And just like that, we find ourselves less than two weeks away from the Boston Marathon, which is so hard to believe. This will be my fifth marathon and second Boston Marathon, but one that, for me, has much more personal emotion tied to it than last year’s race. Last year was a culmination of 18 months of hard work. It was the finale of this 18 month journey of picking up running, hiring a coach, losing over 25 lbs., and taking running from a casual hobby to a lifestyle. The specialness of last year was even more intensified being the first anniversary of the bombings, and I still feel so lucky to have been part of such a significant day.

This year is completely different.

This year is about a comeback, and I’m not just strictly talking about coming back from injuries. At one point towards the end of last year, my coach said to me, “you haven’t been yourself for quite a long time, and you need to do what’s best for you and get her back.” And he was completely right.

I was gone for a while. I was tired. I was stressed. I got hurt–mentally and physically. I was PR-greedy. I was overzealous. I hated running. I hated a lot of things going on in life. And, slowly, things started to fall apart.

So this training cycle has been about enjoying the process, and getting back to a place where I am happy, confident, healthy, and strong–both inside and out. I’m showing up on that starting line in Hopkinton after a rollercoaster of a year, and I’m so ready to close the book on last year and truly move forward.

The Training
I won’t beat around the bush. Who doesn’t love to hear THE GOAL!!!! THE BELOVED TIME GOAL. What time are you going for?? What pace will you run?!?

HAHA! The good news is that I won’t lie to you, because I really don’t have an answer. I don’t have a time goal, not really. Last year I ran a 14-minute PR and a 4-minute negative split. A 1:36 first half and a 1:32 second half. A 3:08. The course was my bitch and I loved every inch of those Newton hills. I should have won an award for getting the most high-fives along the course, and I’m astonished I had enough energy in the last 10k to sprint down the hills in front of the drunk BC College kids and scream, “GET EFFED UP!!!” (Sorry not sorry. My adrenaline was on an all-time high.) I started training last year with one goal and one goal alone–to break 3:10. And I did. It was a magical day and the best run of my entire life.

This year, the training has been COMPLETELY different, and I expect the race to be just as different. In total, I dabbled with my multiple injuries for 6 months, and eventually took 1-1/2 months totally OFF from any sort of working out. So, for this marathon, I went from zero to high mileage in 4 months. It was SCARY. Like really really scary. In the beginning, I had frequent runs where I still felt my shin ache, and I thought the world was ending and I’d never be able to run again. Not to mention that I still have the peronal tendonitis that lead to the stress reaction in my shin. It’s an issue that I know I can’t ignore or else I risk another bone injury. So I get a lot of ART, changed my footwear, and started running in orthotics. (I also started getting more sleep, which has done WONDERS for my legs.)

So. Where does that put me? Well. The weekly mileage for this marathon has been low. It averaged 32 mpw from December through February. The workouts during these early months were few and far between, and mostly consisted of fartleks and a handful of slower track workouts. There were a lot of XT and rest days and the long runs were shorter. I really started getting to work in March, but only in the sense that the track workouts got more intense, the fartleks went away, weekly mileage went WAY UP, and I had a handful of small progressive tempos. The long runs during the month of March actually felt great. I felt less fatigued than I have in past marathon cycles, which was super optimistic, especially since my weekly mileage went up, peaked at 77, my highest ever, and I had a second week of 72 just before taper (2 weeks over 70 mpw = also something I’ve never done before.)

At the end of the day, despite the lower intensity of this year’s training, I don’t feel TOO far behind where I was last year. Ultimately, I will be satisfied with a strong, confident, negative split race. Time-wise, it’d be great to be in the general vicinity of my PR, but being over 3:10 will be just fine with me. I’m not gunning for a PR. My sights are set for the fall, and I want to really make it count then, so I don’t want to do anything stupid here that’s going to jeopardize my chances of being healthy, fast, and strong when I need to be.