I remember when I first decided to run a marathon. I’d successfully completed two half marathons (I use the term loosely), a handful of road races, and I was just starting to immerse myself in the world of running on Twitter and through blogs. I was floored by the number of marathoners I was now following, and felt like I needed to be a part of that exclusive club… despite the fact that after finishing my first half marathon, I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to do it again.
My training for my first marathon, Philadelphia 2011, was less than stellar. I knocked out a 14 and 16 mile long run early in the summer, but quickly lost my enthusiasm. I managed to get through one 18 miler that was a huge struggle, and that was the extent of my distance training. Not to mention the miles I logged during the week leading up to my mostly failed long runs weren’t great either. I found myself falling into the trap where I’d worry so much about the upcoming long run and needing to rest my legs, that I’d only run a few miles during the week. It wasn’t good! I was really worried when it came time to race, but I knew to start super slow and just do the best that I could. I finished in 4:37, which considering my lack of training, wasn’t too bad.
Logically I ran the Disney World Marathon only a month and a half later as part of the Goofy Challenge, and finished in just under 5 hours [I ran a half marathon the day before – another genius move]. I swore to myself that things would be different when training for Chicago 2012, but they weren’t. Again, I didn’t run more than 18 miles for a training run, and my weekly mileage was rather paltry. Naturally I ran into super tight hips around mile 18 and by mile 20 could barely pick up my leg from knee pain. After hobbling about a mile, I was able to run the last 5ish miles and finished in 4:26. I followed this marathon up with another Goofy Challenge, and ran the marathon in 4:27 (with 4 bathroom stops).
By this point, I realized it was time to stop signing up for marathons if I wasn’t going to actually train for them. I wasn’t doing myself or anyone else any favors by half-assing my way through training. I had grand plans of running Richmond 2013 and crushing my marathon PR, but some weird ankle and foot issues in the beginning of the summer knocked that out for me. I thought about maybe doing a spring marathon instead, but after the Polar Vortex winter we had, I’m glad I didn’t! So instead I spent the winter training for a half marathon PR, which I achieved (big time) this past Saturday!
Of course after Saturday’s extremely successful race, everyone has been asking me what’s next. And at first, I wasn’t really sure. After my lack-luster marathon training attempts, I started to think that maybe I’m just not a marathon runner… and that’s okay. However, I’m not okay with quitting the marathon with a PR of 4:26. I know I can do better. According to race predictor calculators, I should be able to run nearly an hour faster. While I think that may be a little overzealous, I do want to give the marathon another shot; I think I owe it to myself (and to the marathon!).
So I’ve decided I’ll be running the Philadelphia Marathon this year, on November 23rd. I’m looking forward to working on my speed and strength the rest of the spring and early summer and knocking out some speedy short races. And then from there it’ll be time buckle down and marathon train like everyone else does; high mileage, weekly long runs, and proper cross-training. I’m nervous, but also excited to see what I can do with a real training plan. I don’t have any specific time goals just yet, but I have some lose ideas of what I think I’m capable of running!
Do you have fall marathon plans?