew up front that there was a good chance I was going to be making a lot of this up as I went, which is what I wanted at the time since the last time I planned to be super disciplined, it blew up in my face.
My body is more or less ready for the physical challenge; it's my mind I'm more worried about. But as much as I feel like I haven't done the right things physically, I've put in more than my fair share of mental training this time around. Training through this winter has been extremely tough. The temperatures have been freezing cold, there's been snow on the ground, there have been more occasions with 20-30mph winds than I'd like to remember. I don't even think I'd need both hands to count the number of nice running days I've had this training cycle, at least as far as weather is concerned. But despite less-than-ideal conditions, I've managed to power through every single run. Maybe not with as much speed or grace or mental fortitude as I'd like, but rain or shine, bad mood or good, tired or alert, distracted or engaged, I earned every one of those miles up there.
Despite the fact that training hasn't been rainbows and sunshine, truth be told: I'm pretty pumped. There is just no other race weekend like Shamrock weekend and I can't wait to line up at that starting line for the 4th year in a row. It's hard to believe I'll be celebrating the 3rd anniversary of my first half marathon by running my 3rd full marathon. Shamrock is a tradition for me, and even though I never planned to run the full course once, let alone to come back for a second try, I'm grateful to be healthy enough to be able to participate in any of the races this year. When it comes to Shamrock, for me, the second time's the charm: my first half was disastrous but the following year I came back for a 30-minute PR. Last year, my first time running the full, wasn't the performance I wanted, and I'm hoping I have a lot more to give this year.
The one moment that pushed me over the edge from running the Shamrock Marathon being a tiny thought in the back of my head, to it being something I actually wanted to do: Christmas morning, filling out my new medal and bib holder.
Translated in terms of average pace for each distance:
Half Marathon: 8:21
One of these things is not like the others.
I had originally planned to run the Shamrock Half and shave 4 or 5 minutes off my PR. Even though doing so would have been a huge accomplishment, it would only have widened the gap between my half and full marathon times. It might sound silly that something that trivial made me want to run a marathon, but writing those PRs out made me realize which distance I wanted to work on. My marathon pace is not going to start with a 7 or an 8, that I know for sure, but I feel confident that I can get it closer than it is now and close the gap at least a little bit.
Shamrock Marathon Goals
Realistic Goal: PR
I don't want to write this off as a guarantee, but if I have confidence in any of my goals, it's this one. I'm a much stronger runner than I was a year ago (thanks, hills!) and my comfortable pace, like the one I ran my PR marathon at, is over a minute faster than it was this time last year. Simple math would indicate that my chances of reaching this goal are very good. On the other hand, it's totally possible I could have the worst race day of my life. Not counting that out yet.
Reach goal: 4:21:XX (9:59 pace)
I really want to knock at least a minute off my average pace. All my training runs last year were in the 10:00's and I was really disappointed that I let my race pace slip to just over 11:00 when it was all said and done. Since all of my runs are in the 8's and 9's now, I really don't want to let my race pace start with a 10. This is another one I'm reasonably sure I can accomplish, but I can't be too sure.
Crazy reach goal: 4:10 (9:32 pace)
I'll be honest, this one is pretty arbitrary. It's the best milestone I can come up with between my reach goal and my super crazy, I done lost my mind goal. I would be insanely happy to hit any time in the low 4's, and anything under 4:10 is far better than I've ever dreamed of doing.
Super crazy reach goal: 4 hours (9:10 pace)
Go big or go home, right? I'm more than confident about my ability to get through the first half at least a few minutes under 2 hours, but not at all confident about the second half. Those miles, especially the last 6 or so, can be brutal and I have no idea what to expect from them. I've trained to run 16 at a pace that would leave me time for my pace to slow down by 30 seconds/mile for those last 10 miles, but I'm just not sure I can replicate that on race day. Some days I feel like this is totally within the realm of possibility, and other days I feel like I should just put my pajamas on because I'm dreaming.
All of these seem pretty optimistic, some extremely so, but the last time I set time goals for myself (in the fall), I ended up really surprising myself and far exceeding them. Not that I'm banking on that happening again, but you just never know what race day is going to bring.
Until next time!