Yesterday morning I delayed my long run by several hours. I really need to get to the grocery store. Oh and I should hide those Easter eggs for when Lilly comes home tomorrow. Oh yea, and I should wash the sheets… and vacuum…and clean the bathrooms. Honestly, I was insanely nervous for this final long run. On Saturday’s 10 miler my right leg (hamstring) felt insanely tight and I just didn’t know if I had double the distance in me.
Twenty more miles stood between myself and taper. Just twenty measly miles, right?. Two hours and forty minutes. That’s less than a Star Wars movie or the Ten Commandments- actually WAY less than The Ten Commandments- ESPECIALLY a televised version. Yea, this is cake. Gulp.
I set out on the run and knew that I had to let the body warm up for the first five miles without any expectations on pace (8:25, 8:16, 8:17, 8:14, 7:56). I took the hilliest route around Braintree/Weymouth/Holbrook that I knew. Boston wasn’t going to go easy on me on race day, so why should I go easy during training? Even though I was running comfortably I was insanely anxious on the run, getting in my head, staring at my watch and nervous that I wouldn’t be able to cover the distance. Funny thing is just a week earlier I ran a 24 mile split run (12 miles in the AM, 12 miles in the PM) and a week before that I ran 19 miles with Molly. Could I do 20? Of course I could do 20. But it’s still two hours and forty minutes on my feet- any runner in their right mind respects the distance and sets out on the road knowing that anything can happen if they’re not smart. I had my shot blocks in hand, water on my back and was well on my way.
In due time my stride started to open up; my arms and legs moved in a peaceful rhythmic fashion much like a metronome. Left- right-left-right-left-right-with no end in sight. Go figure that it took me forty minutes to sink into the run and hush my worries away. Typical me, so tightly wound these days that I need to run for nearly three hours to find peace of mind. The pitter patter of my feet hitting the pavement, a smooth breath between my lips and alternating lifting my left arm with my right leg (and vice versa); taken together these sounds created a nearly meditative form of music to my ears and peace in my soul so much so that my splits were very evenly paced for these five miles (7:56, 7:53, 7:43, 7:53, 7:46).
Around mile 9 the sun started to break through the thick cloud cover to warm my face. For the first time in a long time I erupted with a loud “wahooo!!” while running. I let go of my splits, HR and Boston all at once and started to run by feel; for the fist time in a lot time I ran to just run and smile under the sun. It was beautiful. In that moment I didn’t care that I wasn’t following my training plan or who I was letting down – I NEEDED THIS. I needed to be in control of something in my life. I needed the freedom to fly. I added a little pressure as I approached the upcoming hills but it felt good, really good actually (8:02, 7:45, 8:05, 7:51, 7:57).
I approached the final quarter of the run and subtly began to lean in to the pace. For the first time in a long time I felt like my old self on the road: relaxed, happy and in control. The final 4 miles were mostly flat with some gradual downhill, but the final mile was the local version of Heartbreak hill. There is a large hill on Quincy Ave that takes you from Weymouth Landing into Quincy- I knew it was waiting for me at the finish just as Heartbreak will be looming. With my mind at peace and my stride in sync I attacked the beast and miraculously felt like I was flying up and over. My final splits were 7:42, 7:40, 7:46, 7:39 and mile 20/the hill was a 7:34.
As I crested the beastly hill and rounded out 72 miles of training for the week a smile overtook my face. As I near the end of a training cycle my mind is typically abuzz with what I will do differently next cycle to better prepare for the next race: I’ll do more strength training, run more hills, I’ll try harder with my nutrition, I’ll eat less trail mix- wait- nope, scratch that last one. Mental health professionals call it bargaining. These thoughts invaded my mind all last week, but as I crested the hill I was overcome with the most bittersweet sensation. Peace. I was finally at peace. The girl in the red dress, this woman, this lone runner is nearing peace with this new life I’ve embarked upon. I smirked to myself, “That’ll do donkey. That’ll do.” And right then and there in the final mile of my twenty mile long run tears slowly streamed down my cheeks. The training season, the long runs and the rigorous speedwork are all complete. All the hard work is done. All that’s left to do is recover- physically, mentally and emotionally.
That’ll do donkey, that’ll do.
It’s time to rest and recover. Yes marathoners, it’s official time to taper. Bittersweet.
Training vs. Racing and my goals at Boston
Somewhere in the middle of this training cycle my goals have changed. Well actually, I’ve changed. Of course it is a product of my current life chaos. I have tried to resist admitting it, tried to stand strong in the midst of the crashing wave, but it’s time to learn to move with the motion of the ocean. Since I have started running my main focus has been to PR at each successive race. Don’t get me wrong- I want to break 3:15 at Boston and I WILL break 3:10 one day and possibly 3 hrs flat. But will it happen at this Boston- I don’t think so.
Training and PR’ing required focus and dedication: two things that I have struggled with this training cycle. I have spent the past six months being pulled in so many directions that a huge part of me just wants to run and be free of a training plan. I just want to dance!!!! Sorry- diva moment. I’m back. But honestly, I respect coaching and dedicated marathon training enough to admit that I have been off and somewhat unfocused this training cycle.
So what’s my goal for Boston? To finish with a smile on my face. That’s my primary goal. I want to run strong and happy! But will I burn the boats and empty the tank? Will I risk it all? Answering that question on day one of taper will only get an emotional response. Now I shall taper and I’ll let you know.
Never Stop Running,
Kass (and if you didn’t get the Shrek reference then you realllllly need to watch Shrek)