Friday, April 22, 2011

How I laid out my plan: A Letter from the Past

I knew it wasn’t just going to be one post about Boston. If you want to know how it all came together, here it is…

Exactly 6 weeks before the Boston Marathon, I was on a plane from Rochester to Florida. I knew it was time to hone in and get everything into place to make the final six weeks go as smoothly as possible. So, I wrote a letter to myself and laid out my plan…

In exactly 6 weeks (it is 10:30AM), the starting pistol will go off and begin my dream race: Boston 2011. The past 2 weeks, I have trained with what I think is a new intensity and passion. I have a new goal in mind: sub 3:30. I think in the past I have been hesitant to set big goals, in part because I don’t want to fail and disappoint myself. But I now have 2 years of marathon training under my belt, and over a year of more focused training through Sarah’s guidance. And now, I am staring into the distance, imagining Hopkinton, Ashland, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline, and finally, the promise of Boston that awaits me. The picture is simultaneously clearer and blurrier. I have run Boston before. I know exactly what Heartbreak Hill feels like. But what will it feel like if I step outside of myself, dig deep, push myself, reach and find that new layer?

I could make my dreams come true.

In order for me to succeed in exactly six weeks, a number of things need to come together.

· I need to hone in on my tempo runs. I have finally gotten the hang of them and they are working.

· I need to keep my nutrition on par. I have come to find a lot of great foods that help fuel my runs as well as aid in my recovery. I have learned that just a little bit of planning with this has made a difference. I think I eat better in general. Instead of pizza and fries for lunch, it’s a roast beef sandwich and yogurt. I don’t drink as much. I drink more milk. I don’t splurge on fast food, since I don’t necessarily know if there’s gluten in a product that probably isn’t good for me anyways. It must be working.

· I need to maintain consistency with my cross training. It is hard doing double days of cross training, and I don’t get that same thrill of a 5:30AM alarm to go rowing that I do for running. But with 6 weeks to go, I need to push on, divide my time, and make it manageable. I can vary things up.

· I need to keep some strength training as well, and continue to do my ITB exercises. These are all of the ancillary things that can make a major difference.

· I need to trust the process. 2 weeks ago, I called this a leap of faith. But while I am partly in awe and disbelief of the possibility of going sub 3:30, I need to believe that this can and will work. Sarah trains with people who have gone to the Olympic Trials. I do track workouts that Olympic Trials qualifiers do. This works: double days, tempo runs, 2 types of track workouts in one, they all lead to great results.

· I know how to step outside of myself. It is funny, but the teeny, almost impromptu Freezeroo 8 miler in some ways may have been a signal that I am ready for a breakthrough. I went through the first mile in 6:53 and it felt easy. I set a PR in the 5k, and I wondered how this was possible. The same thing happened at the 10k mark. I am getting better at pushing myself, and feeling more comfortable being uncomfortable. This is working, and I will be testing myself again on March 26th at the National Half Marathon, aiming to run sub 1:37 in order to receive an automatic bid for the NYC Marathon (revised: mission accomplished – 1:34:37).

· I need to run with joy. I gain strength from my family and friends, and I need to harness that. I just came off of an amazing weekend at Kathleen and Sandeep’s wedding. That joy even translated into my long run. I ran 19 miles on the treadmill, averaging 8:18 pace. That is solid for a long run, considering long runs are supposed to be about 45 seconds slower than race pace. This should mean than 8 minute miles should feel relatively comfortable. Even though it was mentally challenging to stay focused on the treadmill for so long, in some ways, I know it will be easier in Boston. I’ll have changes in scenery, and I’ll have people cheering for me and supporting me. I can tap into that. I think I did yesterday, and certainly saw positive results. I am going to be spending this week with the Uibles. That will give me joy too. I can use that as I begin to peak in training, which will help me feel solid in the taper.

I am looking at a big breakthrough. But I have the tools in hand, a brand new body that I myself have rebuilt, and a support system that will be there for me along the way.

This is an achievable dream that I can reach.

Now is the time.

When I wrote this, I was focused, and sharp – ready for the final press. Reading that now, I have a big lump in my throat.

Because it really was an achievable dream.

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