As I’ve mentioned a time or 1,000 I am going to be running the 27th annual California International Marathon on December 6th. CIM is important to me for a number of reasons: it’s basically in my backyard (actually last time I ran it, the finish was literally blocks from my apartment!), it’s the race that inspired me to really start running and it’s a course known for helping runners reach the ever-ellusive BQ. I ran this race in 2007 and I loved it. I was a completely different runner then (40 pounds heavier and infinitely slower) but finishing my first marathon changed me. It wasn’t immediate or even apparent until months later but the changes were real. As I started running in 08 and my times started to descend I made a long-term goal of qualifying for Boston at the 09 race. When I made this decision it seemed like I had all the time in the world to train and get faster and now that it’s here I kind of can’t believe it.
But, let me back up a little bit. In 2006 I had been running on and off for about 2 years but usually in the 3-4 miles range and just because, to be honest, I’m kind of cheap and running was basically free. One Sunday morning I turned on my TV and our local station was covering CIM. I very clearly remember the anchor saying, “for most of these runners, this race represents their own personal Everest” and something about that struck me– I just knew I needed to run that race the next year. Looking back I had absolutely no clue what I was doing and probably no business running a marathon, but I’d been bitten– I had the bug. It also came at a time in my life where I was coming into my own professionally, personally and physically and so CIM represents much more than just a race to me. It’s where I grew up. I know– sounds cheesy and sounds like I’m putting too much emphasis on one race, but it wasn’t the race that grew me up– it was, as John Parker put it in Once a Runner, “the Miles of Trials and the Trials of Miles.” So, I’m excited to take that on once again.
How do I feel going into this training cycle? I simultaneously feel, “I can’t believe it’s here!” and “OMG GET IT DONE ALREADY. I AM SICK OF TALKING ABOUT IT!” But, overall I am excited to see what I can do. It’s hard to believe that 2 short years ago I was running 62 minute 10ks, 2:22 1/2 marathons and considered 8 miles “really long.” Now, I can run 23 minute 5ks a 1:48 1/2 marathon and run 12-15 miles without incident. It’s a little mind-boggling to look back (and it took a village. some day I’ll talk about that) and remember the baby steps to get here. I really believe I can qualify for Boston and I really want it. I am willing to do the work to complete the task. I’m also feeling just a little bit of pressure– because I’ve told the world that I’m going to try and BQ I think I’ll be pretty upset if I don’t. In fact, someone I don’t even know, asked my mom how my “Boston training was going.” Yikes. But I respond well to pressure, so I’m just going to use it as a motivator, not a paralyzer.
The nitty gritty of training: I’m going to be using Daniels’ Running Formula Marathon Training Plan A. I did a “dry run” of the program Dec-March of last year and never felt healthier, faster or more prepared to race. I’m planning at peaking at 70 miles per week (I know. No, I know. It’s a ton. But that’s a PEAK, not something I’ll sustain). The program has a great mix of hard, easy, M pace, Threshold runs, etc and although it’s very demanding and a little tedious and requires some math skills, I know that if I stick to what Jack says I will have the peace of mind that I did absolutely everything possible to achieve my goals. I’m also going to try and mix in 2-3 days of strength training with 1-2 yoga sessions. I’ve noticed that although unpleasant and easy to skip, when I add those elements to my training I stay healthier and much leaner. I’m also going to focus on fueling well, cutting the crap and making sure I’m eating adequately to fuel 55-70 miles per week. That kind of mileage isn’t a joke and so I need to be vigilant.
While I want to qualify for Boston (badly, have I mentioned this yet?) and have basically told the entire world that’s my goal, I also want to enjoy this training cycle. While I’m going to take it seriously, I’m not going to be a psycho about it but rather, try to strike a balance. 99% of my friends are uniterested in the details of my threshold runs (I guess that’s why I have you fine people reading my self-indulgent thoughts, ha!) or if I run 4:30 or 3:00. If I don’t qualify this time there is always another race and I will still be Amy, still PR (unless some kind of horrific disaster strikes) and still finish a marathon which is an accomplishment in itself.
It’s also very different training for a marathon when you’ve already completed one. Last time each long run was a mileage PR, I wasn’t entirely convinced I could finish the distance and felt very confused about each element of my training. This time I know I can finish all my workouts, know the purpose behind of each of them, I know how to hydrate, I know what to expect (well, sort of. but I have a better idea), have run the entire course and feel infinitely more confident. I also know that there are days that I’ll be so sore and cranky that I’ll want to cry, that somewhere, probably around week 10, I will want to quit, that I might throw up on training runs and that it’s not all roses and daisies and spiritual revelations and the runner’s high. Some days you just have to get out the door and put in the work.
So I guess you could say that I’m excited. I’m excited to push myself, to do my best, to see what I can accomplish. To really get out there and make it happen. I’m grateful for a healthy body, shoe and gu money, time to train, supportive friends and family, running trails close to my house and a beautiful, fast marathon in my own back yard. So, stay tuned and we’ll see how this goes…