Alright…I SWEAR this is the last post on the marathon. I am sure you are getting quite sick of hearing about it? But humor me, because I am *recovering* and can’t run, so I will only be thinking, reading and writing about running for a few more days.
I have spent much of my time over the last several days reflecting on what went right in the months leading up to NYC, what went wrong, the decisions that I made and how all of that affected my day last Sunday. I also have spent time thinking about what that all means going forward as I prepare to train for Boston this winter. So, because there is no better way, here are my (somewhat rambling) thoughts, in bullet point format:
- Coaching. I wrote a post very early in NYC training about why I decided to get a coach. As I look back and read through that now, every word of it still holds true. I 100% stand by my decision to start working with a coach and I will continue to work with Kevin for Boston. Was it sunshine and rainbows? No. I was injured for the first time ever during training. Do I think it is his fault? No. Did we both learn from it? Yes, I absolutely believe we did. What I will say is that after the injury, I think getting to the starting line with some confidence can be attributed to my coach. He BELIEVED that I was ready to run that marathon and he believed that I could have a solid day. And in large part because of that, I did too. Despite not getting a PR, it truly was a great result for me on that course. I also KNOW that I got to the start line healthy because of him. Three weeks before the race, I REAAALLLY wanted to run 20 miles. Kevin told me no. If I wouldn’t have had a coach, I am positive I would have done it. Yes, my friends would have told me it was a bad idea, but I would have done it anyway. And now looking back, I know it would have been a big mistake. Taking the ability to make those kinds of decisions out of my hands is a relief for me and definitely results in me making fewer reckless/aggressive decisions.
- Injury. While we are on the subject, let’s talk a little more about the injury. What caused it? I don’t think I can point to one single thing. I think there were a number of things that contributed, but in general, I think sometimes sh*t just happens. What I do know is that I was training at higher intensity than I ever have before and I need to respect that. First, when Coach gives me pace and distance targets, there is a reason. Just because I can run faster or further doesn’t mean I should. Second, the schedule is set up the way it is for a reason. Flip flopping things around to accommodate my wine drinking should probably be at least reviewed with the person making the schedule. Third, I completely got away from the yoga/strength training routine that I followed during Eugene training. I believe incorporating those things allowed me to run higher mileage than ever before and stay healthy. And finally, while I believe that I can handle somewhat high mileage, I think I have to increase slowly…following the old 10% rule. Kevin and I have talked through these things (some of them multiple times) and I will definitely go into Boston training just a little bit smarter.
- Cross-training. Ya’ll, it works. Prior to NYC I ran ONE 18-mile long run (7 weeks out). Outside of that, I didn’t do one single run over 15.5 miles. Yet, I got to mile 22 of the marathon still feeling strong. I 100% attribute that to the amount of time that I spent cross-training to supplement long runs. My endurance was there. Even in the last 4 miles, it was really my legs being tired that prevented me from running faster (instead of maintaining pace), not my cardiovascular system. Jenny sent me this article that would back up this theory.
- Experience. I am no marathon expert. Not in any way, shape or form. But prior to NYC, I had run 5 marathons, each on a different course, with different experiences. During the race week, I spent a lot of time reflecting back on each one. I thought about how I felt at various points in the race, when/if I hit the *wall* and how I handled it. Part of the attraction to the marathon, and the thing that keeps me coming back (other than LOVING marathon training) is the mystery of it. How will my body react on any given day? Having the experience of going through this 5 times before helped me prepare for how I would react mentally to what my body gave me physically. I also believe that once your body goes through multiple training cycles, you continue to benefit from having those miles in your legs, even if it is more mental than physiological.
- NYC. This race is really special. It is BY FAR the hardest course I have ever run. I was prepared for the bridges and the Central Park rollers (which aren’t that bad), but I was not prepared for the steady inclines and constant rolling on the rest of the course. I prefer a race that is not completely flat, but between dodging the “masses of humanity” (as Erin put it) and the constant up/down, it definitely took its toll on my legs. But it was an amazing experience that I think will probably be tough to match…a 26.2 mile party for the runners. I will say it until I am blue in the face…if you run marathons, enter the lottery and just see what happens. You will (probably) not regret running this race. Logistics and expense aside, it is a must do.
I could not be more excited to start training for Boston. I didn’t come out of this training cycle burned out or needing a mental break from training and I am itching to run again. I have a plan for myself to incorporate strength training and yoga back in my life (starting with going to yoga twice this week already, holla!). Most importantly, I NEED to strengthen my hips and glutes and fix that ugly collapsing hip that I cringe at in every race picture.
Kevin and I had a great conversation last Sunday about what training for and racing Boston will look like for me. I get butterflies just thinking about and toeing the line in Hopkinton on April 21st. My family will be there, a hoard of my favorite running buddies will be there (WAY too many to list) and it is stacking up to be an amazing experience. I am only a little scared of what training in the Chicago winter will be like, but I have been assured by all of the Lakefront faithfuls that they will teach me their ways and lead me to the ice-free routes.
In the meantime, this should wrap-up the 2013 NYC Marathon talk. Happy Friday!