My last marathon was in 2001. I signed up for another in 2007 but a few weeks before the race, I contacted the race director and asked to be switched to the half marathon instead. I just did not have the desire and excitement to do a marathon as I had in the past. When I graduated from college, all I could think about was running marathons and qualifying for Boston. From 1995 to 2001 I completed 12 marathons. This may not seem like a lot to some, but I run every race, including marathons, giving my best effort and running as hard as I can. By doing that, my body needs time to recover and properly prepare for each race. By 2007 I figured I was done with marathons since I no longer had the desire to race that distance. I just could not get excited about it. I mean, I was satisfied with my 3:18:05 PR and the variety of marathons I had run: Boston, Hartford, Paris, Disney, and Monaco to name a few. So I decided to focus on races half marathon distance or shorter.
Then in March of this year I decided to focus on better nutrition to decrease my percentage of body fat and once my stress fracture healed, I vowed to train smart and not let anything like that happen again. Sometimes coaches are not good at coaching themselves because they think they are the exception to the rules, but I won’t get into that here. Let’s just say that I learned the hard way. But, the important thing is that I did learn!
I spent the spring building a base, slowly and gradually. I added a few tempo runs and raced a few times, but no speed work. Then in the summer I raced a 10K on the beach on my birthday and placed 2nd overall. That night Bepa (my grandfather) passed away. The events during the summer that followed are described in more detail in my August 4, 2009 post titled “Starting Lines.”
I channeled my grief into my running both to exhaust those emotions right out of me and to honor Bepa by doing my best. This summer and fall have been the most consistent, focused, and intelligent training I have done in a very long time. I created a plan for myself, stuck to it, didn’t add any extra workouts, took the necessary recovery days, and remained focused. While my cross training (weights, yoga, cycling, etc.) often gets neglected, my running workouts have been a priority.
All of my fall races have gone better than I expected when I first created my racing schedule. I have felt more satisfied with my race results than I have in a long time. Perhaps that is why I decided to sign up for the Disney Marathon. Part of me wants to see what I can do in a marathon now, part of me just wants to qualify for Boston so I can run it again in 2011, and part of me wants to run a marathon for Bepa. My grandparents accompanied me to the Boston and Hartford Marathons. Those were incredibly special times having them there to support me, encourage me, and worry about me.
Now I am excited to race a marathon again. My training and racing have been going so well. I have finally convinced myself to stick to my own training schedule and not someone else’s. I listen to my body. I am nervous about Disney, of course, because I have not run a marathon in eight years. I will admit I have forgotten the experience. But with two good half marathons under my belt (Nov. 1 and Dec. 6) plus a 17 miler, an 18 miler, and three 20 milers, I feel confident that I will be able to complete the race and if I pace myself properly, achieve my goal of qualifying for Boston (I need a 3:45). If I run faster, that will be amazing, but I am only focused on the BQ (Boston Qualifier) for now.
The Disney Marathon in January will be the true testament of the training and racing I have done the second half of 2009. I will run it in honor of Grandma who is still adjusting to life without Bepa (as we all are). I will run it in memory of Bepa – to honor his memory, to honor his speediness and love of running, and to make him proud of me one more time. Bepa, this one’s for you. Y