Three weeks in

Training works.
— Kathrine Switzer

Here's an update, three weeks after this post: The short version is that things are off to a good start and most importantly, I'm staying motivated. I did all of my scheduled runs and wanted to do more (but didn't, because I am not an idiot. #fitspiration fail I guess.) Even though the first few weeks after a lot of time off pretty much suck, I am excited to see progress.

So far, I've had some unsexy, non-awesome "long runs" of 7 and 8 miles at around 10-minute pace, and a bunch of "easy" runs that felt anything but. I've been plagued with newb issues like side stitches, shin splints, and nausea. The bottoms of my feet are sore. But I also had an awesome, non-depressing speedwork attempt on the treadmill: 6x400 @ ~7:00 pace that didn't even feel very hard, and a decent progression-y type 2x2 workout that ended with a mile at 7:53. I had a great runner's high going and I wanted more, more, more. 

So last week I upped the stakes a little bit: I slapped some money on the table and registered for a fall half and a spring marathon. (Related: I have a serious case of fall marathon envy. And, I am very responsive to the race organizers' favorite sales tactic, "price increases.")

Here's what I've got coming up this fall.

First is the much-loved Medoc 10-miler. It has a cultish following around here and I'm curious to see what all the hype is about. We're camping the night before for the full Medoc experience (and also to avoid the long drive the morning of.) I don't have any goals for this; I just want to finish upright and have a good time running in the woods.

I am really excited to race my first half marathon in over a year and a half. Thinking back to my previous four half marathons, something has gone wrong before each and every one (Hamptons: my ex-boyfriend slammed my toe in the door hours before my race, causing it to swell so much I had a hard time getting my shoe on. Afterward, I peeled off my sock and it was soaked with blood. Manhattan: The race was untimed in an unplowed Central Park during a snowstorm. Brooklyn: Didn't train at all (idk). Wisconsin: Picked up an Achilles injury the month before and took a few zero weeks before risking the race.) 

I am not expecting a miracle here, but maybe I could pull off a PR, considering my current half marathon PR happened in the middle of my last marathon. In any case, the course is known for being hilly and tough so I'm really excited for that, and for the chance to run through downtown Raleigh.

And the big one!! The Tobacco Road Marathon on March 15. As is my style, as soon as I clicked "register" I was plagued with worries: the weather; whether the crushed gravel will feel loose under my feet, which I hate; the long gradual inclines which can sometimes be more tiring than regular hills; lack of spectators, etc.... but these are just my normal, second-guessing-myself nerves.

Tobacco Road is my hometown marathon and I want to support it, and because it's a flat, fast race with a large percentage of Boston Qualifiers. I also like that it's about 18 weeks after my fall half marathon, so I can jump right from my fall race into training for my spring race without a long structureless period of time when I'm supposed to keep running but I'm not technically training for anything. 

Half marathon training plan & strategy to come!

Reboot

Some things have happened this summer. We spent a month traveling. We got engaged (whoops, didn't mention it here)! I was promoted! And we started house shopping. And that's just the big stuff.

All summer I toyed with the idea of a fall marathon, but finally acknowledged that my window for getting in a solid training cycle had shut.  I hadn't put in the work and I hate scrambling at the last minute, knowing I'm going to half-ass it. So I'm going to do the chill thing instead: I scrapped my 12-week, zero-to-26.2 marathon plan (really? what was I thinking?) and made a new one for a mid-March marathon (probably Tobacco Road), with a proper base-building period from now to November. 

The next step was to take an inventory to see what I'm working with.

Fortunately, last night was the first event for a local track night that may or may not become a more regular thing (fingers crossed). Two bucks got me an entry for all of the events I could race, plus all of the blue Gatorade I could drink. I ran the mile (to get a baseline speed check) and the 400m (for fun). My mile time was 7:13 and I was running at the about-to-barf threshold, so, yeah...I have a lot of work to do. It's refreshing to face the facts and quantify what I knew in my heart was true: I have lost a lot of running fitness. I hope this track night becomes a regular thing so I can try it again and see some progress.

I'm in there! Purple shorts

I'm in there! Purple shorts

My 400m time was 1:24 and I had a little kick at the end. It seemed fast to me, but I guess that's because normally when I run 400s I'm doing a bunch of repeats, and they're usually at 5k pace. It was fun!

So I have a training plan and I know what my baseline is. Now it's time to do work. I love the ideas/planning stage but I get bored with the follow-through -- something running has helped me come to see about myself. I'm working on it, but nowhere in my life are the consequences of this more evident than in running. Anyway, I'm starting to veer into high-pressure, "my ability to get in a run everyday is a reflection of my moral rightness as a person" territory, which is its own brand of weird, self-defeating talk.

What can I do in the meantime to keep this ship on course? All the stuff everyone always talks about, I guess:

  • Register for races to break up the time into smaller goals: I'm definitely doing the Medoc 10-miler in October, and probably also a half marathon if I can find one that won't break the bank. 
  • Bribes: Running gear, fancy socks, and other little running treats.
  • Boiling the frog: I already feel better now that I feel I have more time. My training plan has reasonable weekly workouts and mileage I can see myself actually meeting. By the time things heat up I'll be back in the habit again. I hope. 

Okay, so I'll check back in here in a while to see how things are going. I won't start weekly recaps until things get interesting. In the meantime, you can follow me on dailymile