My first run and my most recent marathon.
Wow. Amazing how much difference a few years make. My first run where I couldn't make it an entire mile without stopping (and walking) compared to my latest marathon. As I try to type this tonight, I keep thinking back about those first days of running and how hard it was to even get out and start every morning. I remember forcing myself to keep trying harder, keep fighting that asthma, keep facing that cold winter air.
And now look how far I have come.
2 years, 50 pounds, 385 workouts, 2223 miles.
All that hard work lead up to a pretty satisfying performance for me at the Indy Monumental Marathon this past weekend. To be honest, I wasn't sure how it was going to go. I had been training with this new SMART plan which had me resting more than the previous marathon plans I had used. I had run some of my best long runs during that training and even had a great half marathon race at Iron Horse. I knew I was getting faster but how would that translate to race day as I tapered down my training leading up to it?
I tried to figure out what pace I should be able to run. I really had no idea. Could I pull off the 7:13 pace that I did for the Iron Horse? That pace would put me very close to Boston qualifying, could I possibly qualify already? I came back to reality. That was a half marathon and if I went out at that pace, I would be done by mile 15. However, I knew I should be able to run faster than my last marathon... but how much faster?
I didn't really decide on how fast to start out until race morning. I got up and was getting ready when I noticed I didn't have my armband for my phone. We had packed up things rather quickly that day before we drove up to Indianapolis so I figured it had separated from the rest of my running things. After some time searching I came to the realization.... I had left it at home!
You have to understand, I had used my phone to track EVERY SINGLE run/race/walk/workout since I started that first day in the winter of 2011. I have my running playlist of music on it as well as the notifications of what pace I am running for every mile. I had recently been debating about running without it and just going with how my body felt since I had read that people have ran their best races that way. This day my decision had been made for me!
As I headed into the race corral that morning I remembered that Indy Monumental had pace runners. Basically there are runners who are confident in the time that they are going to finish and carry a small sign with that time on it. Runners can run with them to try to achieve their goals for finishing times. I knew my last marathon in Louisville earlier this year I had posted a time of 3:44 so I figured a good goal would be 3:30 for this one as it was a flatter course.
I started in that group around the pace runner but noticed that my body kept wanting to run faster. I figured I would listen to it since I could tell my heart rate wasn't too high and I felt pretty good. I pushed ahead of the group and before long, I caught up with the 3:20 pace runner and group. I settled into that pace and it felt about right, until I got to about mile 20. By this time, I could tell that I had been running faster than normal for that distance (and it hurt). I figured I was already ahead of my best time so I just told myself to try to keep a steady pace and I would be happy with the results. I fell a little behind by the time the finish line came around but I still finished with a great time of 3:22 which is about a 7:45/mile pace.
I think I am going to run without my phone or music for every marathon from now on. I had a lot of comments on my St. Jude Hero shirt which allowed me to talk with a few folks along the way. Being in the pace group was a good experience as well. The pace runner that was with the 3:20 group was great at it. You could really tell that he enjoyed running by the way he interacted with the group. There was also great crowd support with plenty of cheering, bands, cowbells, and hilarious signs so I never really felt bored during the entire race. A good experience all around.
The 3:22 finish puts me 17 minutes away from Boston qualifying. That really makes the goal seem more obtainable doesn't it? Especially when I realized that I improved 31 minutes from the same race last year. I now have a training plan that I can adapt as I improve and know for a fact is working. Hopefully 2014 is the year that I pull it off!
Wish me luck!