I've been doing marathons and triathlons for several years now. I always have a finish time in mind, but that is more of a calculation than a time goal. I have always trained to finish and feel good. I train for the distance, not for a specific pace.
Last year, I did 4 stand alone marathons. My times increased for the first three, then dropped on the last (it was the end of the season and an indication that I needed an offseason!) My times were 5:17, 5:10 and 5:04.
Over the winter, I did some training with Trevor for his fight. I would go with him to the gym and do the stair machine. This really helped me work on my leg speed. I found that my running pace picked up. That got me thinking....what if I set a time goal and actually trained for it? What would happen?
These thoughts brought on a ton of anxiety. If your only goal is to finish, most of the time you will achieve that. If you have a specific goal, there's a chance you won't achieve it. That scares me.
Well, I decided that this would be the year of doing it better. I registered for the Eugene Marathon on May 1st and started trianing. I had been hearing good things about a training program from a book called Run Less, Run Faster. This plan includes three runs per week. Speed work, tempo training and long runs (all the long runs are over 13 miles). I decided I would give it a shot. I bought my first Garmin GPS heartrate monitor - which is necessary to track pace.
The plan calculates your finish time based on shorter distance runs. I marked in the book where I thought I would fall. Then, I went out and did a 10k race and realized that my time was actually faster than I had marked. That scared me even more.
The 16 week training has been the most difficult I have even done. I am used to running just to run. This has required much more focus and effort. My speed work is very challenging and the tempo runs push my limits. The long runs have been the best for me because I believe that endurance in my strength.
I missed a few workouts due to injury or illness, but I completed every other one of the workouts at the pace and time prescribed by the plan. I love a plan and when I have a plan, I will stick to it. I have had a lot of anxiety as I did these workouts. I remember the first speed training day, I was to run an 8 minute mile. I was seriously SCARED that I wouldn't be able to do it. Then I realized that this challenge should be fun, otherwise why do it? I have to remind myself of that often!!
I think the speed training has been the hardest. There is one part of it that I really look forward to. I do my speed work at a path that goes around a local elementary school. Its about 2 miles to get there and then the path is about a half a mile around. Every time I am there, an old Asian man is walking the path. When I first run past him, he waves at me. Every other time I pass him, he either claps or he makes the sound of the wind "woosh". It makes me smile every time and it also makes me want to cry. I don't know him and he has no idea how much he encourages me. He is very sweet. Just out for a walk!!
So in less than two weeks - on May 1st - I will run the Eugene Marathon. My time goal is 4:22. That is 42 minutes faster than my previous best time. This is a very lofty goal. I plan to average 9:57 miles, my previous marathons have been about 12 minute miles.
I believe I can do it, I envision doing it and I am so nervous about doing it!!! This will be the first marathon I have started by myself in a long time. Trevor is usually at the start line with me. This time, he will be on his bike, riding around the route to be my #1 cheerleader.
I look forward to the challenge and to making this year one of new personal bests!!