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Big Girl Pants

Well, really big girl running shorts, I guess. For the past 6 weeks, I’ve been running a lot in training for the Santa Rosa Marathon in August. This past weekend, I ran a 5k and decided I needed to see how hard I could push it. Since I’ve never run for speed before, it was a real challenge for me to come in at 27:42. I am thrilled with that time, but I learned a lot about real racing in that experience.

Maybe this is obvious to everyone but me, but in order for me to run at the wickedly fast 3:45 marathon time I’ll need in order to qualify for Boston, I’m going to have to be uncomfortable…a lot…for a long time. 3 hours and 45 minutes is a long time to do anything but it’s especially long time to maintain my fastest possible running speed. So it’s time to put on my big girl running shorts and train like I mean it.

You see, I’ve always run for pleasure. I love ticking off the miles, chatting with my running buddy and seeing the beautiful views. I’ve truly never pushed myself outside of that comfort zone. What I realized this weekend is that in order to qualify for Boston, I’m going to have to get really uncomfortable!

Last Wednesday was the end of my hill repeat workouts. To assuage my concerns that I wasn’t doing enough with those, I reread the hill repeat workout instructions. Unfortunately, I had vastly underestimated the distances I was supposed to be putting into those workouts. While I ran up and down a really steep hill for the number of times indicated on my plan, I ignored the part that said the hill should be one quarter mile long. I have no idea how long the actual is that I trained on but I do know that my hill workouts totaled about 2.5-3.0 miles. The training plan software I just downloaded says those workouts should have been about 5 miles. Whoops.

Since Wednesday hills are a thing of my past, I’m not going to worry about them anymore. Yesterday’s workout was listed as a 8X200 track workout. That means, after a 1-2 mile warm-up, run super fast half-way around the track, followed by another half-track distance recovery and repeat, 8 times.

I made the family dinner, set the table and even opened a bottle of wine. When my love walked in the door, the kiddos were ready to eat and all he had to do was sit them in their seats (and issue a time out to one cantankerous child but nothing is perfect). I was so proud of my super–wifey achievement…like Donna Reed, right?

I set out running just before 7pm.

This is what the days look like in Northern California right now. Freaking glorious.

With an afternoon like this, I figured I'd be fine running in the evening. I was right from a weather perspective - it was super warm! From a darkness perspective, it wasn't wise to run outside after 7pm.
With an afternoon like this, I figured I’d be fine running in the evening. I was right from a weather perspective – it was super warm! From a darkness perspective, it wasn’t wise to run outside after 7pm.

I was thinking that DST was on my side, which it was, but not for the amount of time I needed to be out. It quickly got dark (more on this later). I made it to the high school track, which was thankfully lit up for the Lacrosse team. I ran my 8×200 repeats. Suffice to say – track workouts are NO JOKE. I have a lot to learn about what all those lines, triangles and lane markers on the track mean, so I’m not certain that my distances were exact. My marathon qualifying time requires 8:30 min/mile. Rounding (far) down on the sprint side, I was hoping to do my 1/8 mile splits in 1 minute. The splits were roughly (I’m basing this on my memory of the stopwatch):

  1. 0:0:49:02
  2. 0:0:50:04
  3. 0:0:50:03
  4. 0:0:50:30
  5. 0:0:51:0
  6. 0:0:54:15
  7. 0:0:54:25
  8. 0:0:53:10

I’m not disappointed in those times at all. In fact, I was surprised I kept each of them under 60 seconds.

The lessons learned from last night are the following:

  1. Running hard is just that – hard. Achieving a BQ time is special because it’s difficult and that’s why everyone can’t get into the Boston Marathon.
  2. I have my work CUT OUT for me.
  3. Running after dark, especially on the trail is a terrible idea…particularly without my head lamp!

I was really scared on the way home. Once I left the track, my eyes couldn’t adjust to the dark very well. Once I got onto the (unlit) trail, I could almost not see my shoes…let alone a person standing 8 feet from me. I was glad for the Tae Kwon Do class I took recently but also knew that I had made a dumb choice and could have gotten into real trouble. Beyond the safety concerns of predatory people, dogs or other animals, I endangered myself in a simpler way – I could not even see where the trail edge was. Imagine if I had stepped off and twisted my ankle. I’d have had a half mile to walk before even getting to the nearest street/trail access point!

Lessons learned. I will be more careful about running at night. I will be more conscientious about my training plan. I have a lot of really hard work to do in order to achieve this goal. Instead of telling myself that I may not BQ this year, I need to buckle down and do the work to get there. Whether I qualify this year or not, the work I’m doing now is the money in the bank that will get me across that infamous finish line on Boylston Street.

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