This morning I had a GREAT run! I organized a group run for the running club I started, and I had 3 mile, 6 mile and 10 mile routes planned. The weather was beautiful (40 degrees and bright sunshine) and we had a decent turnout. I ran the 10 mile route and my legs felt so, so good. It was just a happy run all the way around.
Seven weeks from today I will be running the Utah Valley Marathon. I had registered for this race before I ran Boston and was excited for it, but now I am even more excited to have this race coming up. I will have one more week of recovery, than four weeks of serious training, then a two-week taper. I am calling it my redemption race.
I (of course) have been thinking a lot about the Boston Marathon. It seems strange that it was only five days ago. I have had a lot of emotions about the race, but have been trying to be objective too. I decided to make a list of things that I did right in training for Boston and in running Boston, and a list of things I could have done better. (Much of this is for myself, to help me moving forward, although maybe it will help some of you reading too).
Things I did right training for Boston -
- Mileage. I really think I found my sweet spot with mileage. I had two months of over 300 miles and three weeks of over 85 miles. I did all of that and stayed free from injury and never felt burnt out or worn out, and had plenty of energy for the rest of life (as long as that "life" happened before 9pm). I think all of those miles truly helped me to become stronger, faster, and better overall as a runner. I do think that since I handled 85 miles in a week so well that I could push this higher in the future. If I do, it will be slowly and carefully (which is how I have built my mileage from the beginning).
- Training. Overall I am really happy with the training I did leading up to Boston. Looking back there are a few things I would change/do differently, but overall I think that I had a good mix of easy runs, speed work, tempo runs, long runs, and some very challenging workouts. I was super consistent - I literally did not miss a single training run. I enjoyed the training and had fun with it, and stayed motivated.
- Taper. This is the first time I went into a race feeling like I had tapered perfectly for me. In the past I have felt like I have over-tapered and under-tapered. I think that for me, a two-week taper with significantly decreased mileage but continued intensity was perfect. Multiple runs with marathon pace miles in them also were a confidence booster. I went into Boston feeling rested but fresh, and my body and legs felt strong and ready to run.
- Nutrition. I think I did a really good job eating/fueling throughout my training. I did not gain any weight, and did even lose a couple of pounds, while still always feeling like I had plenty of energy. I have really been focusing on putting good and healthy foods into my body and I can feel the difference.
- I ran a lot of hills. If you are running a flat race then you can get away with avoiding hills in your training, but if you are running Boston or another hilly course, then to be prepared you really need to incorporate hills into your training. I ran a lot of uphills and downhills (especially when I was tired) and I think that helped a lot.
- Rest. With my early daily wake up time (usually 4:15am) I don't get tons of hours of sleep at night (usually six hours) but I have been doing a good job of finding time to lay down during the day and put my legs up regularly. Since I work on a lap top, sometimes I even work from the couch, and I am usually laying down with the big kids in our front room (once the little kids are in bed) each night by 8pm or so. I have been really trying to take care of my body, and getting enough rest is important.
- Balance. Training is a big part of my life, but I never felt like my running took up too much time in my day, or too much of my energy or anything else. I don't feel like Josh or the kids ever lacked any of my time and attention because of my training. I feel like I was able to keep things pretty well balanced. :)
- Avoiding injury. I did my strength and core training routines religiously. I did some dynamic warm-up moves before every run, and stretched and used my foam roller or "stick" after every run. I took ice baths after my long runs and I really tried to listen to my body and give it the TLC it needs running all these miles. I got to Boston as fit and healthy as I possibly could have.
Things I did right running the Boston Marathon -
- I got seven hours of sleep the night before and good nights of sleep for most of the week before.
- I was in a great place mentally on race morning. I didn't panic about the heat. I woke up Monday morning very calm and relaxed. I knew it was going to be hot. I knew it was likely going to be a tough day. But I did not stress out. I did not get worried or worked up. I did not get upset. I did not get over-excited or emotional about being at the Boston Marathon. I really was in a great mindset. On race morning, even at the starting line, I was happy, relaxed, calm, confident, and resolved to do the best I could with the conditions I had.
