If you’ve been a reader of mine and followed me through the adventures of marathon and half marathon training, you should know by now that I train solo. No running groups, no running partners, no online teams to help motivate me. I have run races with others before and love that, but when it came to training, it was just me and the pavement or treadmill. And I liked it that way. It was quiet and peaceful, but maybe a little too quiet and peaceful. Although I was putting in the miles each week, I wasn’t pushing myself as hard as I should to adequately prepare for a marathon and face the mental and physical obstacles of running 26.2 miles. Do you know what happened during last year’s race? I fell apart, completely, and felt defeated. I tried to blame it on the weather, but the truth was I just wasn’t as well trained as I could or should have been. I finished, but it wasn’t pretty. I swore off running another marathon for a really long time, maybe forever.
All of that changed when I was asked to come back as an official blogger for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. After last year’s race, I immediately signed up to run the half. I knew I wanted to participate in 2014, but the thought of running the marathon scared the crap out of me. A half would be more than manageable, and I had potential to crush it if I prepared enough. When I received the email from Joan inviting me back, I felt as though I owed it to them to give the marathon another shot, and I needed redemption for two poor CLE marathons (yes, I fell apart in 2012, also…so sad, but I was coming off on an injury). I quickly changed my entry, and I was set for my third Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon! Instead of feeling scared and worried, I was empowered. 2014 was going to be different.
For me, training for Cleveland started back in fall 2013 after I ran a month of half marathons. I vowed to not let myself lose the distance and speed I worked so hard to improve. I kept running long distance each weekend (at least 10 miles) and stayed consistent with my shorter runs during the week. I felt like a running machine! My times got quicker and quicker, and my endurance was improving. I knew I could go and run a half at any minute.
But something was missing. Although I was accountable and stuck to my training calendar for the most part, I still needed a push, a kick in the butt to get me out the door at times when I lacked motivation and make me pick up the pace. Lacking hard work and motivation wasn’t going to work if I wanted to crush CLE this year. I knew if I was going to become a better runner/marathoner, I needed someone to help me, so I changed it up and got a running partner.
Dan, who ran the Towpath Half Marathon in November with Susie and me and the Christmas Story House Run in December with Lex and me, said back in the fall that he signed up to run his first marathon in CLE! Exciting, I know, because it is my favorite race! I said I would help him run the race if he would help me. I figured he needed me because I have past experience with marathons and endurance, and I needed him because he is faster and would push me. Win-win. So far, runs have been going well, and it has been a learning experience for us both due to being solitary runners from the start. We hit a bit of a rough patch in training about two weeks ago, but our last long run gave us a much-needed confidence boost and motivation to train harder. We both dominated 15 miles (which was originally supposed to be 14, but we had so much energy and kept going). This is great because it puts us ahead of our training schedule, and a little extra preparation or wiggle room never hurt anyone. I also appreciate the fact he is able to run during the day when I’m at work due to working nights. Knowing he has already put in the miles motivates me to drag myself to the gym after work, even when I don’t really feel like running.
We have a goal for Cleveland, but I’d rather not share that now. It seems to change after every long run. Before our training, I would have been happy with a 4:30 race, but I’m thinking we have potential to finish much faster than that, making it a big PR for me and a fantastic first race for him. Time will tell, as we still have about 11 weeks until race day and are only 11 miles away from 26.2. That thought alone makes me smile because I have never been this far along in training! Currently, we have been logging treadmill miles, but I’m not complaining. I love being able to save my knees, not freeze my butt off, and avoid the worry of slipping on ice/slush/snow and ruining my race. Now, we are both ready to get outside and see how well our training has paid off. Stay tuned for updates! Good luck and happy training!