Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Road to Boston: It was paved with cobblestones . . .

I know I have let this blog flounder. There was a time that I couldn't contain my enthusiasm to talk about my runs, crazy workouts and the silly minutea of my day to day. But then . . . I really don't know. Things just started sucking and I felt a loss of control over my life.

In general, I don't like to talk about the suckage or a lack of control. I don't even like to pretend it exists. It is one thing for things to be crappy and out of control in reality but then to talk about them too?  I guess for me to actually have to see the suckage in writing makes it real. Unwritten it feels like there is a chance it might just be bad mythology.

I did have a blog/log over at  I've had it since May of 2008 and for awhile I loved it. Loved it until I started to fall apart and I got tired of writing about how horrible my training was going all.the.time. Certainly, I understand that there are low points in training but I was going 2 years of it and I was just tired of talking about it--never mind I how I felt training with it, living it.

So I joined Fight Club and quit logging my workouts as of February.

I know maybe it was a little superstitious but I thought maybe if I really just shutted up (that's a word, right) and just ran then maybe I would actually make it to the finish line at Boston.

Habits, as I am sure most know, are hard to break. It was hard to NOT talk about running, at all. It was hard to pretend I wasn't training when I really was. It was hard to not want to keep track of it. And I did cheat a little here and there--with a text, or an off handed comment to a friend or the occasional  facebook status update. But mostly I cheated because I was sort of keeping track of it by doing essentially the same workouts every week.

But I never wore a watch in my faux training. And I think that saved me. I took the sucking out of the equation because I didn't know if I was sucking. I know that river in Africa is long and I know that there is a whole wall of books at Barnes and Noble about overcoming denial but I was personally embracing it. And it was great. Do not underestimate what a little denial can do for your self esteem.

It was great because after December and January being total training failures I was able to hit every single "workout" I attempted after February 6th. I still struggled with whatever hip/glute/piriformous issue I have been fighting since last fall but I hit the runs each week that I needed. I didn't have to quit running for a few days and ride the trainer or spin bike or God forbid, swim,  because my hip hurt too much to run.

That was a huge turning point mentally for me. I was excited again everyday to go out and run. I am not kidding. Every run I ran with a smile and sometimes there were tears of happiness. I was definitely the only person on the treadmill at the gym with a big fat smile on my face. I LOVED running again! It was awesomeness and deliciousness. Even sang as I ran at times.

Prior to February 6th I had so much anxiety about every run because it might hurt  and I might not be able to finish the run, or worse would have to walk.  I love running and love loving running but it is difficult to love something that continues to cause you  pain. It really wears you down and it had got exceedingly difficult to be enthusiastic about doing something that I knew might really cause me some serious pain. Worse though, I was committed to 3 races. The biggest and the most awesome and longest sought after was the Boston marathon. It just loomed like an anvil over my psyche. I felt like I was letting running down. That probably makes no sense but truly,  I felt guilty and sad about it. Honestly, I don't really know how to describe it right but just know this:  it was a really negative bad all consuming feeling and I couldn't rid myself of it-- no matter how much sense it didn't make to feel like that.

Maybe that is depression. I don't know. I just know I didn't like it at all. It hurt me and it was ruining my quality of life. I am not purposely being dramatic or trying to illicit sympathy. I don't care for either. I just don't want to feel like that again. It sucked. Okay?

So February 6th marks the beginning of my training for the 2011 Boston marathon. When I signed up for Boston in October I had optimistically planned Boston to be my A race. I wanted Boston to be my long waited for PR. I wanted 3:25. But by February I was just hoping that I was going to make it the start line and somehow, the finish line. 3:25-- any time goal-- was gone.

Originally, I had planned to start Boston training in December. December and January were going to be build months. February and March I was going to drop the hammer and pick up the pace. I had planned to have all weeks from mid December on to be over 50 miles with the occasional cut back to 40 and several peaks at 65 miles. A trail race on February 6th would be an A race and the Georgia marathon on March 20th I was planning to run as a 3:45 training run.

The reality was that in December and January I couldn't get my mileage over 40 miles without aggravating my hip. It would be okay and then out of no where the pain would flare and I would be limping. It didn't hurt when biked, swam, did yoga or weights. Only when I ran. And not every run. I still don't know what the problem is but switching to from neutral shoes to motion control shoes made a huge difference. But I didn't do that until the first week in February.

In January I couldn't run more than 40 miles a week without aggravating my hip. After my 11.5 trail race on Feb 6th--that ended up  only being a  training run--I logged my first 50+ mile week since October. I was able to run 54, 57, 60 the following 3 weeks too. I managed an 18 mile run and  3 21 mile runs during that time. I did a mid length run every week too that ranged 12 to 16 miles. I did 3-4 other runs every week too--1 treadmill of 4-7 miles, 1to2 6 mile easy hill runs and a 5 mile hilly trail run. I rode the bike/trainer twice a week. Yoga and strength training once a week too.  My hip would still ache every now and again but everyday I woke up able to go out and run and completed every single workout I started. It was awesome and made me so happy.

I really don't know why I was all the sudden able to run how I had been wanting to run for the two months prior. Only things that were different were my running shoes and that I got some ear plugs and was getting better sleep. Doesn't seem like those two things could be a miracle hip/pirformous cure. So yes. I am still nervous it will come back. And this time if it does I will go to the doctor. I didn't go before because the last thing I needed to hear was an official edict of "no running."

In March it was time to cut back for the Georgia marathon. I ran 45ish with a 12 mid length and an 18 mile long run, then 40 miles the next week with two 14 mile runs and then 30 the week before the Ga marathon. At least I think it was something like that. My hip never hurt during the marathon and that was a huge confidence builder. 5 days after the marathon (where I ran 3:55 having dialed back the original goal of 3:45 to just sub 4) I ran 18.5 miles and finished the week with a peak of 65 miles. Then I began my taper for Boston and just hoped for the best.

I tried in the taper pick up the paces. But whether or not I really did, I don't know. I still wasn't wearing a watch. When I ran on the treadmill I would practice running an 8 min mile so I know for sure at least once a week I was getting in a marathon pace run.  A short one but that was the only time I knew for certain what my pace was for any given run. And yes, 8 min mile is marathon pace simply because I've been using the 8 min mile for marathon pace for the last 3 years. I like 8 min miles. Sure they've only happened 3 times but it is my go to marathon pace. But to be clear. My race day goal for Boston was not a 3:30 marathon. My goal was the finish line with a smile and if it was a good day I thought sub 3:40 was likely. If it was a really good day I thought 3:35 might happen. Beyond that I didn't entertain any more optimism. I was just amazed that I was actually going to get to toe the line.

I know this was probably a little boring and certainly self indulgent but when I write my Boston marathon recap I don't want to have to go into a lengthy explanation of my training.

Just consider this the preface to the novel.


  1. I run too so found your post, albeit a tad long, interesting. All the best! And I love William Carlos Williams!