It is 2017 and I have BIG running goals, well one big running goal, QUALIFY FOR THE BOSTON MARATHON. Training for something like this entails more than just constant running. In addition to my body, my mind needs to be equally, if not more, trained for the months of work and the race itself.
My official go at my BQ will be at the Via Marathon in September. I know that sounds like a lifetime away, it is for typical 8-12 week marathon training plan, but in order to meet my 3:30 goal, training starts now.
Let’s take it back to the Philadelphia Marathon in November 2016. This was my unofficial first attempt at a Boston qualifying time. If anyone was in Philadelphia this day, the weather was not ideal (40 mph wind gusts, 30 degree temps, yada yada yada) and long story short, I clocked in at 3:36:50, 1 minute 50 seconds over “BQ time”. I say “BQ time” because even if I did clock in at 3:35, I would not be guaranteed a spot due to time cuts made after submissions are final. The end of the race was bittersweet, my friend Lia’s mom gave me my metal. I was greeted by my boyfriend who followed me on a bike the majority of the race. I had PRed my marathon time by almost 20 minutes but I was still not qualified for Boston. This 1 minute 50 seconds only fueled the fire to make me more focused and determined to still qualify for 2018.
Back to current time… I chose the Via Marathon due to its location, course and time of year. The Via Marathon is only a short turnpike trip away in Allentown (plus it is in close proximity to Bethlehem, aka dreams of post marathon ice cream at Vegan Treats). A close marathon means not too much adjustment from traveling. The course is flat and previously 27.50% of participants received a Boston qualifying time. The marathon is on September 10th, 2017 which is the last possible weekend for Boston qualifying as the cut off should be one week later on the 17th. Some might see this as a risky move or wonder why I did not pick a marathon earlier in the year, here is why. I toyed with the idea of a spring marathon, the New Jersey Marathon on April 30th to be exact, but the back to back training I recently did between the Philadelphia Marathon 11/20/2016 and the Dopey Challenge 1/5/2017, left me feeling exhausted. I was not mentally prepared for another 12 weeks of marathon training so soon. A summer marathon was an immediate NO. I do not fare well running in summer temps and I did not want to travel far to avoid them. So here I am running the Via Marathon in late summer and, I think, if train problems do not repeat themselves, this is my BQ marathon. PLUS, my friend Aaron from my Strong Hearts Vegan Power team will be by my side a pacer!
Since officially signing up for my second attempt at a offical Dopey Challenge, my coach Rita, has put me in full training mode. My typical week consists of 2 easy runs, 1 day of coached track speedwork, 1 day of on-my-own speedwork, 1 long run, 1 optional cross training day and 1 rest day. One rest day and all those work outs might sound vigorous for the “off-season”, and at times it feels that way, but Rita knows what she is doing and I can feel myself improving as the weeks go by. I have now come to terms with the fact that I have no off-season, as it does not really fit with my current goals, and I am happy about that. When I am running, I am happy. It is the part of day set aside just for me, no distractions from my phone or TV or anything really.
All that being said, it is March and it was February. Both of those months, are part of a thing people like to call winter. Winter running is not pretty. Red cheeks, running noses, teary eyes, numb limbs, ice avoidance — all happen and make it hard for any winter runner to be as gazel-like as they believe themselves to be. Most of my running has been completed on my “home course” of Delaware Ave, the Temple University Track and, sadly, the treadmill at my local Planet Fitness, which I only resort to under unpleasant weather (i.e. freezing rain, snow, temperatures below freezing). In addition to the cold, I have been haunted by wind since the Philadelphia Marathon.
My most notable and fun run happened during a trip to the PA mountains. Coincidentally, Lake Harmony, where I was staying for the weekend, was set right on the course of my future race with my team Strong Hearts Vegan Power, the Ragnar Pennsylvania, benefiting Tamerlaine Farms. I had this idea to complete the final miles, of the last leg, of the race. To my disappointment, the course proceeded down private property and I could not complete my planned course which was for the better. I ended up running the majority of my first 4 miles downhill then had to turn around and proceed up hill all the way back home. It was as challenging as it was fun but my brother, who volunteered to run with me, probably wanted to kill me.
I am a creature of habit… 2 hours prior to any run over 5 miles – caffeinated CLIF Bar; Night before a long run, some combination of red sauce with pasta, on pizza, with a baguette, any combo works; 1 GU energy gel every 4 miles; Recovery smoothie after. They are the basic and things I keep consistent. I am not perfect, my diet through this month of training has been confusing. I’m logging 20+ miles per week, my body is in hunger mode and I am compensating, and then compensating more on top of that. Next months goal: eat more consciously. Stay tuned for my favorite recovery smoothie recipes as well as my weekly meal plans.
I am not the type of runner who relies heavily on music during my workouts. I make playlists, sure, but if music was to fail on race day or during a run, it would not ruin my performance. Music more or less became backround noise, so after the Philadelphia Marathon, I cancelled my Spotify subscription and went in a different direction with my audio of choice. I started diving into that purple icon on my iPhoen… podcasts. Some might find it odd listening to someone talk as you run but podcasts, specifically the Rich Roll podcast, has transformed my running on a mental level.
Ok “transformed my running on a mental level” sounds hippy and out there, I get it, weird, but hear me out. The Rich Roll podcast features some of the most inspirational guests of our time. The guest that drew me in and made me a regular listener of the podcast was Kerri Walsh Jennings. Her interview was so real and though I am not a professional athlete, parts of it were so relatable. I had to hear more. This led me down the rabbit hole of the Rich Roll podcast, current and previous episodes, all of them teaching me something new about others and myself. I loved all of them, except I must confess the more hippy dippy episodes cannot keep my attention, so I skip those. They probably are enjoyable to some, just not me, especially while I am running! Anyway, I continue to love the podcasts and listen weekly. There is just something about listening to a person with an inspirational story, while creating my own personal inspirational story, that settles the mind and makes me feel like I am floating through a run.
My suggestion, listen to this podcast. It does not have to be done while running. My favorite episodes so far include #273 Mark Allen, #269 Travis Barker, #268 Darin Olien (even though it made me rethink my regular ass water consumption), #266 David Goggins (HE IS BADASS). #262 Kerri Walsh Jennings, #259 Dean Karnazes (the no foam roller), #256 Chris Hauth, #277 Brogan Graham and #230 Robin Arzon. The list goes on and on and will definitely continue to grow!
Side note, Rich is vegan but not all of this guests are.
Until next month!