From 3:53 –> 3:32

Hello hello!

I am back again! See – I told you I’d come back to the blog. ūüôā

After the amazing success of Hyannis, I wanted to take a moment to look back at my progression and what I did differently with this marathon training cycle that allowed me to take a full 21 freaking minutes off my previous time.

Marathon Training**Disclaimer – this is not a post that’s intended to show how you too can take 20 minutes off your marathon time and qualify for Boston in one easy, breezy training cycle. Frankly, this post is so long because there is SO much that went into this PR and I don’t want to gloss over all the details.**

2016 Baystate MarathonSo, let’s go back to the Baystate Marathon for a sec. I ran this race in October of 2016. I was still uncoached at the time and the goal going in was pretty much to just have a better experience than I’d had at the Delaware Marathon which I had run that spring (finished, but had heat stroke and had to be transported by ambulance to the ER).

Rewinding even further- my initial goal training for Delaware was to try to qualify for Boston. After a few runs shooting for that 8 minute pace, I realized that might not be the best idea… So I backed off and focused on sub-4.

I decided to run Baystate pretty late in the game and didn’t officially start training until AUGUST (this seems insane to me now.) I also traveled for work a decent amount that month so I really didn’t do much training until the second to last week in August. I did have a base still built up from Delaware but even so… this is not ideal training.

Week of Aug 22nd – 41.5 miles

Week of Aug 29 – 26 miles

Week of Sept 5 – 50 miles (1 20 mile long run)

Week of Sept 12 – 43 miles (1 20 mile long run)

Week of Sept 19 – 9 miles (Traveling for work, but still – YIKES!)

Week of Sept 26 – 35 miles

Week of Oct 3 – 14 miles

Race Week – 8 miles + 26.2!

Looking back at this makes me cringe. My mileage was ALL OVER the place! Where was the steady build? How did I not get injured? I do remember the 20-milers in this training cycle taking a lot out of me. Like – spend the whole rest of the day on the couch doing nothing type tired.

I was trying to incorporate some marathon paced miles during my runs, but looking at my training notes, it looks like my long runs usually only had 5-8 miles at goal pace. For a harder mid-week effort, I was taking classes at Mystryde (a local treadmill studio). While those classes were good and a nice way to push myself, they were a little limited by time constraints (hour long class usually) and not very specific to my goals. I was also consistently taking 2 if not more rest days per week.

Shortly after Baystate, I decided to hire a coach. It was something I thought about for a long time and I finally decided that I loved running enough and wanted to invest in improving myself. I still wanted to qualify for Boston and I had a hunch that I was gonna need a little help. Somehow I came across ¬†Mary through the interwebs and I’m so glad I did.

After chatting with her about my goals, we agreed that I would skip a spring marathon and use the spring to target a PR in the half marathon. The thought being that if I could build some speed in the half, my goal marathon pace would start to feel a lot more comfortable.

**I think this decision was HUGE. If I had tried to jump into another marathon in the spring of 2017, I would not have taken 21 minutes off my previous PR. It can suck to wait when you’ve got a goal you want to accomplish so badly but patience in running is critical.**

So I ran a couple half marathons in the spring. I didn’t really have great races, but the training was there. I was 100% getting faster. I was running more miles more consistently and beginning to dream about my fall marathon.

Philly Half Marathon

We all know what happened with Philly. IT DIDN’T HAPPEN. It sucked. I love the half, but I was pretty annoyed to be running ANOTHER HALF MARATHON. But again, this was a situation where patience paid off. My hamstring strain would not have allowed me to put together the proper training to go after my goal, so once again… I pushed back my goal race to February.

So now that you have the facts, here is what the build for Hyannis actually looked like –

October – very light on miles, nursing my hamstring (and my pride). 71.7 miles for the whole month.

November – again, very light on miles. While I felt great running the half at Philly, I felt like I restrained my hamstring during a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. 100.9 miles for the month.

December – Things finally started to pick up. 128 miles for the month.

Week of Dec 11 – 30.3 miles

Week of Dec 18 – 25 miles

Week of Dec 25 – 39.3 miles

January – Finally, a solid month. I think I finally stopped being afraid that I was going to tear my hamstring during my speed workouts. 181 miles for the month.

Week of Jan 1 – 36.7 miles

Week of Jan 8 – 41.9 miles

Week of Jan 15 – 45 miles

Week of Jan 22 – 46 miles

Week of Jan 29 – 49 miles (1 20 mile long run)

Week of Feb 5 – 52 miles (1 20 mile long run)

Week of Feb 12 – 30.8 miles

Week of Feb 19 – 14.4 miles + 26.2 mile race!

Hyannis Marathon 2018So as you can see, this was a much more consistent and logical build. Again, this build only contained 2 20 milers. But I was running so many more miles during the week that I felt so much stronger on these runs. I was also training with WAY more miles at marathon pace. For example, my last long run was a 3 mile warm-up, 5 miles @ 8:15/8:20, 5 miles of 1 min on/1 min off (the min on was probably around 7:40 and the off was 8:50-9:00 pace), 5 miles @ 7:45/7:50, 2 mile cool-down. So roughly, 15 miles of work right around that goal 8:00 pace.

For the first time in a marathon  cycle, I actually really enjoyed running these 18-20 milers. I know that sounds crazy. But all the intervals truly helped break up the time and as I started to have success hitting these paces, I really began to believe I could run a 3:32 marathon. It was exciting!

