My thoughts? Excited. I’m really freaking excited.

Last year, I approached this race very tentatively, unsure about how it would pan out. Coming off a tibial stress reaction made for a very shaky training cycle. The pieces only seemed to come together in the final week leading up to taper-so I definitely went for it on race day-but walked away with a time that was a few seconds off my PR…and another stress reaction.

Last year, the course broke me.
This year, I’m going to break the course.

This year, I’m nervous but confident (in case you couldn’t already tell). But my confidence stems from the miles and hours I’ve put into this sport over the past year because I love it so much. As the doc who does my ART said to me, “Mary, you’re a completely different person this year, and I don’t just mean by the shape you’re in. You’re just in a completely different place and you’re emotionally much more prepared.” And he’s totally right.

Over the past few months, I’ve realized that I don’t necessarily like saying that “I’m back” (meaning-I’m back to the pre-injury Mary, circa 2014). Because a wise friend taught me that the only way to really go is forward.

But I’m excited and proud of where I am today because getting here was a process that was built over the entire past year. Even when I got the diagnosis that my femur was injured. It was so much more different than when I consistently denied my tibia injury. With the femur, it was kinda like, “yep. Of course. I expected this to happen. So might as well be good about it this time,” and I stopped running IMMEDIATELY. I rehabbed through the summer and was smart about coming back. I never expected anything to happen magically and I was certainly discouraged many many times. But with a solid support system and a new training philosophy, I took baby steps to where I am now.

So now. Here we are. Here I am. Confident. In shape. Ready. Nervous. Excited. Wanting redemption.

And when I find myself too nervous, I remind myself that I’m running THE Boston Marathon. The event that terrorists tried to ruin three years ago. The race that shuts down an entire city for a day. The marathon you need to earn to get into. And people line up on the sides of the street for 26 miles SCREAMING and cheering on runners, just for the hell of it. The weather is going to be my absolute favorite running weather. I mean…it’s going to be fun as shit.

Here are the training facts, mostly because I like numbers:

Total Avg MPW Highest Week Lowest Week LR Most Memorable Workout (see more below)
December 117 29 34 24 8 6×400 | 3′ rest | 6×400

