Friday, November 24, 2017

Turkey Trot Magic

Yesterday I ran my 12th consecutive Virginia Run Turkey Trot. I first ran this race in 2006 in a time of 23:32. It was my second ever 5K. It is now my longest standing running tradition together with Greg, who ran his 9th consecutive trot.

This race fell at an inopportune time. I had taken two full weeks off from running post-marathon to let my Achilles tendonitis heal, and when I resumed, my legs felt extremely stiff and heavy. I went pool running and swimming four times during those two weeks in an effort to maintain my cardiovascular fitness. Plus, I simply enjoy exercising and this was the most Achilles-friendly exercise I could think of.

I also continued to do my rehab exercises, which are simply heel drops using as much weight as tolerated. I discovered that I could add even more weight using the Smith machine at my office gym, and once I started doing that, I saw rapid improvement. In fact, I was 100% pain-free before, during and after my run on Monday. I wish I had discovered this machine months ago! I'll write another post soon about my Achilles tendonitis experience including what helped, and what set me back.

By the time Thanksgiving rolled around I was no longer worried about my Achilles tendonitis. Instead, I thought that my heavy legs might make it impossible for me to run fast, and there would be huge "bonk" potential. My legs felt like they were at mile 21 of a marathon during Tuesday's easy 4-miler, and I'm not exaggerating. I foam rolled and took Epsom salt baths after Tuesday's run in an effort to revitalize my legs, and hoped that they were just heavy from not having been used in so long.

Race Goals
Race morning arrived and I was excited to be racing. Given how horribly my marathon turned out, I wanted another shot at running hard, pushing myself, and staying mentally strong. Over the summer when I was doing specific 5K workouts, my goal was to be able to break 20:00 in the Turkey Trot. It was simply too hot to do that in the summer, but I thought that if I increased my 5K fitness in the summer months, it would stick with me during marathon training.

Many marathon training plans focus primarily on Lactate Threshold work and endurance, but my coach throws a healthy amount of short, high-intensity intervals as well. For example, I ran 15 x 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy, followed by 15 x 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy. And then a few weeks later I did that same workout but with 20 sets. Which comes out to a solid hour of constant on-and-off sprinting. With workouts like these frequenting my marathon training schedule, I thought that I had not only maintained my 5K fitness, but increased it.

I knew that I was in the best shape of my life in the weeks leading up to the marathon, and if I had raced a cool 5K back then, I think sub-20:00 would have been highly likely. So, on the one hand, I knew I was in excellent shape. On the other hand, I had taken two weeks off, and my legs had felt like bricks just 48 hours prior.

Ultimately, I decided I would run the race by feel, with a stretch goal of sub-20:00, but a more realistic goal of simply setting a course PR (under 20:50). If I had to predict my time, I would have guessed 20:30 if things went well, and closer to 21:00 if they didn't go well.

Before the Race
Greg and I have our "before the race" down pat! We know exactly when to leave the house, where to park, where to go to the bathroom, where to warm up, etc. We ran the warm up at a pace of around
Virginia Run Turkey Trot Start Line
8:35 and it felt more like 8:00. I actually felt really good, but I wondered if I was in for a slap in the face given that my easy pace felt "harder than easy"!

It was 32 degrees and sunny, so we warmed up with an extra layer over our long-sleeved racing shirts and then hung those clothes on a fence near the start/finish This was perfect racing weather for me, particularly since there was no wind whatsoever. What a contrast to all the crappy weather we had all fall!

Greg and I both planned to go out at around 6:30, but I knew that was highly subject to change based on how I felt. This course can be very fast if you know how to pace it. The first two miles are net uphill, and the last mile is net downhill. However, the first mile is gently rolling hills (starting with a downhill), whereas the second mile has a single large hill. And even though the third mile is mostly downhill, there are a few ups to keep you on your toes! In an ideal world, I like to run the first two miles at around the same pace, and then really hammer it home on the last mile.

