Archive for April 8, 2010

It started this morning.  As I was staring into the bathroom mirror with shaving cream on my face, I had the first taper-induced, paranoia driven thoughts with Boston now just 10 days away.  To be honest, I’m surprised it took this long to get here.  I feel like I did a pretty good job making it all the way through the first 11 days of the Taper period before my psyche started to give out on me a bit.

As I mentioned last week, this taper stuff can drive you crazy.  It will be three full weeks, plus one additional tortuous day when we reach Patriot’s Day in Boston since my final 20-mile training run.  22 days is a long time to be without that “next big workout” to look forward to on the training schedule.  It is during this period of relative “down time” that the mind starts to wander a bit and doubt begins to creep in.

In preparing for Philly in 2006 I remember being very worried that my troublesome IT Band pain that I experienced during the latter stages of my training would return and ruin my marathon debut.  As it turned out, I was right to be worried as the pain arrived at the 14 mile mark and I struggled through the final 12 miles in significant pain to a 3:58:08 in my first marathon.

Philadelphia Marathon - Painful First Race

Last year preparing for Pittsburgh I felt very good about my training and my health but wondered if I had done enough speed work and tempo work to hold that 7:37/mile pace I needed to achieve my Boston time of 3:20:59.  It turned out that all of my worries were for naught as I raced a beautiful race at Pittsburgh and posted a 3:17:43 qualifying time.

Pittsburgh - Boston Qualifier

So what about this year?  A lot of people are asking me if I am worried about the race at Pittsburgh on May 2nd and if I feel ready to run two marathons just 13 days apart.  To be honest, I don’t really have any time right now to be worried about Pittsburgh.  I’ve found that when you start looking too far ahead in life you are asking for trouble.

Boston is the first step in completing Run for Dom and that is the step I am focusing on right now.  Most of the housekeeping is in order as racing more than 1,500 miles away from home definitely complicates things.  There are plane tickets to buy, hotel rooms to secure, restaurant reservations to make, post-race massage appointments to schedule.  There are pre and post race meet-ups to organize, packing, transportation, nutritional needs – all which need to be arranged for and addressed prior to race day.  I feel like I’ve done a good job managing those tasks to date and do not have any of those “to-do list” items hanging over my head adding to my stress level.

So right now it is more about my training.  We made some fairly significant changes to our training schedule this cycle to prepare for two marathons in just under two weeks.  We also were battling back from our first ever bout with shin splints which delayed our training start by 14 days this year.  To compensate for those two variables our traditional 18-week training program became a 16 week program to Boston, 18-weeks to Pittsburgh.  I decided to treat the Boston Marathon much like I would my 3rd and final “20-mile” training run.

In addition to take some pressure off of my shin, I dropped from 5 running days per week to 4, while adding 3 cycling workouts each week as cross-training.  Something I had never done before.  I stuck to my 3 time per week strength training schedule with my personal trainer and felt that all of that hard work would get us to Hopkinton, MA on April 19th trained, rested and ready to go.

With only a handful of workouts remaining it looks as if I will be able to run every mile of my training plan with no exceptions, cycle every mile and lift every weight.  Crunch every abdominal muscle, squat every repetition at the gym and push-up every …. well …. push-up.

So why all of the worries?  The above seems like a perfectly good plan right?  Well, I’m worried because that’s what you do the week before a marathon.  I find myself asking all of the same questions.  Did I run enough?  Did I rest enough?  Am I eating right?  Did I push hard enough at the gym?

To sum it up – could I have done more? That is the question I am really nibbling around the edges of.  Could I have done anything more to prepare to race well for Dom.  After all, it’s not Run for Joe – there is an entirely different element at stake here as I find myself running for a cause.  There are added responsibilities and a higher commitment level.  For lack of a better word it’s just “different” this time around.  I may not be the most aware person out there, but even I am smart enough to know that much.

Training Ground

As I look back through my training log I can’t really point to any workouts where I mailed it in.  I ran hills when I needed to.  I hit my goals during my tempo runs and my intervals.  I pushed hard during my fast-finish long runs and ran plenty of miles at race pace.

Wednesday’s workout called for my final “hard run” before really shutting it down and simply running easy through the remainder of my taper period.  It is a mistake to run hard too close to race day and risk injury – so I make certain my final “Ricky Bobby” run is my last 10K over 10 days prior to race day.

I really rocked Wednesday’s 6-mile run in 40:59 (6:49 pace) with splits of 7:00, 6:41, 7:03, 6:59, 6:47 and 6:35 finishing with my fastest single mile of my training period.  I feel good, I feel ready, I feel like I can go out and run my race at Boston.  We’ll see what that translates to as far as a time – I am very reluctant to put a hard goal in place until the weather forecast becomes a bit clearer.  Temperatures and winds will play a major role at Boston – perhaps as much as 10 minutes +/- on race day.  Hopefully the training hours I put in will be enough.

I think the first time I will know for sure will be coming down from the top of Heartbreak Hill exiting mile 21.  I’ll know then.  I’ll know exactly how much I have left in the tank and whether we did enough over these past 16 weeks preparing for Boston. 

Pittsburgh?  Plenty of time to obsess about that race.  I’ll have 12 days after Boston to go through all of this one more time.  Someone mentioned to me that I will be flying more than 6,300 miles in two weeks to run just 52.4.  They didn’t seem to get it. 

It’s not about the 52.4 miles; it’s about what happens over those 52.4 miles.  I think they’ll get it when it’s over.