long run reflections – I know I can…

If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.
– Thomas Edison
I’m pretty sure I’ve started a blog post with this quote before.  It’s one of my favorite quotes and has been in my head on repeat over and over again this summer, and really over so much of the past year.  It’s been a theme of sorts for me.
One of the reasons I love to run is because it shows me I am capable of so much more than I ever dreamed possible.  In the past year I have had to dig DEEP to muster up the courage to push myself farther than ever before – to follow my heart and chase my dreams.  I have been running for more than 12 years but it wasn’t until this past year that I REALLY began to go outside my comfort zone, to take that leap of faith and go to my edges to see what I am truly made of.  This journey, this endeavor, has been full of ups and downs and scary places – and the most incredible JOYS and triumphs.  It has been worth every bead of sweat, every sacrifice.  Every moment when I thought I couldn’t do it, but did anyway.  And then some.
This time last year I was working hard to improve my marathon time.  My PR was 4:35 and I believed I could run a 4 hour marathon if I trained smart and stuck with it.  I surprised myself when my long runs were consistently right around a 9:00/mile average pace and I was able to run some marathon goal pace miles in all of them.  When I arrived at the start line of Marine Corps Marathon I felt so ready to set a new huge personal best – I was going to blow 4 hours out of the water if all went well.  And it did.  3:41:52 – almost a full hour better than my previous PR and two minutes shy of a BQ time.
In the winter I tried again.  I upped my mileage (conservatively and carefully), pushed harder on the track, and aimed for my long runs to be right around an 8:30 pace.  I practiced goal race pace miles in many of those long runs and was able to nail them.  It was not easy, but I was dedicated and determined and it paid off.  I crossed the finish of the RnR DC marathon with a time of 3:34:46.
This summer the weather has been hot and humid but I’ve been working harder and learning to be smarter and tougher than ever before.  My spring race times and the times I’ve been clocking at the track have indicated to me that I am capable of more.  That it is possible for me to run in the ballpark of a 3:20 marathon this time around if all goes well.  It scares me some days – this big hairy giant audacious goal of mine – but I decided to give it a shot.  I’m listening to my body and striving for this new goal.  Truth be told, I’m not sure what will happen on race day (that is the heartbreak of the marathon, right!?), but my training has taught me to BELIEVE in myself.  I know that I am capable of something more.  Whatever it is.  I am going for it.
My target pace for my long runs this cycle has been anywhere from an 8:00-8:20 average (McMillan says for a 3:20 marathon the range for my long runs should be anywhere from a 7:36-9:04 pace, I just set this goal for myself based on what I did last cycle and where I want to be this time around).  With the exception of the hottest, most humid days (especially in early July when temps were over 100 degrees!) I have nailed it every time.  I pulled out my training logs and data and it has been so motivating to see how well I have been running my long runs this cycle:

6/16 – 14 Miles – 8:04 average
6/24 – 14 Miles – 8:05 average

7/1 – 16 Miles – 8:50 average
7/7 – 16 Miles – 8:56 average
7/14 – 14 Miles – 8:05 average
7/22 – 16 Miles – 8:01 average
7/28 – 18 Miles – 8:20 average

8/4 – 20 Miles – 8:15 average
8/11 – 20 Miles – 8:09 average
8/18 – 20 Miles – 8:03 average
*there is one less long run here because of Hood to Coast*

9/1 – 20 Miles – 8:06 average 
9/9 – 22 Miles – 7:59 average

Sometimes I doubt myself.  “Sometimes” … as in pretty much every single day of the week.  But deep down inside, I KNOW I can do this.  I know I can do what I am setting out to do!  I am not pulling this out of thin air.  I’m not setting my goals willy-nilly or basing them off of someone else’s standards.  I am striving for this because I sincerely BELIEVE I can do it.  I don’t want to limit myself, to be closed-minded about what I am capable of.  I want to astound myself!  To keep my heart and my mind open to all of the possibilities that await me.  This is one of the reasons I love running so much – it symbolizes so much of what I value in life.  It keeps me moving and open and FREE to explore my own possibilities.

14 thoughts on “long run reflections – I know I can…

  1. Jess, you are amazing!!! You've totally got this 🙂

    Also, I can't believe only one year ago you were trying to beat your 4:35 PR and go for a sub 4! You give me so much hope, courage and belief, you are such an inspiration! Keep up the amazing work, my friend.

  2. You are such an inspiration! I can't wait to read your race report after the marathon and hear how you did.

    It is after reading posts such as this one that I really want to set my sights higher and my dreams bigger. My PR is a 3:35 and I've been wanting to run a sub-3:30. Now I want to set a longer term goal of 3:20! Good luck!

  3. With the training you have done I think 3:20 is a VERY realistic goal. I can't wait to see you do it!! Keep up the awesome work and attitude and you can achieve all of the goals you set your mind and heart to. 🙂 Hugs!

  4. Love this post. I usually don't wear Garmin for long runs and usually run very slow! You've motivated me to maybe a) wear Garmin more and b) maybe run a little harder.

    I think you'll blow your old PR out of the water!

  5. You are both amazing and inspiring. Don't ever doubt your talent because you have been given an incredible gift and I know that you have it in you to run the perfect marathon. Sub 3:20 has your name written all over it!

  6. Hey Jess. Great post! I am a little curious about the 3x 20 milers in August. Did you plan out that you were going to do 20's every week that month or did you just feel good so you decided to stay with that distance? I am trying to soak in as much info as I can as I start thinking about building a training plan for this spring!

  7. thank you so much, guys!
    corey — i just realized i goofed a little — my long run on 8/18 was actually 18 miles not 20! i put together a little bit more of an advanced schedule for myself this cycle – trying to get a few more higher mileage runs in the books (18-22 miles) and also build my weekly mileage, so that is why i have more of them on the schedule this time. if you have any questions ever just dm me – paceofme@gmail.com. you are going to have an AWESOME spring marathon!!! xoxo

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