Today marks Day 5 post- Richmond Marathon. I’ve already run twice since- 5 easy/recovery paced miles on Tuesday, and the same today. I’ve also already started thinking about plans for my next race. 🙂 Call me crazy/addicted/ whatever, there is just something absolutely awesome about the challenge of racing 26.2 miles on foot.
5 years ago, I would have told you there’s no way I would ever sign up for a marathon. A 5K, sure! I couldn’t even run longer than 25 minutes or so at a time. However, instead of doubting myself, I decided to give it a try… After all, a bunch of people in my local running club seemed to love marathons, and, were going to do a “little” race called Marine Corps Marathon. The spring of 2009 I signed myself up, and by June, my “official” 1st marathon training began. I followed a combination of marathon training plans.. sought advice from experienced marathoners, and, found a runner friend who had a similar pace/time goal as me. Looking back now, Placing a goal of 4 hours or less for my first marathon was probably pretty gutsy. Not to mention, the only races I had done up until that point was a few 5K’s. The longest “long run” I had ever run was around 7 miles.
After 18 weeks of training, the moment arrived, and I was in my starting corral for Marine Corps Marathon 2009. I’ll never forget looking at my Garmin around mile 20, and, realizing that if I could just keep up my pace, I could potentially break 4 hours. The last 6 miles were very painful (I ran the first half way to hard and fast), but, I managed to keep running… I just wanted it to be done. I crossed the finish line with a net time of 3:49:45. At that moment, I was now a “marathoner”.
I’ve completed 4 more marathons since. What truly hooked me was what hooks many marathoners.. The quest for Boston. After coming so close (9 min. 45 sec) within qualifying on my first marathon, maybe I could on my second try.. I also turned 35 the next year, so the qualifying standards would change. At the time, instead of needing a 3:40:00, I would “only” need a 3:45:00. I looked up the top 10 fastest marathon courses (with the highest percentage of BQ’s) in the U.S., and found one within driving distance. October 10, 2010, I ran Steamtown Marathon in Scranton, PA. I went in relaxed, fairly confident, and, enjoyed conversing with a few other runners along the course. Coming into the finish, I noticed on the clock, I was about to run sub- 3:30:00. I pushed at the end, and landed a 3:28:04. I also got the BQ I wanted!
Finally, in April 2011, I headed up to Boston. However, my training took a huge blow. I injured my right leg (tendonitis) six weeks prior to the Boston Marathon, and had to take those six weeks off of running completely. I would NEVER recommend to anyone to do what I did. If it was any race other than Boston, I would have deferred, or, dropped the race altogether. But, travel plans had already been made, and, I figured worse case- I would just try to jog some and walk most of it. What happened in the end was a 4:24:07 finish. It was grueling, and I’m lucky I didn’t land in the emergency room due to big time sub-par training. My leg injury was fine however, on the bright side of things.
While I will always be eternally grateful to have made it to Boston, and, to have achieved getting my Boston medal. I really, really want to go back and run the course healthy and well trained. I BQ’ed for a second time at Chicago Marathon last year (’12), but, because of the very high volume of registered applicants, my time of 3:38:50 (1 Minute and 10 seconds faster than my qualifying time) was 28 seconds too slow to make the cutoff. Disappointed yes, but, not devastated.
This year, I decided to put my sights on running the Philadelphia Marathon. I was going to go with a couple of running friends and make it a “run-cation” weekend. As things turned out, in the midst of my training, my daughter’s cheer competition schedule came out, and, the same weekend as Philly, she had to be in Richmond, VA. for her first competition of the season. I knew I would have to be there with her to help get her ready, so, I had to ditch the Philly trip. So, I did what any logical marathoner would do.. I looked up the date of the Richmond Marathon. I was pretty sure it was the same weekend. Sure enough! It was the same day as Philly Marathon.
My training continued throughout the summer and early fall. My weekly mileage was not as high as I was aiming for. Speed work was almost non-existent. I almost scratched the race altogether about a month out, fearing that I hadn’t run consistently enough during the weekday runs. My long runs went fairly well, and, on schedule. I even managed to get a total of 3 twenty mile long runs in during this training cycle. However, on the days leading up to the race, I didn’t feel very confident that I had trained well enough to run my goal of a 3:35:00 or faster.
I’m going to save my “Richmond Race Report” for my next blog post. But, I will say in the meantime… The marathon distance is something that should always be respected, and never underestimated. It’s not just about doing 13.1 miles “twice”. It is a distance that should be taken very seriously. However, with the right training (and mindset), you never know what you’re capable of, until you give it a try…
Do you run marathons? Any favorites? Do you have any “bucket-list” marathons?