Mile 1: 6:36
During this mile, I focused on just staying relaxed. Running so fast was definitely a shock to my system. I hadn't run at this pace in over four weeks, so my objective was to try and get into a groove that felt natural. Being a turkey trot, I had to pass a lot of kids during the first half mile-- the ones that go out at a pace of 6:00 for the first minute and then blow up. I'm so used to this now that I don't even see it as an obstacle.

Mile 2: 6:34
I was pleased with my pace for the first mile and feeling good, so I resolved to run the second mile at the same pace or faster. I was on track for this until the big hill came at the end of the mile. I told myself that a slow down on the hill was NOT inevitable, and I was going to maintain my pace no matter what. I decided to make myself hurt as much as possible, and do whatever it took to not slow down on that hill. Typically, my strategy is to run an even effort in races, not an even pace, but at this point, I wanted to push myself up the hill because I knew I'd be able to recover on the downhill. Plus, I was highly confident in my endurance. If I could just not lose any time up the hill, I'd be golden. And voila! I did it! It really hurt like hell the closer I got to the top, but I refused to back off the pace and it paid off.

Mile 3: 6:27
Now it was time to really gun it. I knew that I'd have to conquer two small pesky inclines, but aside from that, everything would be flat or downhill. When I was about 3/4 of the way through the mile, I glanced at my Garmin and it read a 6:34 average pace for that mile. This was not acceptable to me so I pushed even harder. I know that many people race better when they don't look at their watches, but for me, when a race is almost over, I find that looking at my pace can be a huge motivator.

The Last 0.14: (5:37 pace)
With the realization that I was going to run a really strong time, I gave it all I had to make it as strong as possible.

I finished in an official time of 20:21.

Usually during races, I am aware of the other runners and where I am relative to other women. But during this race, I was solely focused on myself. I had Greg in my sights the entire time (he ran 20:03) but otherwise, I wasn't overly aware of who I was passing or the people passing me. Because I was initially so uncertain about what would happen, I wasn't viewing this as a competition.

Anyway, even though I didn't break 20:00 I was pretty excited. My course PR was significant and I was delighted that I managed to maintain so much fitness. I titled this post "Turkey Trot Magic" because on Tuesday I felt ridiculously sluggish and heavy, but then I went out an ran a 5K at very close to my overall PR (20:17). It just goes to show you that running is truly dynamic-- some days you have it, other days you don't. It was also "magic" in that my Achilles were completely pain free before, during, and after the race. And running fast is pretty much the worst thing you can do with this injury. After the Leesburg 5K in August, I was in a lot of pain shortly after the race.

In terms of overall results, I placed 4th out of 989 women. This was a large turkey trot, so I was very happy with my placing.

Final Thoughts and Stats
I learned a lot from this race. From a physical standpoint, I think that running Monday-Wednesday really helped my legs get back into the groove of running. I'm at my best when I run 7 days a week, and take long breaks in between cycles. If I miss a day of running, I feel stale the next day. I run 30 minutes at a recovery pace every Sunday, which is enough to give my legs a rest, while keeping them used to moving. I also learned that even if my legs feel like garbage one day, they can bounce back quickly, provided I get enough sleep and do things like foam roll. Other thoughts and stats:
  • I was 1st place in the 30-39 year age group, and I am 39 years old. During the past 8 years that I've been in this age group, I have been slower. 
  • This is a course PR by 29 seconds. My previous fastest was last year in 20:50
  • I ran 4 seconds slower than my overall PR of 20:17
  • I think I paced this race perfectly
  • Given that I ran a pace of 5:37 for the final stretch, I do think I could have run the entire race slightly faster, but trust me- I was pushing really hard the whole way!
Within the course of just two days, I went from being discouraged about my running to very optimistic about kick starting the new cycle. My next race is a 5K on New Year's day, and I am now confident that I will be able to start training again without my Achilles plaguing me, and with my marathon fitness mainly intact. 

