Sunday, January 26, 2014

Journey to BQ - The 1st Five Weeks

I am now 5 weeks in on my training for the NJ Marathon. With 13 weeks to go I am certainly looking forward to training in warmer weather, but I am proud of how I have stuck to my plan in spite of the seemingly never-ending snow, a hectic work schedule, and nagging head cold. 

I am using the "Own It" Plan from the book Train Like a Mother by Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell. This time last year I was using the "Finish It" plan from the same book to train for my first half marathon and during the summer of 2013 I used the marathon version of the "Finish It" plan to train for the NYC Marathon. Now that my goal is to qualify for Boston I have gravitated towards the plan which is designed for improving your time, aka, "owning" the marathon. Oh boy.

Here's the overview from my first 5 weeks of training:

Out of 24 scheduled runs, I completed 23. I skipped the run on New Years Eve day and while now I'm kicking myself a bit for it I hardly think that will be the blockade between me and a BQ, so I'm over it.

I have shuffled some runs on the schedule and once in awhile gone 1 or 2 miles less than the plan called for but I have also occasionally added some get up and go so I think it has all evened out. It's no exaggeration to say that I am already in the best shape of my life and that includes when I played sports in high school.

I live in New Jersey and my training started on December 23rd. The weather has not been my friend. I did 14 of my runs on the good old treadmill (mostly at the gym although occasionally on my rickety old one with a non-working display). Seven of my runs were on the road and 2 on the trail. My most hardcore run? Ten and a half miles on the towpath at sunrise on Sunday, January 19. The temperature at the end of my run was 25 degrees, but the sunrise was beautiful.
January 19, 2014 Sunrise Run along Towpath
I have run 156.34 miles in training at an average pace of 8'41" per mile.

My cross training of choice has been yoga - both at home and whenever possible at a class near my office. I have also been planking for several minutes almost every night to increase core strength.

I got some relief from the rough northeast winter when traveling to Florida for work and took full advantage of my time there by running every day. I was only sent to the treadmill by rain once and had another lovely sunrise reward for an early run.
On a 4-miler near my hotel in Boca Raton
Lest anyone think I am spoiled by my job, I have also spent some of my winter on projects in upstate New York and have made good friends with the treadmills there.

On my long run on January 12th I had my first encounter with a stray dog. I was running downhill at the end of my 2nd time around on a 5 1/2 mile loop and noticed a dog running around in the yard up ahead. I didn't think too much of it until I realized it was a pitbull and then I realized it was not fenced in and not on a leash. The dog started running towards me in the street and so I made a quick beeline to one of the neighbor's houses. I rang the doorbell and after a quick conversation determined that the dog didn't belong to anyone he knew on the street. While we were talking, the dog had turned to go the other way so I decided to return in the direction I had come (back up the hill) and complete my run in reverse. I'm sure the extra hill work didn't hurt, but it definitely left me a little hesitant to return to the route.

On Monday, January 20 I did a 4.85 mile run that put my total mileage run since August 2012 over 1,000. Watching my Nike+ app flip to 1,004 miles after that run was cool. So was thinking about all the places I could have run to with that mileage. Chicago. Nashville. Orlando. Montreal (and back). It's amazing to think that in just over a year I have run more than 1,000 miles, completing 4 half marathons, 1 full marathon and many other races along the way. It makes me that much hungrier for my next goal.

Week 5 was a 35 mile week on my plan. Week 6 will be 39 miles. I am  hoping that I will be able to do some of those miles outside - I'm especially praying that Mother Nature is kind for the 18 miles I have on tap for my long run on Saturday. While the treadmill certainly helps me to keep my pace regulated (read slow) on my long runs, it certainly doesn't help my mood. If I can end February with a 50/50 split between treadmill and outdoors, I will consider that a training victory.

As always it's my parents and my sister Karen who consistently make my running possible. For almost every run they are the ones watching my son and for that I am so thankful. I also have an incredible support network on Twitter and in real life so on those days when I would rather just skip a run I know exactly who to go to for a swift kick in the rear. It works every time. When I cross finish lines, it's with a whole host of people pushing me and I'm so conscious of that fact.

So, 5 down and 13 to go until April 27. So far away, yet so close.

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