I didn’t train for a marathon all summer. I trained for Hartford. The half marathon at Hartford. And when I crossed the finish line with a new half marathon PR, I soaked in every minute of happiness and elation that comes with the magic of a PR–especially one that you didn’t think would happen.
After cooling down from my own race, I changed my clothes and shifted focus to the finish of the marathon. I glued my eyes to the finish line, waiting for my own coached athletes and friends to come through.
Having elite access at Hartford meant I had finish line access at all times during the race–so I was able to meet my athletes and friends and give them a huge hug when they were done. As my dear friend and training partner, Alyssa, crossed the finish line in 3:01, I sprinted to greet her. She was in a post-marathon daze, but I gave her a hug, and told her how excited and happy I was for her and her amazing race. And then I started to cry. I was overwhelmed with emotions, so it’s hard to put a finger as to why exactly I was crying. But one of the big things I was feeling was regret.
It wasn’t that I regretted not running the full at Hartford. –after the Boston/Buffalo combo, I wasn’t ready to spend a summer full marathon training. But I felt regret about how both Boston and Buffalo ended. How I spent months and miles training tirelessly…and was greeted with shitty race-day weather (not once…but twice) to derail my goals and dreams. I felt robbed that Alyssa and I weren’t able to finish the Boston Marathon together, hand in hand…something we had dreamt about on long runs.
I talked to a close friend after Buffalo. I had expressed to him how disappointed I was in myself–for going into a race with the attitude of “I’ll probably just DNF,” which is where my head was before Buffalo.
He said, “the only time a back-to-back raced marathon is a good idea is if you’re truly angry…and the anger is what’s fueling you.”
He was totally right.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t ready to fight for it in Buffalo, especially when it got gritty and tough. I needed time after Boston to heal, both physically and mentally, and I hadn’t allowed myself to do that.
As with everything in life: time heals. This summer, my training sucked because I struggled with self confidence and believing that I would never get back to that elusive “pre-Boston shape” I had put up on a pedestal.
But then Hartford was a huge trigger for me in many ways. It showed me that I am stronger than I thought I was. It showed me that I needed to have more confidence and trust in my coach. It showed what can happen if you stay positive in a race situation and don’t fall asleep. And it finally triggered me to be pissed. –To be mad, but also to be okay with giving myself a clean slate…to move past the demons from the spring and accept where I am NOW.
The timing of Philly isn’t ideal. Theoretically, it would’ve been much better to wait until the spring to race another marathon. But I’m doing some family planning (if you know what I mean) so I have no idea where I’ll be in the spring.
There are four essentials needed for successful marathon running:
- Adequate recovery
- Consistent training
- Mental capacity to grind when you’re tired
- Marathon-focused longer runs
Based on these important elements, James and I thought running a strong race at Philly would be very doable. My training leading up to Hartford was pretty significant, with several weeks of 60+ mileage, and a handful of long runs over 15 miles. On October 17th, the day I decided to run Philly, I was able to easily cross off numbers 1 and 2 from my list. I had 5 weeks to focus on longer distances and marathon-paced running. And I had 5 weeks to mentally gear up and continue to get excited.
Signing up for this Philly Marathon is the most unconventional and last-minute thing I’ve ever done, and it could go horribly wrong. But my attitude is ready for this fight, and that’s a huge part of the battle. I want to start slow…and finish feeling like a badass. Like Hartford: all goals and expectations are thrown out the window, though I have had some of the fastest and strongest workouts of my life over the past few weeks. A PR would be anything below 3:06, though with the 40mph winds predicted for Sunday, anything could happen. So I’m ready to do this thing. I’m ready to race hard and fight for a finish. I want to smile and enjoy this run. I ran my very first marathon in Philly in 2010…so I’m excited to go back to the place where it all began.
Redemption is going to feel nice.