Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How to Almost Qualify for Boston

This past Sunday was the Vermont City Marathon.  I am very pleased to start this report by saying I dropped 10 minutes off my personal best.  A time I had been stuck at for 3 straight marathons despite trying different training methods, different eating habits, etc.

I am a little less pleased to report that I missed qualifying for Boston by 28 seconds.  And no, I'm not upset, because honestly, I never thought I could be close this year, I barely even looked at my watch.

However, I guess what was missing from my training was the jogging stroller because that is all I changed.  My training this cycle was focused around my son.  My 22 month old running partner that loves running and racing almost as much as I do is most definitely the reason I was able to improve my time.

I never took much time off of running to have Gregory.  I ran right up until 2 days before he was born and returned to running the minute I was told I could (at 5 weeks and 6 days).  I slowly built up my mileage but never had a real goal race in mind.  Eventually each weekend I was running at least a 15 miler and sometimes up  to 20.  I decided that it was time to sign up for a marathon again.

Vermont City is my favorite marathon.  I went to school in Burlington and fell in love with running while I was there.  Most of the race takes place on my old stomping grounds.  We still have friends in the area and Burlington just rocks.  I knew Vermont City was where I wanted to make a marathon comeback.  However, I really didn't care about time.  Every long run was with Gregory (he made it up to 22 miles) and I only used my watch to calculate distance. He's the boss on our runs.  He says "dis way" and we go dat way.  He wants to stop at the "animal park" and usually we stop at the animal park. And don't worry, if he's not in the mood for a run, he either stays with my mom (or husband, but he's usually at work) or we don't go.  Some runs he'll do half and then I'll finish the other half without him.  Usually though, if we make sure to stop to watch or follow some trucks and make a pit stop to blow bubbles and play in the sand and he's thrilled to be outside running.  So what I'm getting at, is that though I put the miles in this cycle, I really didn't work on speed, intervals, tempo runs, or track work.  I ran to share it with my son and to keep us both outside through a crummy winter.  I didn't track my splits or worry about my pace.  And yet, I dropped 10 minutes and ran a 3:35.28 marathon.  When the BAA changed it's standards from 3:40 to 3:35, my heart sank.  I thought 3:3? would be out of my reach and yet...all it took was pushing a jogging stroller.

My overall training looked something like this: 12 weeks, 480.6 miles, 393.1 pushing Gregory

I think the biggest advantage was endurance.  Every marathon I've done in the past, the pace for my last 6 miles fell dramatically.  This time, I negative split it -- again, something I never thought I could do!

Next up?  Well now I have to see if I really can qualify for Boston, so I've got my eye on Hartford for the fall.  I don't know how having the pressure of being so close will effect me, but I do know that I'm in for a fun summer of long runs, park pit stops, and singing "Ba Ba Black sheep" down the bike path with my favorite running partner.