Dream big, but allow yourself the opportunity to start small, and have your share of struggles in the beginning. The world's great composers weren't writing symphonies the day they first sat at a piano.
--Kevin O'Rourke, Marathoner
WARNING: I'm writing this in the middle of the night (well, early morning) so I'm probably actually really dreaming...that will be my excuse anyway if what I'm about to say is completely crazy...
I ran 20.22 miles on Saturday. (Well...walk/ran some of it, but that was out of the need to stay with a running partner more than a need to take a walk break.) (...and, yes, the .22 is completely necessary to add on!) I was hurting, no doubt about that...but my last mile and almost a quarter was just slightly under a 9:30 pace, and I felt like I could "easily" finish a marathon right then. Sunday I was a TINY BIT sore. Monday's 4 mile recovery run was interrupted three times so I could stretch out my tibialis (see photo). After the run was over, I felt GREAT! (So that's why they call it a "recovery" run, huh?!) Tuesday was a rest or cross train day so I rested.
Yesterday was my group
torture training day (maybe I've struckout the wrong word there??). We did Yasso 800s. Basically Bart (Chief Running Officer of Runner's World) says if you want to run a 4 hour marathon, shoot for 4 minute 800s. He says to start out doing 3 or 4 of them several months out (with either 200-400 of recovery, or the same time it took to run the 800)...and work up to doing 10 of them about 2 weeks before your race. The workout we did was a mile warm up then 8 X 800 with 2 minutes recovery between each one.
My A goal is 4 hours; B is 4:15 and C is 4:30. However, initially I was hoping to push myself to a 3:40-3:45 because that would be a 2013 BQ for me. (For my mom and any other non-runners reading this blog...that means "Boston Qualifier"...meaning I need to run a marathon (one that is labeled as a BQ race) in 3:45:00 or LESS between September 24, 2011 and September ?, 2012 in order to have even the chance to get into Boston. (It's really more complicated than that because they do this rolling entry thing where the faster people have a chance to enter first.) ((For the record-I COMPLETELY AGREE with this set up. That's the way I think it should be.)) So the truth is, more than likely in order to have a shot at getting in I would need to run 20 minutes faster (so a 3:25) to get in the first day...but that's not really the point. 3:45 is still a BQ TIME even if it won't guarantee me a spot in the actual race.
In those early workouts of the training plan I would repeat, over and over, "I'm going to Boston." Yes...I'm slightly embarrassed to admit this, but hey, who doesn't want to go to Boston if they are completely honest???? ((Well...I'm sure there are plenty of people who don't, and even plenty of runners who don't have their sights set that high...but I'm the kind of person who DREAMS BIG even if I lose the drive to make my dreams HAPPEN.))
So...getting back to last night's workout. Since my A goal was 4 hours, my goal 800 time was 4 minutes. That's an 8 minute pace. Sure, I've done that before, but could I do it EIGHT TIMES?? I was thankful there was a group of five of us doing it together...one other female, who is in my age group, who has been getting faster since we started...who I can't seem to keep up with anymore...who I desperately WANT to BEAT in the race...who will be now and forever called "Chickpea" in this blog. (Yes, it's a silly name, but there's a reason...and that's all I have to say about that.) ((Anyone who runs with us will know who it is, but I don't name people here, just nicknames.)) (((***WHY I want to beat her: she's in my age group, she started out a bit slower but has really taken off, she's faster than me, but I feel like if I push hard enough I might be able to catch her. Heck, I should really call her CARROT because that's the way it felt last night with me chasing her around the track!!)))
So...wow...8 minute pace for 8 X 800. I knew from past experience I would have the tendency to start off fast and fade through the work out. But, at the same time, doing them with the group meant I didn't have to pay as much attention to pace-after all there were 4 other people doing the same thing.
When I do track workouts I divide up the track into sections and try to hit that spot in X amount of time. 800 is twice around the track, so we should have been around once in 2 minutes, and half-way around in 1 minute. We hit that point in about :51. My brain started firing 9 X 4 is :36...holy stink, that's a 3:24 800. We slowed a bit and I stopped looking at my watch. Lap 1: 3:50
With each lap they got harder. But, they should have, we were running faster. Lap 2: 3:48, lap 3: 3:38, lap 4: 3:37.
By lap 5 (3:50) it was taking me the full 2 minutes to catch my breath fully, just in time to start again. I worried I wasn't going to be able to keep up, to be able to finish. I wanted to quit, or at the very least slow down to my A goal pace time of 4:00. My legs were so tired. Breathing became harder. But, dang it...Chickpea looked like she was out for a run in the park. The leader of our pack was leaving all of us in the dust the last few laps...the other two guys were falling back and charging ahead...but Chickpea seemed steady and strong the whole time, and was JUST ahead of me each time (by split seconds). Lap 6 (I think it was, maybe 7), I decided I would kick in a sprint for my sprint at the finish and made myself cross with her (in 3:45 for 6 and 3:43 for 7).
I thought I was going to puke...but only for a few seconds. I asked one of the head coaches if it was supposed to feel really bad. To my elation she said by all means YES. She said it was supposed to feel like I couldn't take one more step. Long runs are supposed to make me feel tired and ready to be done and maybe sore and achy...but this workout should make me feel COMPLETELY SPENT. CHECK!!! That made me feel surprisingly better because I knew at that point I was not failing.
Lap 8...last one...I wanted to give it my ALL. Make it count. Leave it all on the track for the night. Maybe even puke my guts up for once. As soon as we started the leader made time on all of us. Chickpea was about 20 feet or so ahead of me by the end first lap. All I kept thinking was that I wanted to finish with her...but my thoughts kept coming back to, "seriously...you can't catch her...give up...no shame...4 is good...let her be faster..." But as the finish got closer I knew I would kick myself if I stayed in that place of passive resignation. I ran as hard as my legs would go and closed in just a bit on her, but didn't quite get her before the "finish" (...if only I had that same resolve from the start). 3:43.
I came home, ate, got cleaned up and went to bed. I always have trouble sleeping on hard workout nights, but last night I fell asleep pretty quickly...only to wake up 4 hours later (2:30am). I couldn't stop thinking about my lap times and how good it felt to have some confidence in my 4 hour goal. Again...Bart says the 800s are a predictor of the time it will take to run a marathon.
So...the average of my Yasso 800s?? 3:44.25!! And...remember what my initial A goal was when we started this program?? 3:45. And...remember why that was my A goal? Boston Qualifier baby.
Dream big or go home. I think that quote sums me up better than the one I started the blog with. But, do I dare? Can I even think in those terms? It's 26.2 miles not 8 X 800 with recovery in between. Can I be happy with a 4 hour this year and then work on BQ for the NEXT marathon? Am I really going to go for another marathon before September? My main focus is triathlon...but having a BQ under my belt is very appealing.
I have no idea what I'll end up actually doing. I have a half this weekend that should be a great litmus test...but the 4 hour marathon goal put me at a 1:53 half goal time according to one of my marathon coaches. I don't know what a marathon goal of 3:45 would mean for my half. I was just looking for sub 2.
Dream big or go home....or dream big but start small. Didn't I already start small???