Reflections on my Boston training

First, important thoughts this morning: should I be more proud of myself for getting out of bed at 6am (ok I snoozed/read on my phone til 6:15) and going to the pool even though I’m not even registered for a triathlon right now OR for resisting the baked goods at Starbucks while getting my post-swim coffee? I’m leaning toward the getting out of bed, mostly because those baked goods are never quite as good as I hope they’ll be.

Anyway, my actual performance at Boston (4:22:11) was not my best (which was 3:36:40 to qualify) but also not my worst (that title goes to my stellar 4:49 at a marathon in Florence, Italy while studying abroad and suffering from a bizarre tailbone issue that made sitting, running, walking, and sleeping all uncomfortable). However, my attitude the entire race was positive – I just kept reminding myself how hard I’d worked to get there and how I just wanted to enjoy the race, and I made a deal with myself that if I finished this marathon, I’d never have to do another one (we’ll see how long that lasts…). There were almost always tons of spectators, and the 26.2 miles really did pass pretty quickly, even once I was stopping to stretch and walk.

I didn’t really have any time goals because my training plan was purely intended to be just enough to get me across the finish line, but I admit I had hoped (assumed?) I’d finish under 4 hours. Whoops. Has anyone mentioned that the course is full of rolling hills? My highest mileage week was 34 miles (and I did zero hill work), compared to my training when I qualified where I went over 50 miles a week a few times. Many faster but “recreational” marathoners probably top 60 miles a week during marathon training, and some get up to 100. To put it even more clearly, my highest volume in a week was only 8 miles longer than the race. I ran 3 days a week, swam once a week, and had at one point planned to do a bicycle trainer ride once a week but I am not a huge fan of the trainer, so I didn’t. I don’t regret it, though I’m sure those rides would’ve helped.

So what did I learn from my training? Well, I achieved my number one super high priority goal of crossing the Boston Marathon finish line without further injuring myself (thankfully my IT band didn’t bother me AT ALL the entire race), so I’m pleased. Of course all the events that happened immediately after I finished also make it hard to be too concerned with my time anyway, but in the 2 minutes between finishing and the first explosion, I was satisfied with my performance, and I’m holding onto that. But I learned that I can’t race a marathon very well on a peak mileage of 34 miles, unless I were doing some really great cross-training (and though I tell myself I was… I wasn’t). I’m pretty sure I could’ve guessed that though. I’m not so sure what else I learned, aside from just enjoying more relaxed training. I had some great long runs, I’ve hopefully moved on from my injuries, I figured out some strength training that works for me, and I developed a habit of going to a local run club on Wednesday nights.

Eric has strongly (and wisely) suggested that I not register for any more marathons until I’m confident I can fully to commit to a training cycle (instead of holding back due to injury). Luckily I’ve got some other goals to focus on in 2013…

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