Dates are important to people. We connect a lot of meaning to important dates in our lives. Birthdays, anniversaries, losing loved ones, medical diagnosis, triumph over tragedy… some dates we celebrate with smiles, and others with tears. Today is one of those days. April 9th. But I’ll get to that part in a little bit…
I am training for a Half Marathon. I’ve done 8 half marathons (and countless other races, relays, and even a few triathlons). This half marathon is different. I have a goal. A big goal. One that, just a few short months ago, seemed insurmountable. Unreasonable. Un REACHable. Until now. Until today. April 9th.
On January 28th, 2013, I began following my first Training Plan for the Eugene Half Marathon. It’s a 13 week program from Train Like A Mother. I’m a big
stalker fan of the Another Mother Runner authors, I follow their Facebook page, and have been to a few of the book readings and
get-togethers here in Portland, as one of the authors lives here. I had developed a nice base of miles, and
felt like taking on the “Own It” plan would be a good fit. I had a big goal, after all. At the time, I just wanted another PR. Maybe even shed a few more minutes off of my
previous best of 1:56:36. At least, that’s
what I would say out loud. “I’ll be
happy with 1:53.” But in my head, I knew
what I really wanted. And those first
two weeks on the plan were a shock to the system. No workout was tremendously hard, but when I
was asked to push my pace, I just didn’t feel like I had it in me. I couldn’t reach down and find that extra
something I needed. I had done the math
about 1,000 times. I knew what pace I
would need to average for 13.1 miles if I wanted to achieve my REAL goal. My silent goal. And I couldn’t even push the pace of the goal
I kept saying I wanted. I was trying to convince myself that I didn’t
really have it in me to be a faster runner.
Maybe I had capped out?
I plugged along with the plan. Honestly, I really really enjoyed following a training plan! I loved having my workouts laid out for me. I knew exactly what I needed to do, and I trusted that following this plan would eventually get me to where I wanted to be. It mixed easy runs, tempo work, intervals, hill repeats, and long long long mileage runs on the weekend, with sections of miles where you were to push race pace. This was new to me. Normally, I just picked a number and ran that many miles, and checked it off. I quit my swim class after a while, because it just got to be too much. I wanted to focus on running. My body was keeping up, so I figured I would just go with it and see what happens.
The plan capped out in mileage on week 9, with a 15 mile run. Leading up to this week, I had been doing double digit weekend runs for 8 weeks. 15 miles was the longest run I had ever done, AND I was supposed to push race pace for 6 of those miles. Um, whuck?! My BRF, Amy, and I headed down to my favorite place in Portland to run: the waterfront loop. She needed to do her long run (10 miles!), so we planned to do the loop, and then I would head back out for the last 5 miles on my own. It was a beautiful, glorious spring day in Portland. And being on the waterfront made it more beautiful. So many people out enjoying the day. Cherry tree blossoms falling like snow (aaachooo!), and lots of friendly waves.
We stopped to take pics, fuel, drink plenty of water. I pushed the pace hard for my last 6 miles, and my last mile was close to race pace! That run pretty much wiped me out for a week. If you listen to the AMR podcasts, a recent discussion they had was with the woman who developed their training plans. Sarah asked her MY question, which was “My friends all want to know why on earth I am running such high mileage when I’m just training for a half?” Her answer: on the Own It plan, your goal is usually time related, and not just about crossing the finish line. When you run 13, 14, 15 miles during your training, you aren’t concerned anymore about weather or not you CAN do it. You already know you CAN. Instead, you can focus on pushing your pace. Hmmm, sounds about right. I wouldn’t know just how RIGHT she was until the next week.
Like I said, that 15 miler wiped me OUT. I slogged thru my training runs the next week, and even skipped one day! Interestingly enough, the plan backed waaaay off during this recovery week. Almost like she knew we would be wiped out. (She did.) The next Saturday was a 12 miler. Nothing special about it. Just 12 miles. This one I did on my own, I had to fit it in before Andrew’s baseball practice. So I ran my miles around my house in the Bethany area. It ain’t flat around here, folks. When it was all said and done, I looked down at my watch and was shocked at my pace. I had just banged out 12 miles at darn near race pace, and had enough left to kick it in at the end. I felt like a rock star! And the whole time, you know what I was thinking? “12 miles is nothing after that 15 miler!” Yep, those gals know what they’re talking about for sure.
Which brings me to today. Today was what I considered the hardest training run on the plan. Even more difficult that the 15 miler. It was 7 miles, with 5 straight miles at tempo. Now, it took me a while to completely understand what tempo meant. Basically, it’s pushing yourself past your comfort level for longer distances. Uncomfortably hard, is what some will say. About 15-20 seconds faster than your goal race pace. And today, I needed to do that for FIVE MILES. I was nervous. But after my rock star 12 mile run, I knew I could do it. And I wanted to see if I could push my pace a little faster. So I got on the mill, did my warm up, set the pace for 7:47, and found my rhythm. I had 5 miles to think, and a lot of things went through my head during that run. Never once did I think I needed to stop, or that I wouldn’t be able to finish. In fact, I sped up during the last half mile. I thought a lot about the date, and what it was supposed to be and what it had become…
Today, I should have been celebrating my 2nd child’s 7th birthday. 7 years ago, today was the due date of our 2nd pregnancy. I remember the date that I knew we would not be celebrating this birthday. August 14th, 2005. The months following were difficult. I was looking for an outlet for my sadness. I don’t want to dwell on this, because this date has come to mean so much more to me over the years. It is the day I became a runner. The funny part is, I didn’t actually run at all on that date. I had signed up to run the Race for the Roses on April 9th, 2006. That was supposed to be my due date. During my training, I became pregnant with Lauren. Lauren, my light, my love, my special girl. God had a plan for our family. And Lauren was a part of that plan. Good things come to those who wait.
And all of the sudden, my five miles were up. I had done it. I had pushed myself faster and farther than I thought I ever could a few short months ago. I am more confident in myself, I am stronger, and I am faster. And my goal for Eugene is 1:48. I am so excited for that weekend. So many people I know are going down there to tackle the half and the FULL marathon. Some hoping to BQ for the first time! I’m looking forward to spending time with my girlfriends that I don’t get to see nearly enough anymore. I don’t know how I will feel on race day. If I don’t make my time goal, I can still be so proud of my training and hard work. I know now that I am capable of that time. I just need to go get it.
And then head for 26.2…