I ran a marathon in January. After that, I decided to take a break from marathons and from working with the coach that I had worked with for over three years. I honestly wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to go with my training at all. I didn’t do any races in February (the first month in over two years that I haven’t done a race!). I did four 10ks in March and then I decided to chill a bit during April. Going into May, I gained a newfound sense of clarity as far as what I want to do in the next year, training-wise at least. There are still a lot of other areas in my life that are lacking clarity.
The Life Stuff
Let’s talk about some stuff that has nothing at all to do with running, but will help to explain some of my indecision and lack of direction with training in general. You see, Mr. Sesame and I have been talking about starting a family. We have been married for almost 8 years now (CRAZY) and having a kid (my preference) or two (his preference) is something that, for the first time ever, is actually on our radar. I honestly wasn’t sure that it would ever be even on our radar, so this is kind of a big deal.
What I have come to realize is that just because it is on our radar, it doesn’t actually mean that it is something we are ready to fully commit to at this exact moment. I could write an entire article about the decision (or lack thereof) to start a family and all of the pressure, etc. that comes with it, but since this is a running site, we’ll try to keep this somewhat related to running. As an only child, I think the pressure is amplified by about one thousand percent. My parents haven’t put too much pressure on me, but at the same time, there is no way to escape from the reality of the situation. I am the only person in the world that can give them a grandchild and none of us are getting any younger.
If we were to find out today that we are having a baby (this is NOT a pregnancy announcement), would we be excited? Absolutely! Would we be scared out of our minds? Absolutely! People like to tell you that “you’ll never truly be ready,” but I like to think that a time will come when I might be a little bit more ready than I am at this exact moment. Having a child is one of the few things in life that can’t be undone. I’m not saying that I would want to “undo” it or would regret it in any way, but I do think the fact that I am keenly aware of this fact means that maybe, just maybe, I’m not quite as ready as I thought I was at one point.
I realize that running and having a baby aren’t mutually exclusive, as our own Barley just proved by WINNING the Buffalo Marathon and setting a PR in her first postpartum marathon. At the same time, I feel like I have some unsettled business with the marathon that needs to be put to rest before we embark on this parenting journey.
The Running Stuff
Where does that leave us? I am planning to do another marathon in the late fall — likely early December — and also thinking about doing Boston in 2019. Tax Day and Marathon Monday fall on the same day in 2019, so Boston isn’t a sure thing at this point. I ran Boston in 2012 and it was a bit of a struggle to get the training in during tax season and I was completely run down and exhausted before I even started the race. I ran over an hour slower than my qualifying time. Yikes! I’ve always said that I wanted to go back at some point for redemption, so I guess you could say that I want to settle some unfinished business at Boston as well. If I do run, it will likely not be a “goal” race, but I would at least like to run a decent time.
We are going to Colorado for a Ragnar Relay in August, which I am super pumped about. I plan to shift my focus to longer distance training after we get back from Colorado. In the meantime, I am going to really focus on speed and shorter distance races throughout the summer. In a perfect world, I’d love to get back into 5k PR shape. My 5k PR is over two and a half years old at this point. I don’t know if that will be able to get back down into the range that I need to in order to PR, but it’s definitely worth a shot. I will have to work my butt off to get there, but I am up for the challenge! I’ve got several small races picked out for the summer (a one mile race, several 5ks and a four mile race) and hopefully I’ll be able to find a good goal 5k to do sometime before I get into marathon training.
I prefer to do a speed intensive training block in the summer before starting marathon-specific training. Speed work is tough and gives you strength and power you don’t get from marathon training. After running at V02 max pace in shorter summer races and workouts, marathon pace is gonna feel like a breeze! Okay, maybe not, but it will at least feel easier than it would have had it not been for the speed work. Another good reason to focus on speed over the summer is because it is just plain hot and no one wants to be slogging through a 20-mile long run when it is 95 degrees outside.
On the coaching front, I have decided to work with Sarah Bishop of McKirdy Trained. After talking with Sarah the first time, I was more excited about my training and running than I had been in years! Years! She is an amazing runner herself (she won the Marine Corps Marathon in 2017 and qualified for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials) and has complete confidence in me and my abilities, which basically blew me away. I’ve only done a few workouts with her at this point, but so far, it’s been great! She has given me specific advice on how to pace my workouts and has already adjusted a workout that I was super intimidated by to make it more doable (while still getting the same benefits).
The Goal Stuff
Now that we’ve talked about the plans, we might as well talk about some specific goals.
I mentioned a 5k PR. I need to run faster than 18:23 in order to meet that goal. To put this into perspective, I ran a 5k last weekend in 19:35, so I am going to have to work really hard to meet this goal.
I also mentioned unfinished business with the marathon. In 2015, I ran a 3:03 marathon in New Orleans and a 3:02 marathon in New York and then I didn’t race a marathon in 2016 or 2017. The obvious goal here is to get under 3 hours. I don’t want to put a ton of pressure and focus on the “sub-3” thing though, because I think that can be a huge mental block for a lot of runners. If my training this fall doesn’t indicate that sub-3 is possible, then that won’t be the goal. If my training indicates that it is possible, then I hope that it points closer to a 2:55 or something along those lines so that when I toe that start line at my goal race, I know without a doubt that sub-3 isn’t a reach. I’m sure this is all easier said than done, but we’ll see!
I think now you are pretty much up to speed (pun intended) and I plan to keep you guys updated with regular training logs and race recaps throughout the summer and fall.
What are you training for this summer?