10 Days to Boston …. Could I have done more?

Posted: April 8, 2010 in Motivation, Training
Tags: , , , ,

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.

  1. James Coyle says:

    Great post again, Joe. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog over the last couple of months – it has been helpful, insightful and inspirational.

    I am only a couple of weeks away from my challenge – London Marathon on April 25th- and heading into the taper period too, how time has flown.

    Although I have never met you in person, on a couple of occassions I found myself thinking about your commitment to training and what you are running for during some of the difficult training sessions and it really helped me knock back those miles.

    Good luck at Boston, am 100% sure you will reach your goals.

  2. joerunfordom says:

    James – thanks so much for the visit and kind words – I’ve really enjoyed exchanging messages with you over our training period(s) – it sounds like you are peaking at the right time and will race very well at London. That will give me something to look forward to on the weekend in between Boston and Pittsburgh.

    Please drop by and fill me in on your race – hopefully by then I’ll be going down steps forwards not backwards at that point and even running a few miles …

    Take good care and best with your taper! J

  3. Man Joe, now you have me already worried about my taper for Cleveland. And it doesn’t start for another 2-1/2 weeks. Thanks a lot. Seriously though, good post and the paranoia probably indicates more than anything that you have been very serious about your preparations, and will be just fine. I am eager to hear how the 2 marathons in 2 weeks goes, as I am looking to do the same in the fall (though fortunately, mine will be separated by 15 instead of 13 days – though not sure that makes a difference).

    • joerunfordom says:

      Greg – thanks for the visit and all the support here and over on Dailymile! I will be sure to pass along any tips and experience I gain going through the “double” – Those extra two days may turn out to be a big help – they say however the first 24-48 hours is the most critical. Important to ice, rest, replenish carbohydrates, massage etc. – I will be doing all of the above! Take good care Greg and best of luck with your remaining training and stay busy during that taper!

  4. Joe says:

    Hey Joe – at this point, my man, you’ve done all you can do. By that I mean there’s not much more you can do – outside of taking it easy and enjoying this hard-earned down time – to assure that you’re ready & set to go in Boston. Based on what I’ve seen you post, there’s no doubt in my mind that you’re ready to rock it for Dom. If you cross the finish line, and you feel like there’s things you could have done differently, well, you’ll have plenty of time to reflect on and learn from that, and it will only help you in the bigger picture that is your life moving forward as a runner. Having done some things wrong surrounding Philly ’09 (I think I might have done *too much*), I looked back, assessed everything around, and had a much better race at Ocean Drive a couple weeks ago. It’s all part of the process. You live, you run, you learn.

    I’m sure you will do superb and be very happy about your effort. Stay calm, keep those nerves in check, and manage your nutrition – that’s all you can do from here. I know I’m excited for you!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Joe – thanks so much for the visit and the comment! Very wise words Joe, and you made me feel much better about everything having read them.

      When I think back to Philly 2006 I ran that race basically on guts alone. Very little guile and even less experience. It’s all part of the process and is what makes marathoning so challenging – but at the same time so great.

      Thanks again for the support and encouragement! Take good care, Joe

  5. Sarah says:

    I don’t think so. I think you planned and trained and worked hard, and now it’s time to get ready for Boston and kick some ass for Dom. I’ll send you some cheers from here to help steam you over the hills! 😉

  6. Tara says:

    Stumbled upon this looking for Boston Marathon pics. I think what you’re doing is great and I wish you lots of luck. Also sending lots of positive vibes to Dom. I’m sure it helps to know he has such a wonderful friend in his corner.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Tara – thanks so much for the visit and all of the kind words. I really appreciate you taking the time to send along some much needed encouragement. Take good care, J

  7. […] There were plenty of times I thought it must be wrong, they must mean to go faster, surely this is too slow, they can’t mean go for a run tonight. But I just had to keep telling myself to TRUST THE PLAN, always trust the plan. This is especially difficult during the taper weeks.  (I think this is something that deserves a more detailed post – but a running friend I met on Twitter, Joe, writes about it brilliantly here.) […]

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