In terms of rest days, early in the training cycle I was taking 2 rest days per week but as the mileage progressed, this dropped to one rest day per week. And I was fine!! I used to think I ALWAYS needed a rest day after a hard effort. Working with a coach has allowed me to see that easy miles can also work for recovery.

2017 was a long year. But I knew it would eventually pay dividends in my race times and it finally did. Hyannis was an incredible experience (rain and all) and I would not change anything about it. I can’t wait to see what I can do in Chicago come October!


Spectating the Boston Marathon + An Announcement!

Well at this point we are one week removed from the Boston Marathon, but I am still slightly awestruck from the experience of watching the marathon this year. It’s interesting because at this point, marathons and races are nothing new to me. I’ve always said I love the excitement and joy of a race atmosphere.

Boston is on a whole different level.

Around 9:30 in the morning on Marathon Monday, I met up with my coach and a couple of her friends to head out to mile 18 to spectate and cheer on the other McKirdy Trained athletes participating in the race. Already at 9:30 in the morning, it was HOT – probably in the 60s and bright and sunny. Pretty nice for spectating but not at all good for running a marathon. We got off the subway close to Mile 16 in the race and were just in time to watch the elite women breeze by us.

Elite women You could tell they were working hard but they still looked FAST. The crowds lining both sides of the streets erupted in cheers every time one of these women passed.

Shortly thereafter came the elite men. We saw the lead pack with Galen Rupp and a bunch of others cruising right along. A minute or two behind them was Meb! We cheered for him like no other and I was so excited to get some good pictures. His stride looked so powerful, I was in awe.

Meb Boston Marathon 2017We continued on our way, walking to just before mile 19 on the course. I knew Boston was huge on spectators, but still, it was something to experience, seeing the course lined with spectators on both sides so far outside of downtown Boston. There was also a much more relaxed vibe out on this part of the course. There was still plenty of security but there weren’t security checkpoints at every corner, which made it way easier to get around. People had set up tents and/or picnics outside their homes, kids were running around, and the whole thing just felt like one big, epic block party (one that just happened to be bisected by a marathon).

As we continued on, we saw a McKirdy Trained athlete coming our way who we immediately started cheering for. She saw us and stumbled toward Mary, clearly not in good shape. Just as she reached us at the side of the road, she toppled over onto the ground. Mary and her friend immediately scooped her up, protecting her from being trampled by the steady flow of runners behind her. Someone ran over and gave us a water bottle which we gave to her, and then she insisted on continuing on her way, despite assurances that she could stop and get some help. It was honestly a little scary and really hit home how tough the conditions on the course were.

Boston Marathon spectatingFinally, we got to our prime viewing area just before Mile 19. By this point, the elites were passed and more of the ‘average’ runners were passing in a steady stream. I had so much fun cheering for all the runners and listening to the funny cheers and comments from the group standing near us. It was hilarious how many runners ended up striking up conversation with those guys as they ran past!

Last year, I had gotten caught up in the chaos of trying to find my way to the hotel my running club hosts an after-party at right by the finish. Crowds of people, security checkpoints, and general pandemonium had me so stressed out I was hardly able to enjoy the marathon. It was so different this year and so nice to actually be able to spectate and enjoy the race. I would highly recommend the stretch of Mile 16-18 to anyone looking to spectate along the Boston Marathon!

I had felt passionate about running Boston someday before this whole experience, but watching it this year really brought the feeling to life for me. More than ever, this race feels like the Olympics of running for the everyday runner. So… after all the excitement and inspiration, I figured it was finally time to cement my own plans for 2017. Namely, marathon #4 and my attempt to BQ once and for all…

Philadelphia Marathon 2017

Philly.

Bring on Marathon #4.


Long Term Goals and Short Term Plans

So I have some news…

Most of you probably know by now that my mom is planning on running the Baystate Marathon again this year. Last year, she had run it while I had done the half marathon and we both really enjoyed the race (you can catch last year’s recap here!)

Baystate Marathon 2015After having a not-so-great experience at Delaware, it was kind of a no-brainer for my mom to sign up for this race again. Originally, I was thinking I would go just to spectate and cheer her on.

But then I started getting that itch again…

Originally, I was looking for marathons in January and February. With my work schedule the way it is, I have less travel and more time to train between the end of October and the beginning of March. After that, things are likely to pick up again, making marathon training difficult.

So why do I even want to run another marathon (especially after what happened last time)? In all honesty, it’s because¬†in¬†looking at the long term of what I want in my running, it’s that qualifying time for Boston. For me, that’s a 3:35 or better, which seems scary and fast and very far away. I’m well off that time right now, and I know this will most likely require years of training and more experience with the distance. From everything I’ve read, people don’t run PRs on their first or second marathons. 26.2 miles is a whole different animal from any other race, and it takes time, experience, and a lot of patience to figure out how to run this race right. I know I made some big mistakes in Delaware – I went out too fast, I didn’t fuel at mile 20 when I needed it most, and I finished feeling worse than I have ever felt in a race before. But I’m ready to take all those lessons and give the marathon another shot.

I was discussing all this with my mom, trying to figure out what I should do. The marathons I was considering were all relatively far away and would have required air travel as well as hotels, making them more logistically challenging. Then, she pointed out that I could just run Baystate with her. I’m not sure why this never really occurred to me before, but once she mentioned it, it was suddenly an easy decision.

Baystate Marathon

We are about 10 weeks out, and I’m not starting from scratch, but it definitely doesn’t leave any time to mess around! I am officially back in marathon training mode! Bring on marathon #3!!