Up to this point…

I have been quite impressed with what my physical therapist has been able to do for me through this training period. Looking back at that dismal week in February and wondering if I’d even be able to run Boston seems like a lifetime ago. As the weeks have passed, the road has certainly been rocky, but it is still leading me down the path to Hopkinton. And for that I’m more than grateful.

Winter lingers on in the upper midwest, or at least in Minnesota. We get a lick of spring and in a flash it morphs (or freezes) back into the dismal winter. It seems that I just can’t catch a break with my runs. I like to get them done before noon, but the mornings are cold and dreary. Sure, late in the afternoon, we may have hit freezing with some sunshine, but by then it is too late for me to run.

It is kind of funny how I have finally succumbed to the Minnesota winter and have already packed away all my base layers, with the hope that spring will arrive any day now. At the same time, this has forced me to do one-layer or maybe two-layer running no matter what the temperature. We’ve still had some chilly mornings…with temperatures in the teens. So I’ve toughened up, so to speak. Still, my worst issue has been with my hands and feet. I still need to add an extra cap on my toes, and my heavy Lands End mittens are a must unless the temperature is close to 30°. Wind decides whether I wear a hat or not.

But, as I write this, our forecast looks amazing this weekend. 42° Saturday and 67° on Sunday! Could that BE?!? One can only hope. I’m destined to do a half marathon length run and a 15 miler, respectively. This could be just glorious, with a chance to spread my wings.

Looking back at where I left off blogging about my training, I had just finished my 18 miler followed by a typical Hal Higdon week and the Get Lucky half marathon, which I PR’d.  For the most part, everything after that went amazingly well. I was a bit stiff the following few days after the race, as to be expected. It is hard to believe that when I ran my first half marathon back in May of 2012, I really wasn’t able to run until at least 5 days later..and even then it wasn’t easy. Now, I’m running the days after a hard half marathon run. Who would’ve thunk it.

The rest of the week went as scheduled, with alternating effort and short run days of 7 or 8 miles and 5 miles. Effort days were hill repeats or intervals, which all went OK. Not great, but OK. And I managed to get through them. Again, weather factored a lot into these workouts. The wind has been any thing but kind, and morning ice means careful footfalls which slows down the pace immensely. I guess I should be grateful I was able to run outside at all. I didn’t turn to the treadmill once. In fact, I made a vow to myself not to get on it for the remainder of this training. I want to preserve this great healing I have going on in my leg and don’t want to risk it with a treadmill run because of a little cold…or ice…or wind…or a blizzard.

Yep, you heard me. Blizzard. I’ll get into that in a second.

RRCA Coaching Class Booklet

This past weekend, I had the unique opportunity to attend an RRCA Coaching Certification class. It was held about 45 minutes north from me in a Lifetime Fitness that deserves a blog post in itself. (It was by far, the largest workout establishment I’ve ever seen). I was looking forward to meeting Michael Scott of Run Nerds Rock at the class and maybe being able to get a run in with him.

At first I was intimidated…but Michael was there to greet me. And the room filled with people…some young, some older, men, women, experienced, athletes, and even just recreational runners. Imagine being in a room full of runners. And not just any runners…but certifiable runners. The kind just like you…the kind who are not quite “normal”. Of course, I mean this in the kindest of ways. And I”m thinking if you are as addicted to running as I am, you get this.

It was a great two days, and after Saturday’s class, Mike, myself and our tour guide Joe took us for a 6-7 mile loop around the lakes. After sitting all day, it was glorious. A nice, easy run in the brisk, cold, Minnesota weather. I think that temperature was around 16 or so at run time. And having lived in Minnestoa for 15 years already, I was embarrassed to say that I have never been to the lakes for a run. My husband always preached of how unsafe an area it was and that I’d most certainly get mugged. I’m happy to say that it didn’t happen. I will return in the spring and summer, because I’m sure it would be even more amazing that time of year.

Michael and I

Michael and I

The second day of class, there was no organzed run plan, so  I rushed home to get some miles in before dinner. Again, 7ish miles, and a bit warmer than the day before…but not by much. I had to put off my scheduled 20-miler today because of the class and debated whether to attack it Monday or Tuesday. Monday was slated to be cold with light snow, where Tuesday said cold, sunny and blustery. In my book, light snow typically beats out blustery…at least in Minnesota, so I finished up my P90X and went for it Monday.

P90X is not easy, and it probably wasn’t the best idea for me to run 20 miles after that workout. But I did it anyway. I headed out at 11:00am. Perfect! This would give me a feel of that start time. It is my Boston start time. I’d be able to learn a bit more about what and how to eat in the few hours before the race that I’ll spend invariably on the bus, and mulling around at the starting line.

