Here we are – Smack dab in the middle of winter, lots of snow and ice on the ground and reports of another storm on its way. We are also just three months away from the Boston Marathon and the calendar keeps moving no matter what the training conditions are like. It’s around mid-January that I usually become a little anxious about my training. I question whether I’m getting all the miles in and training hard enough. It doesn’t take much to bring down my confidence and make me a little nervous as we head into some higher mileage weeks.
Thankfully, I just put in a good solid week of training to put me in a positive state of mind heading into the end of the month. To start off the week Chrissy convinced me to do hill repeats with her Monday morning. My legs were still a little tired from a 12 mile run over the weekend but after some gentle coaxing, I agreed. After a little warm up we headed to a hill near our regular running route. It looked a bit daunting at first but I just chased Chrissy up about a quarter mile and before I knew it, it was time to come down. The second repeat focused a little more on my breathing and tried to keep my pace a little more consistent. The third repeat I was relieved to be half way done and then four and five I felt more warmed up. Six was a struggle but I was excited that we made it happen and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I anticipated. While challenging and a little painful, if I keep the repeats in my routine through training it will make a big difference on the marathon course. Boston is famous for the hills the second half of the race and the more physically and mentally prepared I am – the better I’ll feel.
Later that week I was able to get in an easy 4+ mile run and then a 6+ mile run at a challenging pace a little faster than I plan to race. I had to work hard on that run but I felt good and strong. After a deserved day off with some yoga I was ready for my long run on Saturday. 14 miles would be my longest training run since the NYC Marathon and while I felt ready for it – the weather was looking rough with a rain snow mix in the morning. Just as expected, the weather was gross. It rained, it snowed, it was a weird raw temperature and I couldn’t decide if I was hot or cold. I was able to make the most of it and focused on each step getting me closer to home and closer to being dry. This is winter training and it what you sign up for if you want to run Boston.
This is what I looked like on my Saturday long run. (not really. not at all)
After the 14 miler the fun wasn’t over for the weekend. Jared and I had planned to drive up to Nashua, New Hampshire to join the Gate City Striders for the second race in the Freeze Your Buns 5k series. The club holds the race every other weekend during the winter months on a relatively flat course and with timing. Jared was using the race as part of his heart rate training for Iron Man (please don’t ask me for the details – I’m just being supportive) and I agreed to make the trip with him and run the race. While Sunday morning started out rather mild and dry in Boston, when we made it to Nashua it was anything but. It was a repeat of the day before running in a rain/ snow mix with very slippery roads. Definitely not ideal conditions for a 5k but we had made the trip so we stuck to the plan to run the race. I took off at a decent pace and was hovering around 7:50 when we were close to the first mile mark and then I noticed my shoe lace was untied. I pulled over to re-tie and tried to make up some time but roads were too slick to gain any traction. The odds were stacked against me – shoe lace malfunction, slippery roads, wet snow in my face and tired legs from 14 miles the day before. I let go of any expectations and just ran – the race may not have showed that I’m fast but it definitely proved that I’m tough. Out of 144 runners Jared tied for 10th overall with a 21:57, one of his fastest 5k’s to date – the IM training is starting to really pay off. I finished 45th overall with a 26:01 – not one of my fastest 5k’s but definitely one of my snowiest, so that’s something fun.
Above all of these workouts over the week I’m most proud of my participation in the Meg’s Miles initiative that had thousands of runners across the country dedicating their Saturday miles to Meg Menzies. Meg was out for a training run last Monday (Jan 13) when she was hit and killed by a drunk driver who took his eyes off the road to fool with the radio. She was only 34 years old, training for Boston, a proud member of her local running club and a mother of three. The running communities from across the country and beyond were all touched by this tragic story. This story could have happened anywhere, to any of us and we wanted to show Meg’s friends and family our support. Chrissy did a nice job telling the story on her Boston.com blog today.
With the Facebook page set up by one of Meg’s friends, we were asked to dedicate our Saturday runs (or workout) to Meg and document our miles on social media using the hashtag #megsmiles. Miles were logged throughout the country and beyond, all of us taking some time over the weekend to appreciate our lives, our health and our loved ones. Thank you, Meg, for reminding us all how blessed we are.