While I have been running on and off for 10 years, I never have considered myself speedy. I have always been one of those run-of-the-mill runners where when you get your race results back, you always are in that 50% range. So my story begins on a boat, as all good stories do, with perhaps a drink in my hand and the sun on my skin. My friend Erin asked if I would be interested in running a marathon again. Now, I had run my first marathon 2 years prior and after I finished I had zero interest in running another one even remotely soon. The training is long and it requires the dedication you need a special mindset for. But…at that point, the memories of it had dulled. The good memories have become more forefront and the ones of how hard it was were pushed down. So I said yes. But then another idea was proposed. What if we could both qualify for Boston and go and experience it together? And I laughed and laughed…Me? I would never be able to do that. My first marathon was just under a 10:00 min/mile pace, this would require…(pulls out phone, checks qualifying time pace) an 8:00 min/mile pace! For 26 miles. And it hurt after mile 18 at my last one, so now I have to run fast on painful legs. But then I let it absorb a bit. I mean, why not me? Erin had done it before. Perhaps if I dedicated myself to becoming faster, I really could become faster. Just because I have 1 pace, and have had for 10 years, why does that mean I can’t? And that was the moment I was all in.
Then I discovered podcasts (I’m so late to the game, I know) and there were ones with training advice! And so I spent every run listening to various episodes but eventually I fell in love with this one called Running Rogue. And I learned. And absorbed. And applied my learnings. I began running “easy” except for 1 speed day on Tuesday. I inserted 2 recovery runs in between hard days. I no longer was running at one pace and I definitely think that’s what helped me the most besides an increase in weekly mileage. I joined their podcast training group 4 months after I started my training. At this point I was in the 50 mile a week range, I was looking for speed workout day help (I had no idea what the heck I was doing) and figuring out a training schedule. My original plan was to get to 70 miles a week but was advised by a fellow team member that since I was adding speed days, that increasing those and mileage at the same time may not be a good idea. TRUTH. I worked my way up to 62 miles a week, occasionally more, and while I would have done more miles if the coaches had let me, I look back now and think that I’m really glad I didn’t. They were worried about me burning out or getting hurt and considering how I felt those last few months, I could have seen that happening.
And then there was winter marathon training. And winter means WINTER here in Minnesota. I have always hung up the old running shoes for the season the minute I feel a cold breeze. And if I see a snowflake? Forget it. So to run through the cold was a very new thing for me. To even be out in the cold is a new thing for me. I prefer to watch snow from the warmth of my couch and blankie. I wear long sleeves in 70 degree weather. So this was a big deal. I kept running though, and then there came the first 11 degree day. Okay, I told myself, this will be the coldest weather you have ever ran in (or walked a dog in). If you can do this, I think it’s possible to make it through the winter. I told myself I could do hard things things and away I went. Turns out, winter running isn’t so bad. Zero degrees is tough since that is about the point where I feel like my eyeballs themselves are cold, but anything above that 1. Makes you feel tough, 2. Anything in single digits or even low doubles gives you lashicles. Lashicles are pretty cool because, well, see #1. And 3. It’s not humid. It’s not hot. You don’t sweat a ton. Your heart rate isn’t abnormally approaching 190. I could skip days to wash my hair. I ran outside most the winter except for 2 weeks when we had a polar vortex. Treadmill or -20? It wasn’t a hard choice.
At the end of my training, I looked back on all the work I had done. 9 months of running. 6 days a week. 62 miles a week with every 3rd week as a down week at 55 miles (I really loved these weeks the last few months). 8×20 milers and a lot of them had some faster work in them. I had done a lot and I really felt like I had put my blood, sweat, and tears into this. It was after my 22 miler, which came 5 weeks before the race, where I finally felt ready. Nothing like cutting it close to the wire, huh? And while I felt ready, I was still so nervous. An 8 minute pace for an entire marathon, when most of my runs I run at a prescribed easy pace of 9:15-9:30 (or faster on the speed days). It felt like I was jumping head first into darkness. But time and time again I have read: Trust in the process. Trust in your training. And so I did.