Archive for December 13, 2011

18 weeks until the Boston Marathon.

For the last two years all I have been able to think about when it comes to the marathon was this opportunity to return to Boston and take care of some unfinished business from 2010.  I have had more time to think about this race than any other event since I took up this crazy sport of ours, and now it has finally arrived.

I was out with some non-runner friends recently who have an intellectual curiosity about the marathon as they have followed me from out of shape, overweight, couch potato to 6-time marathoner, 2-time Boston Qualifier and budding triathlete.  All after age 40.

Some of it is just that, curiosity.  I think there is some level of wondering whether or not they could “be that guy too” – but that is a post for another day.  For them it is just a matter of really wanting it and then taking those first tentative strides towards something new and a little bit scary.  Everyone has that in them somewhere, finding it is the hard part.

The topic turned to how I felt about other marathoners who weren’t as fast as I am – those marathoners who finish in 5 hours, 6 hours, 7 hours – do I view them really as “runners”.

The answer that I gave them I think surprised them a bit – but it is something that I have felt strongly about since my very first attempt at 26.2 miles in Philly back in 2006.

It is not the actual racing of a marathon that impresses me – all kinds of things can happen on race day to impact results.  Weather, injury, having an off-day … each one of those instances can turn a Personal Best performance into something far, far less than that.

It is the training for the marathon that impresses me.  The hard work, preparation, dedication, sacrifice and flat-out stubbornness that it takes to make it to the starting line that to me defines what a marathoner really is.

5 hours, 4 hours, 3 hours – there is always going to be a runner out there that can go faster than you can.  The question really is can you go faster than yourself?  Can you run the very best race that YOU are capable of.  Really put it out there, prepare for greatness and then give it all you have on race day?  Can you do that?  Do you have that will and belief inside of you?

Do you have what it takes to really pour everything that you have into your training and then go out on race day and leave it all out there?

There is no one-size fits all time requirement for greatness.  Only you can set those parameters.  Only you know what you sacrificed to be in the position to go all in and take a big risk.  That is the way you get big rewards.

So with Boston 18-weeks off our “official” marathon training begins once again – possibly for the final time.  I hate to say “never”, because that just isn’t a word that resides in the vocabulary of an endurance athlete or marathoner.  Never = Can’t and that just doesn’t work.

But Boston is going to mark the end of this 5-year period of training and racing for me.  It will be my final big race as a member of the 40-44 year old Age group and after recovering from the race we will be jumping in literally with both feet to a full Triathlon racing slate through spring, summer and fall culminating (I hope) with our first half-ironman at the Longhorn 70.3 in October.

From there?  I’m not entirely sure.  I will sit back after Longhorn with a half-dozen triathlons under my belt and try to discern where our future and our passion is.  Do I want to continue to pursue the Triathlon in a serious way, focus on run-only events or continue trying to straddle the fence and compete in both?  Tough to tell right now, but this sport has proven to me time and time again that it will be clear to me when the time to make the decision arrives exactly what I need to do next.

Landry and Dawn will have a lot to say about it as well as life is certainly going to get a bit more complicated in the next year or so as Landry has her own adventures and discoveries.

So what will the training look like this time?  Well, here’s the plan:

2012 Boston Marathon Training Plan

Like the last two training cycles leading up to Austin last February and New York City this November, there is a healthy balance of run days, rest days and cross training days.

We will be racing a bit (Green dates) with one team-ultra 200 mile race from Miami to the Florida Keys in January, followed by three half-marathons and the Capital of TX 10K.  The only other race that may pop up would be a “resolution run” on New Year’s Day if we decide to run a small local 5K for some speed work.

We will be running some “Doubles” on Tuesdays for the next month to help prepare for our three legs in less than 24 hours from Miami to the Keys.

So far I really like the added run and mileage, so we may keep the Tuesday doubles up until the final taper for Boston – but for now, this is the plan.

The other major change is the addition of running “downhill” hill repeats every third Thursday to prepare for the treacherous downhill start of the Boston Marathon from Hopkinton to Newton.  A closer look at our mileage shows a jump in total miles and the number of 20-22 mile runs which will reach 7 during this training cycle.

Closer look at mileage

As the cycle moves along I’m sure that more mileage will be added here and there over the course of the journey.  On the way to New York we added close to 9% more mileage over 18 weeks.  Better to schedule conservatively in my view and add if and when you feel strong than to over-commit and feel like you are “cutting corners” when you need to dial things back a bit to stay healthy.

Tuesday morning this week kicks it all off – it is going to be one helluva ride.  On to Boston.