Since that entry, written at the tail end of February, much has transpired and here I am cruising through Taper Town with my most intense month of training behind me. After that bad run, I was very anxious about how March was going to go and thankfully, 75% of it turned out to be fine. The other 25% was the week after the no good long run, during which I felt exhausted, sore, and completely sluggish. BFF Steve and I chalked it up to a bout with over training syndrome; after all, I had just run my highest volume mileage week in more than a year.
[Never mind that my highest mileage week in a year was a measly 32 miles...]
Taking it easy for a few days and trading roads for trails for my long run the next week seemed to do the trick for my body, but I had still had to work to convince my mind that I really could pull off the rest of the training. Mother nature helped out a little when she got the memo that it was in fact still winter/early spring and NOT early summer. Cooler temps helped immensely as I ticked my way through March, building a bit of confidence with each successful run.
Before I knew it, I was facing down the biggest week of training: a Yasso Test on March 20th; 10 miles on March 22nd, and my one and only 20 miler on March 25. Back when I made my plan, I remember filling in this week and feeling like it was going to be impossible to execute. At the time (waaaaay back in January), I was doing 20 mile weeks and that was hard enough.
[That waaaaaay back thing was sarcasm, by the way]
I tried really hard to weasel my way out of the Yasso test. I was afraid to do it because I had just had a great long run that had done much to restore my confidence in my ability to successfully complete a marathon and the last thing that I wanted to happen was to follow it with a big fat fail of a Yasso test. As every runner knows, the physical aspect of the sport (while difficult) is the easier thing to build up and the real test is whether you can train your brain into believing you can achieve what you need to.
Kit, however, would not allow me to weasel out of the Yasso. I begrudgingly met him at the track on Monday morning.
[If you don't care about the technicalities of running, skip this next part you'll be really bored. It's safe again after the picture.]
If you're not familiar with the Yasso Test, here's a really basic primer. It is named after the Official Mayor of Running, Bart Yasso, whom I've had the pleasure of running and post-run breakfasting with multiple times. He had a habit of running 800s and discovered a pattern that his 800 lap time and his marathon finish time correlated almost exactly; the Yasso Test thus became a marathon finish time predictor.
Here is how it works. Let's say you have a goal of running a 3 hour, 45 minute marathon (3:45). To test whether you are physically prepared, your goal with the Yasso is to complete a track work out that consists of 10 - 800 meter intervals complete in 3 minutes, 45 seconds each, with a rest period of similar duration between each. So:
Mile warm up
800m in 3:45
Recovery jog for 3:45
800m in 3:45
Recovery jog for 3:45
[repeat until you've done it ten times]
It sounds complicated, but it isn't really.
It doesn't sound very difficult to execute either. For the first few laps, it feels pretty reasonable indeed. The pace is usually slower than speed work and thus you are fooled into thinking that the Yasso Test is easy as pie. But by the time you get to the 8th, 9th, 10th 800, you realize it is no joke.
Though I haven't said it "on the record" before, my goal for Boston is to run a 3 hour, 45 minute marathon. Initially I just wanted to come in under four hours, but based on the paces I have been able to keep during long runs, the 3:45 felt like it fell pretty easily within the realm of possibility. Therefore, I needed to run each of my 800s in 3 minutes, 45 seconds. It felt daunting and impossible but as it turns out, I'm in much better shape than I thought...
Instead of being the confidence basher that I feared, the Yasso turned out to be a huge boost, showing that I'm apparently capable of maybe even a 3 hour, 35 minute marathon. I could hardly believe it.
The Yasso was followed by a really glorious, and more conservatively paced, 10 miler on Wednesday - which also happened to be my birthday. Kit and I did a point to point route that covered pretty much all of our favorite places: Nickel Bridge, Riverside Drive, Belle Isle, Canal Walk, Flood Wall, and new favorite place, the Tyler Potterfield "T-Pot" Memorial Bridge.
I wish I could say that my 20 mile long run was awesome and that I felt fantastic but I didn't. It wasn't as bad as the no good horrible run, but it wasn't great. The last four miles were a real slog; my left adductors were really just done with me starting at mile 16, which made my left knee start to hurt as my gait suffered through loss of control of those left thigh muscles. The left side continued to bother me and on the following Monday, for the first time during this training cycle, I opted to not do my run. With the real work behind me and a slightly wonky knee going on, it wasn't worth the risk to insist on completing those 8 miles. So I didn't. I'm slightly perturbed about it, as I had been perfectly on track until that point, but better safe than sorry. I've worked far too hard to risk it all by being stubborn now.
Just 11 days away now, it still seems completely surreal that I am going to be running the Boston Marathon. Not only because it is Boston, but because 6 months ago, I could hardly complete 30 minutes of run/walk. 9 months ago, I was on crutches and crying multiple times a week out of frustration, pain, and fear that I would never run again.
That I've come so far in so little time is mind-blowing to me. When this started, my only goal was to get to the finish line on my own two feet, and to hopefully not have to walk any part of the marathon. I never imagined that I would feel confident enough to say that I think I can run a 3:45 in Boston. Truly, I believe I could run a 3:35 an re-qualify, but I also think that would be very painful and not fun. I would rather enjoy this experience so I am not aiming for that goal.
I am now allowing myself to get excited about this. I have been holding back because the specter of injury haunted me throughout the training cycle. It felt like this could all be taken away at any second, without rhyme or reason, just like in May.
It could still be... I am become that crazy, 2 weeks out from a marathon, paranoid runner who hand washes constantly to avoid illness, who won't go on the trails for fear of turning an ankle, who won't go for a bike ride for fear of cars/falling off, who won't walk around shoeless in the dark for fear of stubbing and breaking a toe.
[And I might be already obsessively checking the weather forecast, multiple times a day, through multiple weather services. Right now the weather looks spectacular, by the way. Sunday night low of 40, partly cloudy and high of 54 on race day.]
So while being excessively careful, I am also plotting how we will spend the time in Boston, made pre-race dinner reservations, and lined up entertainment/touristing. I ordered my race day top (Boston Blue of course), and even a new pair of run sunglasses because I decided I did not want my current pair to be documented for all time in my Boston debut photographs. I've read through my passport and race day guide and started my race-day gear pile.
|Nope, I wasn't AT ALL excited on the day my passport and guide finally arrived.|
I'm trying to suppress talk of the race in every day conversation. I don't speak of it unless someone else brings it up (except in the case of Husband and Kit. Sorry guys...). Obviously this is a big deal for me but not so much for everyone else in my life.
That being said, I probably will post a few more thoughts that I want to get out before I go; in particular, how this training cycle was different than all the others and the full story on the TENEX surgery that I had and what the recovery was truly like from the standpoint of an active person/athlete. Unfortunately, injury - and in particular plantar fasciitis- is such a common experience for runners that I want to share my experience in hopes of helping others who are suffering from it and trying to make decisions about treatment and understand what recovery can look like.