I got a phone call just as I headed out on the run. And I had to deal with it. This didn’t do well for my mindset. Dang it! I actually considered turning around, but in the end, I didn’t. I’m still not too sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

The first few miles really weren’t that awful…and I even saw the sun peak out from behind the clouds a few times. But as I turned out of a wind protected neighborhood and headed west for a good 6 mile stretch on the open road, the winds turned from the west and the snow started to fall. And I mean FALL, in giant clumps which immediately attached themselves to my glasses, clothes, hat, everything. Hello?!? This sucks! What do I do? Call home? Keep going? I decided I’d at least try to accomplish half the run, then make a decision from there. I mean, I knew there was snow in the forecast, but I wasn’t prepared for the wind and the blustery conditions. In turn, I tightened up a little bit, and this made me tired and achy in my shoulders and arms. I did my best to relax and loosen them up on this stretch or road.

I fueled with Energybits and coconut water at mile 6 or 7. I used a tic tac dispenser this time, and it was far easier than the baggies.

My next turn was to the south, and I was hoping to get some relief from the winds, at least…but unbeknownst to me, as I turned, the wind shifted. You guessed it… coming directly out of the south. This run could not have gotten any worse then it was already going. I forged ahead, however, still feeling like I had to finish it or at least make it to the half marathon mark. The turn marked 9.5 miles…only 9.5 miles. This run was taking forever.

I decided that at my next turn, which should be around the half marathon mark, I”d have the opportunity to make yet another run altering decision. Then it hit me. I hadn’t even run a half marathon yet! Egads! This run was taking forever and a day! Ugh. I just want to quit quit QUIT! It is already way past lunchtime, and I was hungry…hungry as all get out. All I can think about is what I”ll eat when I get home.

I got a little reprieve from the wind as I made the turn east, and had to decide whether to stay the course or take a jog south again. Staying east meant running a rather questionable road with fast traffic and limited visibility. On a sunny day, I wouldn’t hesitate. But not today. I headed south down a rather deserted gravel road…and back into the wind. Drat!

Now, I refueled with some Energybits and coconut water again. I was getting thirstier. I put a few teaspoons of Ucan in there too, and it seemed to help. But it wasn’t lasting as long as it was previously. I was wearing down. It was cold, and I was getting frustrated by my own lack of visibility. And the run was taking forever. The only good thing was my Ben Greenfield podcasts were still going strong, and as long as Ben could keep talking, I could keep running.

It was finally time for the turn east.

Thank God. The wind was finally at my back, but now the snow was coming down hard, and I could only see about 1/4 mile ahead of me. White out. Yep..blizzard. This road doesn’t tipically have a lot of traffic, thank goodness. And believe it or not, I finally felt good. After 15 miles of running, I finally felt at ease.

So, I practiced with pace, form, strides…whatever I could at this point. I only had a 3.5 mile east before I had to turn north again. I did what I could with what I had. Runmeter told me at 18 miles that I was at 2:40:00. This was 5 minutes faster than my previous 18 mile run. And when I heard that, I was proud. Because this was far from easy. And I was doing okay.

Mile 19? All up hill…but with the wind stilll at my back, I managed it without walking. And with a little more than a half mile left, I strode it home…surging at the end. Getting it done…frozen fingers…hungry…whooped. I made it home. How did I even doubt myself? I’d probably just run the worst 20 mile run of my life, in the worst conditions ever. But I got it done.

All I can think now is PLEASE DON’T LET IT BE LIKE THIS IN BOSTON! I don’t think I could do it again.

20 Mile Blizzard Run

20 Mile Blizzard Run

Post run, I was wobbly on my legs for the rest of the day. It was tough to get up out of a chair or car seat. And all I wanted to do was crash in bed. But there was still dinner, and pre sleep duties that needed to be done. I did my best, forgot the rest, and crashed. I also ran in my Brooks Ravenna, which now I regret because I’ve had some left calf issues post run. It is time to stop experimenting and go with what I know. I’m hoping…praying…it just goes away once I’m fully back in the Pure Cadence. Good thing I stocked up.

And, amazingly, I got out of bed the next morning not believing what I had accomplished the morning before. Hal wanted to me run 5 easy miles after the 20 miler. My schedule was off a day, so I kept it like that. I did the 5. Grudgingly. But after the first mile, the rest came kind of easy.

Next Day 5-Miler

Next Day 5-Miler

I did little as far as effort workouts for the remainder of the week. I just felt like I needed the break. I did a few easy 7 milers, rounding out the week with 5 at a little faster than marathon pace. Today was a day of rest, although I did do a P90X workout after my PT appointment.

And now here we are at the present day…just 24 days out from the run of a lifetime.
How do I feel? Hopeful.
How do I think I’ll do? Okay.
Will I PR? Probably not.
But Will I run Boston? Most Definitely.

3 Responses to Up to this point…

  1. Congratulations on pushing through!! As crazy as it sounds, I think having some of those super tough (mentally) runs often makes you stronger on race day. You’re a machine for doing it after P90X, too!! Way to go!

  2. Briana says:

    Wow… way to go! That sounds like a VERY tough day… 20 miles isn’t easy to begin with, but 20 in a blizzard? WOW! That’s perseverance!

  3. Taylor says:

    Thank you for the extra bit of motivation you just provided! For me, a P90X workout by itself is challenging enough, but to include a run afterwards is just unfathomable to me. Thanks again for reminding that I can always push just a little harder. Keep up the great work!

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