- I did not go out too fast. It would have been very easy to take off down the hills of those first four miles. Many people did (and many with the line of thought that it was best to go as fast as you could while it was downhill and it was "cooler"). At times I felt myself starting to get too fast, and I pulled the pace back and stayed right at my goal pace.
- I hydrated/fueled well. I drank my Hammer Perpetuem, water and Gatorade. Despite a very sick stomach, high temps, and the blazing sun, I did not dehydrate, I did not get any leg cramps, and I took in adequate calories.
- I stayed as cool as possible. I took advantage of every water stop, every hose, every sprinkler, every kid with a water gun, every spectator offering water (or anything wet/cold). Water went over my head, on the back of neck, and down my front as often as possible. The sponge (and bags of ice) Rick gave me helped a lot too. The cooling effect never lasted long, but I think it really helped prevent overheating/heat stroke.
- I didn't quit. Somewhere in the third (or fourth? or fifth?) portapotty, a part of me wanted to just say "oh screw it" and quit. It was miserable, I felt horrible, and my goal was long gone. But I am not a quitter. And I kept fighting and never gave up.
- I maintained my form. Despite being incredibly hot, tired, and worn out, (as witnessed by friends, coach, family, and photos) I never lost my fore-foot strike, I continued to pick my feet up (no shuffle), and I was able to maintain my form pretty dang well.
Things I could have done better -
- I should have had a cold bottle of Perpetuem waiting for me with someone on the course. I didn't, because I didn't think I would need it. I did need it, and I ended up drinking Gatorade out of necessity, and that added to my stomach issues. I should have planned a little better and had that ready just in case.
- More sunblock. More Aquafor/Bodyglide. Enough said.
- I should have thought more positive thoughts when things got tough. It was difficult to not feel discouraged and to not think negatively (or about how hard it was) when I felt so sick and people were suffering and going down all around, but I should have used a mantra and some positive self-talk to fight that. I am sure that would have helped some.
- I should have pushed myself harder. The big blinking road signs along the course said, "Slow Your Pace. Walk. High Heat Advisory." I know that realistically I had to slow my pace and adjust my goals under the conditions and that everyone's times were slower, but I hate to make excuses, and I do think that I could have done better. Do I think I could have run sub 3:15 in Boston on Monday in those temps? No. But being honest, I do think I could have done better than I did. I let myself walk too long several times, I quit looking at my Garmin, and I feel like I sort of fell apart in the sun. I usually pride myself on my mental strength, and I don't think I was as strong as I should have been or pushed as hard as I could have.
(And please, I am not writing this so everyone will comment and tell me I did a great job or was tough or anything like that). Writing is how I best process my feelings/emotions/thoughts and this is me processing honestly.
I was feeling very disappointed and discouraged at first, but I realized that that will not help me moving forward. (Plus, I am an optimist and happy person and never stay "down" for long). I want to learn from the experience, so I can continue doing/repeat the things that I did well, and improve on the things that I could have done better. I did learn that despite what I thought previously, I am NOT a wimp in the heat, and I CAN run a marathon in even the most miserable of temperatures. :)
I know this is not an easy sport and that there will be setbacks and tough races, and I want those experiences to make me a stronger, tougher, and better runner/marathoner, physically and mentally. I know I am in shape right now to run a sub 3:15 marathon. I know that I am mentally strong. I know that I will continue to improve with hard work, dedication, and the love and support of Josh and my family and friends. I know that I am capable of achieving my goals and dreams. I know that it won't be easy. I know that the Boston Marathon 2012 will be an experience that I learn and grow from, and I am so grateful for it.
I am very, very grateful for the wonderful trip that I had, all of the incredible experiences I had, the time I had with people I love, the amazing people that I met and spent time with, and the race that challenged me in new ways and ultimately will make me a better and stronger runner.
This morning's run was a fresh start. I let go of the last bit of disappointment and discouragement, and am moving forward with confidence, strength, joy, gratitude, determination, and optimism.