long run reflections and dreaming big

Last week was a big week for me.  I ran more miles in one week than I ever have (64!!) and also ran my final 22 mile run of this training cycle.  Peak Week is behind me and now I begin the transition into taper.  My race is less than 3 weeks away!

Saturday’s long run was a bear.  The weather was insane.  For the first few miles we ran through an unexpected snow squall and battled high winds (about 30mph) through mile 8 at which point we turned and had the wind at our backs for a while.  The final 3 miles were once again fraught with the strongest wind conditions I have ever run in.  The goal was to maintain an average pace of somewhere between an 8:30-9:00 mile and to try to push it at the end if we had it in us.  I know I was pushing at race pace effort those last three miles, but against that crazy wind it doesn’t really show exactly how hard I was working.  I ran with my buddy (and fellow Honey Badger) Chris and we finished strong despite the weather conditions.  Average pace was an 8:34 which factors in a long stop light and a watch snafu at miles 11 and 15.  It was an excellent run and I am proud of both of us for tackling it the way we did.

blissful – and tired – after my 22 miler

When I got home I thought about how this training cycle has been going, particularly with regards to my longer runs.  I’ve run three 20+ milers – a 20 miler on the treadmill on January 21st which I completed with an average pace of 8:31 per mile, a strong 22 miler on February 11th (average pace 8:29) and Saturday’s 22 miler (average pace 8:34).  I’ve also run three 18 milers (average paces were 8:32, 8:29 and 8:38) and a few really strong 16 milers with race pace miles at the end of many of these runs.  This is when I need to tell myself to trust in my training.

I’m training for a 3:30 marathon finish (average pace 8:01) and the McMillan Calculator recommends that I run my long runs between an 8:30-9:30 pace, so I’m consistently hitting the faster end of this range.  These paces have not been a problem for me, and I’m recovering just fine.  This is NOT to say that it has been easy – I’m working harder than I ever have in all my life! – but in the moments when self doubt and negative thoughts creep in, in those instances where I think to myself oh my gosh a 3:30 is really really fast and that scares me to pieces – I have to take a step back and remember that I have done the work.  I have to remind myself that the reason I am attempting a 3:30 marathon is because I KNOW I CAN DO IT.  I know it deep down inside and I believe it with all of my heart.

Last training cycle I wanted to run a 3:40 so I could qualify for Boston.  I was training at paces for a 3:40 consistently and I crossed the finish line in 3:41:56, less than 2 minutes from my qualifying time.  My long runs were nailed nearly every single time at about a 9:00 average pace.  This time around I am working harder – running faster, logging more miles – and I have got to believe that it will pay off on race day.  When I compare my last (and only) 22 miler of my fall training cycle to the two 22 milers I did this cycle, it makes me smile:

I know that anything can happen on marathon day.  There are so many factors and that is just how it goes.  But I also know that I have never had a training cycle like this and that if I cross the finish line with a different outcome than I am hoping for, it will just make me feel even more determined to pick myself back up and try again.  I have not come this far to give up.

My goal is to finish with a time under 3:39:59 – I want that BQ and I want a PR.  But I KNOW that I am capable of more so I am DREAMING BIGGER than that.  I have worked for more.  I love the way Dorothy sets her goals, and I’m inspired to do so in the same way (please read her post today if you haven’t already – so so good).  It totally scares me to do this, but here we go:

Marathon Goal: 3:39:59 – a PR and a BQ

Realistic Goal: 3:35

Dream Big Goal: 3:30

So, now I have less than 3 weeks until the big day.  The “hay is in the barn” as they say.  Before I transition into the official taper, I will run about 50 miles this week (including a 16 mile long run on Friday) and then from there it will be time to focus on reducing my mileage, staying stress-free and healthy, resting my legs and strengthening my mind and spirit as I prepare for race day.

I am SO excited.  It’s almost GO TIME!

12 thoughts on “long run reflections and dreaming big

  1. 3:30 is soooo fast (& a goal of mine too!) and you've so got this! Your training & your attitude is where it needs to be. can't wait to read/see/hear how you do — best of luck, speedy!!!

  2. Jess – I have NO doubt that sub 3:30 is not only possible, but completely DOABLE for you!! You've done the hard work to reach this point – your long runs prove all the time and sweat you've put in! =) =) Enjoy the taper! So excited for you! xoxo

  3. Ooooh, I love those comparisons of long runs. What is your race strategy going to be? (Good blog topic). I did the windy long run on Saturday as well and it actually felt a lot better than expected. 🙂

  4. It's been so amazing to follow your journey and all the hard work that you have put in. You will rock your marathon, no doubt. There are so many people in your corner and rooting for you. Seriously, I am so excited for you!

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