Saturday, March 3, 2018

Boston Marathon Training with 43 days to go!

 All the Heartbreak Photo Creds to Justin Keefe
I'm taking a break from catching up on outdated race recaps to write about the present: Boston Marathon training! The 2018 Boston Marathon is just 43 days away.

After meeting the Boston qualifying standard but missing the cutoff by one second at the Vermont City Marathon in 2015...

...and then boiling my insides at the Vermont City Marathon in 2016...

I finally qualified for Boston at the Chicago Marathon in 2016.

To say I've looked forward to this opportunity is an understatement. Here's a glimpse into my journey to the 2018 Boston Marathon:

I had a bumpy start to 2017, working through lumbar herniation, sciatica and an IT band injury. I spent most of the last year recovering and rebuilding my foundation for running.

In August, I nervously jogged onto the MIT track early on a Tuesday morning to join a free, public coached track workout with The Heartbreakers running team in partnership with Nike+ Run Club. I was so intimidated upon arrival I felt sick to my stomach. By the second 400 meter repeat around the oval, I was jubilant. This felt like summer camp. I've returned nearly every Tuesday since. We've moved to the indoor track for the winter.

 All the Heartbreak Photo Creds to Justin Keefe

In September, I officially joined the Heartbreakers team. I've always been a runner who seeks a strongly structured plan, but I tended to run my workouts and long runs solo. Joining the Heartbreakers presented me with opportunities to explore my limits with the support of teammates and train purposefully with the guidance of nurturing expert coach Dan Fitzgerald. I focused on understanding the purpose of every run and workout.

I worked with my trainer at the YMCA to craft a strength training plan that would focus on lifting specifically for performance. I listened carefully to advice from my physical therapist and physiatrist to work diligently on stabilization exercises, core work, and single leg exercises that target my weaknesses.

And then, in a year I'd written off as lost to injury, I set new personal bests in the 5K...

...and in the half marathon.

I entered my 20 week Boston Marathon training cycle in December feeling like a stronger and smarter runner. The work was hard, but easy runs, hills, drills, and speed workouts were clicking off steadily.

The Heartbreaker Intermediate marathon plan has me running 6 days a week. I'm lifting 2 days per week, taking a cardio-strength fitness class 2 days per week, and performing specific core and/or hip stability work 2 days per week. I take yoga class with emphasis on postural stability and stretching connective tissue around the joints 1-2 days per week and stretch daily. I know I sound crazy. I promise I also have a job. 

As mileage built up, there was one thing looming over me. I'd injured myself last January on an ill-advised 15 mile long run and hadn't run that far since. Almost exactly one year later, 15 miles was printed neatly on the calendar taped to my refrigerator.

The run went off without a hitch.

Last weekend, I ran my first 20 miler of the training cycle, a "Double Firehouse Loop". Two laps around the Newton Hills, including the famed Heartbreak Hill.

It was tough and it was great and I am so excited. Even the signs outside of the gas station on my long runs are rooting for me.

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