Archive for October 19, 2010

Today represents Week 1, Day 1 of Austin Marathon Training.  Sunday’s race at the IBM Uptown Classic served as a great way to close the books on my summer race season, mentally turn the page and set my sights on a return to the Boston Marathon in 2012.

As much as I would have loved to run a “Boston time” at last year’s race, I have come to realize that had that occurred; it truly would have been almost by accident.  Last spring Run for Dom was not really about “peaking” for one marathon, my training was really geared toward putting myself in the best position possible to complete two major marathons in 13 days.

When I look back on that training cycle and some of the obstacles that conspired against us, running that 3:22:42 at the 114th Boston Marathon was pretty damn remarkable.

Due to the shin splint injury I suffered in November, I was forced to take off three weeks from running in December.  Not a single training mile was logged over that time.  I gradually worked back over two weeks at the start of the new year and started my marathon training cycle 16 weeks prior to race day instead of the standard 18 weeks.

I was forced to limit my “run days” to four per week instead of the traditional five, mixing in cycling cross training to hopefully make up the difference.

Instead of three 20-mile training runs prior to race day, I only ran two and my weekly run mileage topped out at 45.5, less than I ran the last several weeks for kicks and grins.

Despite all of that, we hung in pretty tough at Boston only to falter late in the race as we reached heartbreak hill.  13 days later we took to the streets of Pittsburgh and completed the Run for Dom “double” making a real difference in the lives of Dom, Val, Sierra and Nico.  That was the real “victory” last spring.  My race results were not what I had hoped for, but to be honest, I’m not sure I would change anything about the experience if given the chance.

Run for Dom was never supposed to be “easy”.  That was the point.  But as I look back at my training logs and see just how “difficult” it really was, shows me how much strength I was drawing from Dom’s fight against cancer.  There was not a single workout missed, and not a single day where I thought, “poor me, why can’t I be healthy to train the way that I would like to”. 

All I had to do was take a look at the way Dom continued to fight each and every day to survive, and anything that was going on in my life was completely margnialized as it should have been.

Frankly, it is only now that I’m realizing that anything was “different”

So today marks truly a new beginning Running for Dom.  Austin is a race where I plan on training my absolute best and hardest to run my very “best” marathon in honor of Dom.  This race is all the more special as there will not be another marathon lurking behind it less than two weeks later.  One race, one day, where it all comes together like Pittsburgh in 2009 or like IBM this past weekend.

This morning the first of 88 training runs leading to the starting line at the Livestrong Austin Marathon begins.  In the next 18 weeks 799.70 training miles will be run to prepare for race day.

Last year I was able to run only 480.5 prior to Boston.  Back in 2009 when I ran my Boston time of 3:17:43 I covered 687.2 prior to the Pittsburgh Marathon.  I’m willing to go all-in this time and I’m going to do everything I can to prepare for the race of my life.  Anything less would do a disservice to Dom and his family.

This summer has been about getting back to full health, increasing our speed and our base mileage so that we can confidently and with great health add 16% more mileage to our training and preparation for Austin.  Add another 300 miles of cross-training on the tri-bike between now and race day and I think we have a training plan that will produce great results on February 20th.

Austin Marathon Training Plan

I will be almost two years older than I was in May of 2009.  Only a fool would dismiss that as a footnote.  I know I have my work cut out for me to run a “best ever” Marathon.  But I know this, I haven’t run my best marathon yet for Dom – I know that I am capable of much more than I showed on the streets from Hopkinton to Boston last April.  And certainly more than I showed 13 days later in Dom’s hometown.

This time the race will be in my hometown, on my streets and on last count I have a pretty impressive group of marathoners coming to Austin to race alongside me.  Never will I have had so many people in my corner and never before have I had Dom pulling strings for me from high above.

The first steps out onto a marathon course are something that I wish everyone could experience just once.  Runners and non-runners alike can appreciate what the final steps must be like.  Crossing the finish line after a tough, tough race, experiencing the joy in competition and achievement.

But it is those first strides, which you really remember when you look back on the race months later.  I remember the crowd carrying me forward across the mat at my first marathon in Philly 2006.  I had no idea what the day would bring, and whether or not I had what it would take to finish inside of me.

In Pittsburgh in 2009 I remember having a razor sharp focus over the timing mat.  I was going for Boston; I had trained harder and better than ever before.  I was in the best shape of my life and I was going for it. 

I still see that runner when I look in the mirror each morning.

At Boston the first strides felt like I was standing on the sidelines watching someone else take off for Boston.  The experience was so surreal, so vivid, I can hardly wait for the day I get back there and I get to take another crack at that course. 

I can do better.  I will do better.

Last year at Pittsburgh on tired legs, I remember a smile creeping onto my face as I went out on to the course, knowing that all I had to do was finish.  If I crossed that line running, walking or crawling it really didn’t matter.  I just needed to go get that Finisher’s Medal for Dom.

As vivid as those memories are, I always make a point to remember the first strides of my first marathon training run as well.  As I wait for my GPS to find its signal and glance down at the face on the clock which reads 00:00:00, I think for a moment about how far I will be traveling to the starting line on race day.  In this case just under 800 miles all for the chance to run 26.2 of the best miles of my life.

Dom, don’t you worry, I’ve got this one.  We’re heading back to Boston together.  I know it in my heart. 

I just have to take care of a few things first.