A few of my athlete friends told me in the weeks leading up to Ironman Texas that after that race, you would never be the same again.
That after Ironman, I was going to feel different, look at challenges differently, have a shift in focus, refined clarity.
After 2 months of enjoying some downtime in June and July, running when I felt like it, riding the bike a bit, a couple of easy swims I have reached that point.
What I have realized is that at the end of the day, I’m a marathoner.
I might not necessarily be a great one. And in fact, there is strong evidence that I am a much better middle distance runner (10K, 10M, half-marathon), but at the end of the day, that is who I am.
With the four-year anniversary of us losing Dom staring me in the face – (8/15/10 – RIP) – I decided that I wanted to get back to basics, set aside the distractions of being a part-time triathlete/Ironman and get ready to train in a serious way for this year’s hometown Austin Marathon.
Specificity and consistency are the two things that build a strong runner in my view. It has always been that way for me. When I have been able to stay injury free and stick to my schedule of Monday off, Tuesday Easy, Wednesday Hard, Thursday Easy, Friday off, Saturday Quality, Sunday Long I have been a very dangerous runner on race day.
So we’re going to go back into the shop for the rest of August and September. Get back to our 5 run day, 2 off day schedule and build our base back to the point where we are bullet-proof heading into the 18 week training cycle for Austin.
I haven’t worn my watch all week on my runs and I am not going to put it on until after Labor Day. I’m running entirely by feel, covering my known routes where I do not need to track each individual mile. I’ve worn ruts in the streets and trails around our home in Austin. I know exactly which routes are 5 miles, 6.2 miles, 8.3 miles, 10, 12 and 16. The combination of those routes provides me with every single distance necessary to complete marathon training from 10 kilometer threshold runs, 8 mile easy days, mid-week medium-long runs and Sunday long days all the way up to 22 miles.
I spent the last few days putting together my training plan and have the 90 workouts aligned in our calendar that will take us from October 14th up to race day on the 15th of February. There are some rather big days sprinkled throughout that cycle and realizing that we are now in our 47th year on the planet, recovery and rest is going to be more critical than ever to staying healthy and toeing the line at the Freescale Marathon 100% ready to rumble. It is going to require the occasional vacation day from work to recover after a hard mid-week threshold workout of 12-14 miles at 6:39 pace, but that is just fine. We’ll make the time.
The question looming out there is can we throw down a best-ever marathon time 8 1/2 years after our first one? It will be 4 years since we ran Austin back in 2011 and a little more than 3 years since we ran our current PR in NYC.
The answer as of today is, I’m not really sure. In the coming months that picture is going to come into focus. I do know this, if we are able to put together a solid cycle, stay healthy and remain determined to put ourselves in the best possible position on race day – the results will be there.
If we get a nice cool morning and no wind, maybe even that elusive sub 3 hour marathon is out there in front of us. If not, can we PR? I’d be pretty darn happy with that. An Austin Marathon course PR which would require a 3:15 flat? That would be fine. A Boston time of sub 3:25:00? Barring a disastrous race, we should be able to throw that down fairly comfortably .
But that’s the thing about going for it in the marathon vs. other race distances. A small miscalculation in a 10K may cost you :30 seconds. In a half-marathon, you may fade late and lose a minute to a minute and a half. The difference between running to your potential in the marathon and finishing :20 minutes behind your goal time is actually razor-thin. Those last 10 kilometers after mile 20 is when the marathon actually begins.
How you get to mile 20 will define your race more than every other variable.
Fitness, health, nutrition, hydration, your mental toughness, course conditions, the weather – it all comes together in a perfect storm on marathon day.
That’s what makes it such a remarkable event. That’s what makes it worth going back to.
That’s what makes me a marathoner.
I know that we have one more great race in us. Time to prove it.