I made my hotel reservation for next spring’s Boston Marathon yesterday.
Pretty ballsy for someone who is not sitting on a qualifying time at the moment. But to be completely honest, I’m not worried at all about running a “Boston Time” at the Big Cottonwood marathon on September 14th. If it weren’t for the fact that I think hotel rooms are going to become incredibly scarce (and expensive) as Boston approaches next year – I wouldn’t be thinking that far ahead at all.
For the first time in a long, long time I am 100% focused on the here and now. I’m not looking too far down the road or worrying about an upcoming race or workout – I’m completely committed to my training plan and to relying on Coach Carmen’s ideas about how to prepare me for September 14th.
If the plan calls for 8 miles with the middle 6 at steady date 6:20-6:30 like this past weekend the day before my Sunday long run – I’m running them as prescribed. No thought about is it too much, too little, will I be able to bounce back quick enough for Sunday’s workout.
Just shut-up and do the work. (I crushed the workout on Saturday by the way).
Tomorrow morning’s workout calls for a 2-mile warm-up, dynamic exercise and then 3 miles in and out 100’s at 6:30 pace. Meaning I am going to “run” the straightaway 100’s at 10K pace (6:10 ish), then dial back on the curves of the track for 100 meters around 6:50 min./mile.
Run the straights, cruise the curves X 12.
2 mile cool down. It will end up being a 7-mile workout, with 24 100’s at 6:10 pace, 24 100’s at MGP. It will be my 9th run day in the last 10 days and I could not be more excited about the workout. My legs feel strong, my cardio is in a great place – and even though we are coming off a rather disappointing race at Bun Run a week and a half ago – I’m moving past it – chalking it up more to course and conditions than anything else.
Today’s easy day left me feeling like I had a lot more to give at the end of 8 miles as I was cruising along in the low 7:20’s – feeling no fatigue or beat-down from the increase in runs and mileage.
I know that we have a long way to go – and that as the summer heats up here in Austin there are going to be tough days and flat workouts. That is all part of the making of the marathoner.
But right now I am just taking the workouts one day at a time, one mile at a time, one lap at a time, one 100 meter interval at a time.
On race day I am already visualizing that same approach. I am going to glance down at my pace tat on my left forearm at the start of every mile and run 26 consecutive one mile races.
No faster, no slower, no worries about mile 22 when I am on mile 16 or mile 6. Just run the mile that is at hand. When that one is done, run the next one, then the next one and the next one.
All of the pressure that I had been putting on myself to plan my workouts, execute those workouts and evaluate them has been passed over to Coach. It is perhaps the greatest gift I have ever gotten in the sport with the exception of watching Dom’s battle with cancer and being taught what true courage really is.
I feel like a giant weight has been lifted and now I am just a runner who is doing what he is told to do. Carmen and I are still getting to know each other, feeling things out. I think that she knows that I am motivated, dedicated and I am proving to her that I am a coachable athlete.
What I don’t think she knows just yet is how much I am willing to hurt. How much it takes to break me. On race day, how easy it is for me to remember why I am running, who I am racing for and that giving up or giving in would hurt me a whole lot more than any physical pain that the marathon can put on me.
I have been confident in the past, but there has always been a small nagging feeling in the back of my mind wondering if I was really good enough, fit enough, tough enough to race the marathon to our potential.
I’m sure I will have my moments of doubt again this summer at some point after a tough workout or a flat performance. But the important thing is going to be my ability to shake it off, learn from it and keep moving forward. No matter what, just focus on the next task at hand and keep pushing.
That is how winning is done.
That is how we are going to race Big Cottonwood.
Once mile at a time.