- Complete a sub-4 hour marathon (Santa Barbara in November)
- Continue to insipre, and be inspired by, students that I coach
Usually, at some point during marathon training I fall into a slump and start dreading my long runs, even several days before. Part of the reason is because since moving to Orange County, the majority of my long runs have been on my own. I remember one Sunday in December a few years ago, when I had to run 20 miles. I woke up and did just about anything I could think of to procrastinate - I even resorted to cleaning and doing laundry. In an attempt to motivate myself, I got dressed in my running gear and put on sunscreen. But it wasn't needed, because by the time I actually got out there, the sun was setting. I ended up running in the dark, which turned out pretty cool, because I ended up on the peninsula and the boat parade was going on, but I wasted a day dreading it and cut the run down to 18 miles.
But this training period, I've found people to run with! On Saturday, June 4th I was running 20 miles with Diane. Because of the conversation, the miles were flying by and I felt great. Then, at about 12 miles in, we stopped and were refuling when I noticed another distance runner. You can spot 'em...distance runners have a fuel belt, garmin and well, they just look different. I asked her how far she was going, and she said 20 miles...the same as us. "What are you training for?" I asked. "Missoula, Montana" was Bridgette's reply, and an instant connection was formed.
That's the cool thing about meeting other marathoners: you have a common denominator and spring-board for great conversation. Bridgette joined us and because she was just starting out, had way more energy to talk, and this was a welcome distration. It turns out that we both had run the Anchorage, Alaska marathon but her time was 4 hours (27 minutes faster then my PR) which qualified her for Boston. And, she's 50 years old. It was both impressive and motivating. I can do that I thought. I gave her my email when we finished our portion and it was her 1/2 way point and time to turn around.
That week, I found out about an opportunity to coach the high school cross country team, expressed my interest, and eargly awaited a decision.
The following Saturday, June 11th, Bridgette joined Delia, Diane and myself to run the Back Bay. We completed 16 miles and again, with the conversations, the miles seemed to fly by. Bridgette told me about a speed group that meets Tuesday nights at the OCC track. I don't like speed work, and haven't been in months, but recognize that it's a key ingredient in improving my pace. In order to run faster, you have to run faster! Funny how that works. I said I would be there.
When I returned to work on Monday I found out I received the assistant coaching position for Cross Country! But unlike when I helped in 2007, this coach has us meet 6 days a week, starting July 11th. This means that when I return from Montana on the 12th, I'm right back at it, and won't be sleeping in all summer.
On Tuesday, I started the speed group. We were running 12 x 400's with a minute rest in between. That means 1 lap, all out, and then a short break of about 1 min. and 15 seconds. And then, 11 more. I was completing each lap in 1:40-1:45 consistantly. Bridgette was there to hold me accountable...because after 8 laps (2 miles) I wanted to quit. My average pace for the 3 miles was 7:27 and I felt exhilerated afterwards...much different than my easy, slow, long runs. I was also dripping with sweat.
I realized that with the combination of running 6 days a week (which will actually be twice on Tuesday and Saturdays for my long run) and my speed training I will be able to FINALLY break 4 hours in my next marathon: in November for the the Santa Barbara marathon. And when I do this, attaining my goal of qualifying for Boston (3 hours, 40 min.) will seem possible. All of a sudden, with these few changes to what had become a boring running routine, I found myself excited about running again.
And I actually didn't dread my last long training run for Montana today! With only 5 hours of sleep, met Diane and Bridgette at 8am for 2 loops of the back bay. After the 1st loop the marine layer was gone, the sun was out, and it started to get hot. We stopped at our cars after 10 miles and refueled. I went through 3 of my water bottles. And together, we kept going. Around mile 15 we saw 3 women trying to pose for a picture using the auto timer and placing it on their car. Diane asked if we should take a pic for them, and I offered, excited that this would be a good excuse to stop. After we finished the 20, Bridgette said she was hoping we would stop there. And Diane was thinking the same thing.
Missoula is 21 days away and it's time for my favourite part of marathon training: tapering! After today, I have 10-13 miles next weekend, and 10 miles the weekend after that. And then, marathon #14 in Missoula and a new set of goals.