Helloooooo, September. How’d you creep up on us so fast? While I’m pretty bummed tomorrow marks the unofficial end of summer, I do love fall in New York City and can’t wait for slightly cooler and less humid temperatures for running.
The start of September also means that in just one week, I’ll be running a marathon. Gulp. After absolutely lovingggg Boston 2012 (aka the ‘speed can kill’ heat race), I knew I couldn’t wait to get back for 2014. But then life, work, injuries and accidents got in the way of running other marathons, which meant I haven’t run a race of any type since Boston/Big Sur in April 2012 and thus my qualifying times are all outdated. While Boston registration remained open through the Chicago Marathon last year, I am fairly confident that won’t be the case this year since everyone and their mom seems to want to do Boston this year given last year’s events.
So, I knew I couldn’t wait until Chicago to get my time, and that I should start searching for early September marathons to seek out a new BQ time before registration opens. Back in April, I stumbled upon the Lehigh Valley VIA Marathon and decided it fit the bill perfectly: runner-friendly fast course, relatively minimal travel, and perfect timing on September 8th. I quickly registered and hoped I wouldn’t regret the impulsive decision laster.
My goal for the race is to get a comfortable BQ time between 3:20 and 3:25, which is at least 17+ minutes slower than my PR and should normally not be a big deal (for me.) But after the bike accident, I was pretty slow to return to running and really started doubting whether or not a 7:40-7:50 pace was even doable for 26.2 miles. While I was only able to run 1 mile at the end of May, I’ve seen major progression over the last few weeks especially and feel really, really good about the race!
I’m trying to treat it as a uptempo long run (NOT RACE), with the goal of slightly negative splits and feeling smooth and comfortable, holding myself back from the impulse to push the pace. I know I might get carried away a bit, but will remind myself I just need ANY time in that window and there is no point in going any faster. I just want to check the BQ box and then focus on a better time at Chicago.
Running lately has been going pretty well, with a few confidence boosting runs and workouts along the way. I did 19.5 miles last weekend, since I was too lazy to go 20, and ran around nearly the entire island of Manhattan.
We had intended to make it a slightly faster paced long run with a faster-ish finish, and I felt awesome the entire time. We started around 8:00 pace per usual, and then brought it down to 7:45s and 7:30s and under towards the end. We averaged around 7:45 pace for the whole run, meaning adding on another 6+ miles should be no big deal next weekend, right?
And then this past Thursday, we did one of my favorite tempo workouts for marathon training– a continuous 8 miler with the first 4 mile loop at marathon pace and the second loop at half-marathon pace.
In my experience with this, everyone always ends up going way faster than their actual marathon pace for the first loop. I knew I wanted to start conservatively and feel good at the end, so aimed around/under 7:00 pace for the first 4 and hoped I could hang onto the group for the end.
The good thing about doing these consistent workouts is being able to compare to years prior. I was pretty excited when I realized I had also averaged 6:45 pace for this workout before NYC ’11. And I was in kick ass shape when I did this before Boston ’12, averaging 6:32 pace and feeling really relaxed. Nonetheless, it was a huge confidence booster and testament to the body’s amazing ability to make fitness gains. Back in July, I could barely hold a 2 mile tempo at this pace and wanted to die.
So, fingers crossed for next weekend! My right shin started feeling a little funky after Thursday, but otherwise no aches or pains. I feel good but need to respect that 26.2 miles is a LONG way and I’m probably delusional for thinking it’ll be a casual Sunday morning yog. BQ, here I come… ready or not.
Happy Labor Day weekend, all!