Prior to running Erie, I wasn’t sure if I would actually sign up for Boston. Qualifying for it wouldn’t be an issue, I figured I’d qualify pretty easily my first shot out, but I just didn’t find myself to be all that excited about it. I didn’t consider myself a marathoner. I was essentially running Erie because I was tired of people asking me if I’d run a marathon. I was still finding trouble finding that motivation to race again and figured I’d call it quits for the marathon after one try. This wasn’t like I was trying to qualify for NCAA’s; there was no motivation to train hard for anything at this point.
I can’t say that much changed after Erie. I signed up for Boston and just said Well I qualified, why not just run it? and just figured I would just enjoy the trip. Following Club Nationals in December my mentality changed entirely. I had just come off one of the best races I’ve had in years and I was ready to take this into the new year.
I told myself, Well I qualified , why not run fast?
So I spent the last couple months training hard for my second crack at the marathon. My training began back in California over break where I took advantage of the fantastic weather and ran some of the best times over the training routes I’d been running since high school. I think I went a bit overboard back there (closing a 9 mile run in 5:06 is a bit much) but I was having fun with it. I would be backing down the pace as I ramped up my training.
The plan for this buildup would be, 70, 70, 80, 80, 90, 90, 100 with the last month and a half to tune up and add workouts.
This build up has tested my will more than I ever would have imagined. Unlike college, I didn’t have much free time to fit running into my schedule. A 45 minute commute and an 8-5 meant I had to try and fit miles in any free time that I could. This means my lunch breaks would be filled with me working out, trying to squeeze in as many miles as possible during an hour lunch break. Run during lunch, run after work, and do it all again the next day. Winter decided it wanted to make up for the nice weather we had in November and December and brought freezing temps and lots of snow that made it hard to run without slipping. I had achilles aches throughout this buildup which made running almost unbearable at times. Even when my car broke down I still managed 5 miles waiting for my tow truck to come. I literally ran quarter mile segments from my car to get my miles in for the day and tacked on 16 miles the day before a 5K to catch up for my weekly goal. None of that stopped me. Nothing was going to stop me from my goal of reaching 100.
Three days away from 100, I decided to hit the track. The plan was for 12x1K with 200 meter jog recovery. I went through my first two pretty easy. I was clicking off 5:20 pace without much effort. As I came into the second lap of the third repeat I felt a burning in my achilles. That burning changed into a stabbing pain that dismantled my stride immediately. I finished the repeat and decided to cut the workout. Walking afterwards felt fine. I changed shoes and went for a long cool down to stay on pace for my mileage goal. Shortly after starting the stabbing pain came back and I knew it was time to shut it down completely. 3 day away from and one workout takes that away. Running can be a cruel mistress.
For the last couple weeks I’ve been rehabbing my achilles and incorporating some running while I can. I had a bad flare up last week and went to see a PT who essentially told me that I had been doing all the right things and it’s not bad enough to stop running. We will continue to stay on routine while also adding some ultrasound and graston. I’m less than 30 days from Boston and my goal is to rehab and try and maintain the fitness I’ve built through this base phase of my build-up. There is a definite possibility that I could be coming into Boston with no workouts in this build-up but if that means that I’ll be able to run it healthy, it’ll be all worth it.
Thinking about it now it’s amazing how much of a 180 I’ve made. 6 months ago I wasn’t all that excited for this race and while I may be injured right now, I just came off the best 6 week stretch of my running career. More than that it’s also shown me how much I’ve grown through this sport. Had this happened in undergrad I would have been horribly depressed. I’m still frustrated but it hasn’t shaken me. I’ve come to understand that injuries come with the sport and there’s still opportunities to come out of them stronger.
I don’t know what is going to happen at Boston but I haven’t given up. I may not be able to run the 2:29.59 goal I set for myself but a PR is not off the table. I’ll absolutely take that if I can take this fitness into a great summer training block and not get sidelined like I did at Erie. We’ll get there, I’m sure.