I have seriously been stepping outside of my comfort zone, testing the waters carefully to see what I am capable of. Last week that came in the form of my second week of higher-than-ever mileage (clocked in at 83.49 miles – this is majorly gigantic for me!), running a timed mile on the track (also majorly gigantic for me!) and doing my 18 mile long run with the last 10 miles of it run in a local race, at or faster than my marathon goal pace (HUGE).
I went into all of it with the attitude that I was attempting to do it because I believed I could, that I would grow for trying and that I would be strengthened in both mind and spirit because I was stepping up to face my fears in light of a strong faith that I could do it … no matter the actual outcome. But I also knew that I would not risk everything to accomplish these running goals — that I would listen to my body as well as my heart and if in ANY way whatsoever I felt this was dangerous, I would pull back and keep the BIGGER picture in mind.
Because no matter what, the big picture is always the most important thing to me.
So … how do I feel after two weeks at over 80 miles? GOOD. Really really really good. Strong. Hopeful! My body is adapting to this build so nicely and I am incredibly grateful for that.
How did 18 miles go with the last 10 at marathon goal pace?
Three words: It. was. amazing.
What is my goal pace anyways?? Well, at the beginning of this training cycle I really believed I could finish somewhere in the 3:20-3:25 range (this would be average pace somewhere between a 7:40-7:50/mile) if all went well with my training. I designed my training plan and decided to attempt to train at paces for a 3:20 marathon. My body was handling it so well – my times on the track and my endurance on long runs as well as my strength in tempos sort of amazed me.
And then I started to DREAM BIGGER.
This past week in particular I found myself wondering … maybe I can attempt to break 3:20 in my marathon this fall. The doubter in me said HOLD UP — you already went from a 4:35 to a 3:34 in a year’s time, Jess … don’t be all crazy thinking you can chomp off tons more time this cycle! But the thing is, I DO know it sounds crazy, but I am not being clueless about this. I am believing I can do this because in many ways, I am already doing it.
I spoke with a couple of dearly awesome friends who also happen to be incredible runners (one of them is this girl) – friends who really know their stuff and who are also friends who would never feed me B.S. just to sugarcoat me. Friends who I can trust whole-heartedly. Friends who would tell me STRAIGHT UP if I am crazy. And they told me they believe in me. That they are certain I can do even MORE than I think I can. This means SO MUCH to me.
It really helps to have people in your corner who you can trust. People who believe in you and people who can completely relate to where you have been and where you want to go – even though you are completely different and on your own unique journeys. I have a really amazing crew of people like that in my life. We just GET each other. It is awesome and we are beyond blessed.
So when I woke up on Sunday morning to run 8 miles with the Honey Badgers before toeing the line for a local (hilly) 10 miler, I was as ready as I could be to test myself. All of us were. We were each going to go out there and test ourselves, test our training — **face our fears** — and find some COURAGE to do what we believe we are capable of doing.
It went as good as or better than we could have hoped.
Miles 1-8 on the trail (trying to approach this like I would the beginning of any long run, start slower and build):
8:42, 8:32, 8:03, 8:09, 7:52, 7:55, 8:22, 8:14.
After finishing our 8 miles Dora, Chris, Maddie and I quickly got ourselves race-ready and drove down the street to the Start. We parked the car and hopped out with 10 minutes to go. We arrived at the Start line and all felt truly crazy, but in a good way. And then I looked over and saw one of my dearest friends who had given me the pep talk earlier in the week!! Dorothy was running this race too – and she was going to truly test what she had and go for her fastest 10 miler ever on a super hilly and tough course (I am not kidding about this!). I was so excited to see her before the start! It was a real treat for both of us and just what I think we both needed.
There I was, standing there with people who I so completely believe in, lined up at the start of this little local race ready to do something BIG. I look at my friends and the people around me and I see nothing but strength and grace. I KNOW right down to my very core that they will accomplish whatever they set out to do. I just know it and I believe in them with all of my heart. And I know that they feel that same way about me – we have the power to lift one another up in running. We really do. It’s like fresh wind under our wings, faith from a friend. I am so grateful.
I truly was not sure how I would feel when the gun went off – my legs were tired from the week and the 8 miles beforehand. Yet, I found myself holding back, talking myself into running slower so that I could test out my race pace. This race is very hilly with some pretty major climbs and some seriously steep declines. My goal was to run strong and to be in control and to come out of it with a time somewhere between 7:20-7:30 average per mile. My dear friend (and fellow honey badger) Maddie ran with me and we both felt amazing. We were reminding one another constantly to HOLD BACK. It wasn’t a race to try to PR or see how fast we could run 10 miles. It was a race to see if we could run our marathon goal pace on tired legs, and finish feeling strong and as though we had more in our tanks.
Miles 9-18 racing marathon goal pace through my town of Reston (I heart Reston, by the way):
7:17, 7:29, 7:29, 7:40, 7:06, 7:26, 7:34, 7:22, 6:55, 6:52
My time at the finish was 1:13:35, which was a 7:22/mile average. This is only a little over a minute slower than my current 10 Miler PR which was run on a MUCH less challenging course about 5 months ago. And I could have kept running. I am sure I had 8 or so more miles of fight in me.
I surprised myself yesterday. I did what I set out to do – and I showed myself that I am indeed truly capable of achieving my dreams on marathon day.
The average pace for all 18 miles was 7:43. The fastest I have ever run a long run. And arguably the BEST I have ever felt.
And to put icing on this already deliciously sweet running cake, I came in second in my age group! Maddie placed first in her’s and Dorothy ran a wicked awesome PR and won first in her age group!!!! Awesomeness all around. I’m telling you it was a GOOD day.
PLUS – all of the Honey Badgers rocked the race and ran the 10 miles at or faster than goal marathon pace! I am so amazingly proud of each one of us. Our hard work is TRULY paying off.
|happy honey b’s|
In addition to that, yesterday’s race also had a 10k and there were so many runners there who I helped coach through the Reston Runners 10 Weeks to a 10k program — it was amazing to see them looking so strong and happy.
My family was there – my husband plus all three kids. The race ran through my awesome town and finished on the local high school track – OUR TRACK – how perfect was that!?
I was in RUNNING HEAVEN all morning.
|me chris and maddie – photo thanks to brian kent!|
There are less than 4 weeks left until Marine Corps Marathon. I am trying to use these next few weeks to give myself no reason to doubt my capabilities on race day. To give myself reasons to BELIEVE in ME, in the beauty and strength of my own dreams, and in the hard work I have put in to get myself there. To continue to fill myself up with positive thoughts and surround myself with amazing friends.
And I am telling you this:
THIS GIRL — IS EXCITED.