Is anyone else freaking out in the best way possible about the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon being less than 12 weeks away (82 days to be exact!)? I know I am, and by the looks of my fellow ambassadors‘ blog posts and social media updates, they are too! Some are hoping to qualify for Boston or will be running CLE post-Boston. Others are making it their comeback race after injuries. Some are hoping for personal records, while others are there to purely enjoy the experience. As for me, I’m chasing a pretty lofty PR dream. You’ve heard me say it before, but saying it again never hurts. My goal is to run a sub-4 hour marathon, which involves shaving nearly 25 minutes off my personal best set in Cleveland in 2014. Told you it was lofty.
I’m well aware that a sub-4 isn’t going to run itself, and because of this, I have taken my training to a whole new level this year. For me, training didn’t start at the beginning of the year as it had in the past. Training was going on since last summer. I worked at getting faster and was pleased to see my pace dropping. What used to be super speedy 5K pace for me (around the mid 8:00 range) was now my typical easy run pace. Before Christmas rolled around, I was already able to run a half distance around 8:30/mile, which made me very happy.
Training in earnest started in January. Each week, I have made sure to incorporate two elements I lacked in past training years – speed work and tempo runs. Before, I pretty much ran everything at the same pace but only increased the miles. The end goal of running the marathon was only to finish, not finish quickly. Before I started, I dreaded speed work, but now I actually get a kick out of it. I look forward to running fast, plus I feel like a complete badass when I race people on the treadmill. Watching some of the guys try to keep up and fail miserably pushes me to go harder. The tempo runs are coming along well, too! Just last week, I was able to run a hard 10 miles at an 8:05 pace. For me, that was amazing.
But what about long runs? I’m glad you asked! Even though I have been inside on the treadmill, I have still been pushing myself with those. I’m currently up to 17 miles, with another combined mile for warmup and cooldown. Not too shabby for being this far out from the race. Speed-wise, I’m not really following the rule of running long runs slowly. Not because I’m a rule breaker but because I want to know that my goal speed is possible. I’m quick to doubt myself, so by knowing I can run 16-17 miles under 9:00/mile at this point, I feel more at ease. Two weeks ago, I had an absolutely fabulous 16-miler. I felt great, the run was effortless (for the most part), and I finished in 2:17:14 (8:34 pace). This past Saturday was much different. I was tired. My body felt like it really didn’t want to run, and for some reason, I couldn’t get my mind to think about anything else except how much I wanted this torture to be over. It was a struggle to get through each mile, but that’s exactly how I attacked it. One mile at a time. A few tears were shed when I was finishing my last 4 miles. I knew I was past 3, but I accidentally hit the stop button. I had no clue exactly how far I had gone or how much time I had left, and it pissed me off something fierce. So I got a little misty as I started over for one more mile. When it was all said and done, I ran 17 miles in 2:30:27 (8:51 pace), and I was happy. The bad runs, the one where you fight for every mile, are the most rewarding.
What’s next? I’m REALLY looking forward to getting outside. That’s the true test. Treadmill and road are vastly different, which is one of the reasons I’m glad to be training up to some higher mileage at this point. I know I will take a few steps back once I move outside. I’m also looking forward to running at a local Metro Park that has some great hills. If you live in Lorain County, I highly recommend parking at High Meadows (or park at Planet Fitness to add some distance) and running the bike path to the steel mills in Lorain and back. I guarantee those hills will help you conquer the Shoreway in Cleveland. Race-wise, the only thing I’m currently signed up for is the Lake Health Running Series 20 Mile Drop. I ran this once before and loved it, plus I’m a Lake County girl at heart (shout out to Painesville!). It makes for a great training run before CLE, and they also offer a 10 mile option for those who want a longer run in before the half. I have some other races I would like to run, but we’ll see how the schedule shakes out. The Cleveland Marathon is the priority.
How’s your training going? Hit any bumps or is it moving along smoothly?