Actual: 400s averaged 1:21

January 214 54 53 36 15 8×4′ @ 5:52, followed by 4×45″ @ 5:28

Actual: 4′ averaged 6:00, 45″ averaged 5:09

February 232 58 61 48 20 4×2 miles @ 6:20

Actual: 2 mile segments averaged 6:18

March 264 66 80 46 24 7xmile @ 5:50

Actual: Miles averaged 5:59

124 61 35 18 3×3 miles @ 6:43

Actual: 3 mile segments averaged 6:36

  • December – 6×400 | 3′ rest | 6×400 -Probably one of my favorite memories from training. It was 60° (in December!!!) and it was the first time I was doing a workout with Alyssa, someone I met through James, my coach. We were in a park in New Britain and did the first set of 400s and were sweating our butts off. So we looked at each other and simultaneously took our shirts off to just run in our sports bras…and proceeded to kill the second set. In the distance, we could see this crazy illumination of Christmas lights (it turned out to be this Christmas house in New Britain) and we barely knew each other, but it made us so happy! Here we were…running together…in sports bras…right before Christmas…with so much time to go before Boston. It was a really fun night.
  • January – 8×4′ @ 5:52, followed by 4×45″ @ 5:28 – This was a hard month to pick a most memorable workout because there were so many good ones (hellooooo running 10 miles solo in YakTrax in the dark during a legitimate blizzard…which was also the weekend I broke a treadmill because it apparently couldn’t handle 6:20s). BUT. If I had to decide a most memorable one, it’s this 8×4″ workout. I did it with Aimee, and we both were SO NERVOUS. I had just run 5×4″ a few weeks prior and had BARELY made it through. There was no way I thought 8 of them would happen. But, somehow, it did.
  • February – 4×2 miles @ 6:20 – Hands down, my favorite workout this month (and quite possibly the entire training cycle), done with my friend Courtney. It wasn’t that I was nervous going into this one. I just knew it was going to be hard…but doable. We met at my work and headed out just before sunset. It was FREEZING and there had just been a snowstorm, so I was super stressed out about where in hell we were going to do the workout because the roads and sidewalks were super icy. Thank god Courtney is so positive because I was in a piss poor mood, until we stumbled across this apartment complex, tucked behind a major road in the middle of my town. Not only were the roads completely plowed and not icy…but IT WAS A PERFECT LOOP, each lap being about .8 miles. It even had a little rolling hill, so we had some up and some down. As soon as we found the loop, my piss poor mood immediately went away and I relaxed into the workout. The miles were smooth and controlled and consistently under 6:20. By the time we got to the last mile, we were grinding, but as we turned the corner for the last bit, Courtney said, “Mar, this is the workout you need to remember when you’re tired at Boston. This is where puppies become dogs!” hahahahaha. I still give her a hard time for that one. Anywho. Our last mile was a 6:15 and I was PUMPED. This workout was definitely a game changer mentally.
  • March – 7xmile @ 5:50 – This workout was done solo. I didn’t think there was any way in HELL I’d be able to do 7 mile repeats at the prescribed speed (5:50)…and I didn’t, not technically, haha…but I came very close (I averaged 5:59)! The first 4 miles were certainly easier than the last 3, but I kept telling myself to turn my legs over and stay bouncy and the miles somehow churned out. The other memorable workout in the month of March was a 5 mile warmup, then 13 @ marathon effort (we averaged 6:56), followed by a 3 mile cooldown. I did this one with Alyssa, and we did loops and loops around this beautiful reservoir in New Britain that was HILLY as shit. We climbed over 1k feet and it took at least 4 days to recover.
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This is what a 21 mile run with 1k feet of elevation looks like

  • April – 3×3 miles @ 6:43 – MARATHON MONTH! Yahoo! It really crept up on me. There obviously weren’t many workouts this month, but there were a couple, and my favorite was definitely 3×3 miles with Alyssa at the same park where she and I started our journey together doing 400s back in December. 🙂 This was the very last workout before taper, done 11 days out from Boston. You see-this is the first marathon I’m training under James, so it’s the first time I’m experiencing a 10 (11) day taper instead of 2 weeks. It was hard to watch all my friends celebrate tapertown over the weekend, while I still had a key workout to do, but it was definitely worth the wait.  Our 3-mile sets went 6:43, 6:35, 6:31, with our last mile cruising in at a 6:18. The thing is: I didn’t love this workout because we nailed our paces. I loved this workout because of how it felt. I had this exact same workout just about one month prior and it was pretty tough. This time around, in April, it felt completely different and effortless. Alyssa and I were chatting for the entire first set…chatted for most of the second set…and pushed it a little for the third set. It was validation that we are ready for this damn marathon.
  • Also – It would be remiss of me not to include the Boston Buildup races in here as key events leading up to Boston. My favorite workouts may be speed and short tempo, but this was the first year I did every single run of the CT Buildup series (10k, 15k, 20k, 25k), and I think the runs are SO so important to training. The races are fully supported, filled with positive people, and HILLY.
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The Boston Buildup 20k course, aka death by hills

SO the hay is in the barn. Or whatever the saying is. I’m stepping on that starting line Monday with zero regrets about my training and an insane amount of excitement to run my 6th marathon. Never, in a million years, did I ever think I’d be running more than 1 marathon, let alone 6.

I’m one of those people who likes to race, but I really love training, so closing this chapter is really bittersweet and even a tad big emotional. But it’s been one that I can look back on and be really really happy about.

Fast facts of this training:
Biggest difference – new coach
Number of ice baths – surprisingly, only 1
Number of workouts completely blown – 2 (one was a DNF and one was a DNS)
Number of sports bra runs (includes indoor track/TM) – 7
Batches of cookies baked – 3
Other locations besides CT where I’ve run this block – NJ, Chicago, VA Beach, Boston
Bottles of Immodium purchased for LRs – 2
Number of times I thought I was injured again – 15
Number of weeks living at my in-laws b/c we were Airbnb’ing our house out – 8