Monday, April 25, 2011

Final Thoughts on Boston

Those who don't like it when I'm hard on myself for not meeting my own expectations may want to skip this post. I was completely unprepared to race a marathon on April 18, and Boston revealed that. A lot went wrong, and this post is about that. I am severely disappointed with my finishing time. Please don't interpret this post as detracting from the Boston experience. I had the time of my life. I was able to do something very special and I'm thankful for that. This post is about what went wrong in my training and in my race to prevent me from being in marathon PR shape on April 18.

Early Training
Ugh. I was battling a hamstring injury through November and December. I pretended that it didn't hurt, but it did. I wanted everything to come together for Boston, but it just wasn't meant to be. Then, I got the flu during the holidays. That forced me to take some time off, but I was too stubborn to take enough time off to allow my hamstring to heal, too. Remember, I was pretending that it didn't hurt.

I recovered from the flu, but because of the hamstring, I took two weeks off prior to Mountain Mist. With the flu and a two week layoff just prior, I opted to treat Mountain Mist much more like a jog/hike than a race. I ran a 6:30. That meant that I wouldn't need any recovery time before resuming training.

I was 6 weeks into my training and had gone backwards. So, I opted to punt the whole program and try for a 12 week training program instead of 18. But I wasn't at a good starting point. I had gained weight and lost speed. I had hardly done any quality work in 4 months. I was out of shape.

So I reset my expectations and restarted with a 12 week schedule. That started OK, but it wasn't long before I was struggling and inconsistent. I let some personal struggles get the better of me during this training cycle. I gutted out some tough workouts, but had more days of sleeping in and laziness. I'm hoping I'm past those personal struggles, but they really had me down. Boston certainly lifted my spirits to the point that I'm simply determined. I will run! I will run fast!

In addition to the mental struggles that were defeating me, I had more physical sickness this spring than I've ever had. (I'm not sure the mental stress and physical illness are unrelated.) I caught a stomach bug that weakened me for a week. Then, I had a case of bronchitis that had me out for another week.

Ugh.I was out of shape and not getting better. So, restarting with a 12 week program was a miserable failure. I averaged less than 50 miles per week and I was woefully inconsistent. I don't think it's possible for me to get in marathon PR shape on mileage that low, especially when the miles weren't really quality miles.

So, that's what went wrong in training. I was injured some, sick some, stressed, lazy, and for some reason unmotivated.

Race Day
So, I did take advantage of the opportunity to taper before the marathon. Why not?!? Fewer miles and more carbs? I'm in! That also meant that I was probably as heavy as I've ever been for a marathon at about 172 or so. That's pretty inexcusable, but I'm on my way down already.

Likewise, I had no goal or plan for the race. How about this for a goal... I'll just run however I feel like and hope for the best. It's not totally true that I had no goal, I had the typical 3 goals. The "A" goal was 3:05. The "B" goal was 3:15. And the avoid disaster goal was 3:30. I really thought I was in about 3:10 to 3:15 shape. It turns out that maybe I've learned a little bit about my body in the past 3 years because I ran 3:13:05. I was close to 3:10 before the come apart I had at the end.

I also used a lot of energy interacting with the crowd. I sure wouldn't change that, though.

So what went wrong on race day? I was fat, out of shape, had no plan for the race, and ran an inconsistent pace by getting excited and running fast sometimes and losing focus and running slow at other times.


rundanrun said...

Glad to hear even you have a few off months. I have been in the doldrums also and have just now gotten back into the swing. I know how weight and lack of intensity can slow you down. My 3 day a week running plan involves no junk miles and when I settle for junk miles I really lose ground. Don't be so hard on yourself because even your off races would be my PRs.

Dana said...

I am truly beginning to understand. It's the mind of the competitor. I'm not there in ability (YET), but I'm certainly getting there in my thought process. However, having grown up being trained to "do less of the wrong thing" it's been my natural tendency to focus on the negative more than the positive. I am learning to make a slight shift to "do MORE of what's right and focus on doing it BETTER". There is a subtle difference. I believe you are making that shift as well. Not beating yourself up for "being lazy" but saying's the plan for the future.

...and it could COMPLETELY be the way I'm reading is subtly shifting and has nothing to do with you at all. :D

GREAT JOB in Boston. I love your recaps-even when you're hard on yourself. Thanks for the other two posts on Boston before this one though!! :D