More Stats!
If you don't care about data, you can stop reading here. But I geek out on this stuff, and one of the best things about having an annual racing tradition is to compare the splits year over year. Here's a fun chart:

 Year   Mile 1   Mile 2   Mile 3  Final Kick  Time
 2009  7:25  7:44  7:37 7:1323:40
 2010  7:19 7:197:07  6:1322:33
2011  7:00 7:05 6:42 5:5721:29
 2012 7:127:157:056:1022:18
 2013  7:26 7:30  7:03 6:3822:46
2014  7:01 6:54 6:45 6:1521:30
 2015  6:43 6:43 6:35  6:0320:51
  2016     6:38    6:49   6:38  5:49 20:50 
 2017  6:36 6:34 6:27  5:3720:21

Splits from 2006-2008 are unknown because I didn't have a Garmin back then.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Nobody Cares About Your Marathon Time

Other people don't care about your race times. And that's a good thing.

They may be interested in how you do. And they may even track you during a marathon! And if you have a coach, he/she is likely personally invested in your performance. But your race time is not going to change the lives of other people. Other runners care about their races times. Any interest
they have in your race time is just that-- an interest. And a fleeting one, as they will likely not be focused on your race time the next day.

But what about the elite athletes who get press coverage? Or what about the runners who have tens of thousands of social media followers? People care about those race times, right? Not really. It's cool to scroll through the Instagram feed and see how people's races went. And it may be worthy of a conversation or two. But that's about the extent of most people's caring. I have nearly 10,000 followers on Instagram, and I don't think any of them lost sleep over my Indianapolis time. While I received an overwhelming amount of support from the running community, I know that my failure to meet my goal isn't going to change anything in their lives. And that's such a relief! Phew.

I'll caveat all of this with the statement that some people will judge you. In fact, people are probably judging you all the time for lots of things. And admit it-- you sometimes judge other people too. It's human nature to judge and to make comparisons. You can't stop people from judging you, especially if you put yourself out there. What you can stop is how you let those judgments effect you. Are you going to make decisions based on how you might be perceived? Or are you going to make decisions based on what is truly right for you. Do you value yourself based on other people's perceptions? Or do you value yourself based on your own standards?

It's easy to understand this concept intellectually. Most people know that they shouldn't care about what other people think of them. For me, the real breakthrough came when I actually felt it.

Back in the summer of 2013, I was debating whether or not to run the Chicago marathon. I had been injured for five weeks, so I was deciding between doing it as a fun run, or just bagging the whole thing. Was I going to embarrass myself yet again with another relatively slow time? Would everyone think I was crazy for considering myself to be a BQ-caliber runner? But at that moment, I was able to "catch" myself and turn those thoughts in the other direction.I realized that I was making this decision primarily based on how other people (my running friends and teammates) would perceive my time.

And that's what caused the breakthrough to happen. I realized that my time was important to me, but it was really just a small point of interest to my friends. If I ran a slow time, they might think, "oh, Elizabeth didn't do all that well," but then they would go about the rest of their day, focused on other things. And if they thought "oh, Elizabeth didn't do all that well," would it impact my life? NO. Not one bit. Let them think it! Let them think whatever they want about me because it's not going to change the decisions I make, or how I feel about my running.

Nobody cares how crappy I look here!
I've often been asked what the single biggest "a-ha" moment was in my journey to overcome race anxiety. It was this realization, which felt like like a heavy weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. It made me feel free to do whatever I wanted with my running. I was no longer afraid to run a slow time because of what other people might think. And my anxiety levels plummeted.

The stakes were now lower on race day. Every race became about my individual goals and my own unique journey. I was no longer trying to prove anything to anyone. And while I still cared about my race times, I wasn't worried about embarrassing myself if I ran slower than expected.

Nobody cares about your race time. Nobody else has put in the work like you have, and nobody else has to live with the result. After all, how much do you really care about other people's times, relative to how much you care about your own time? You probably don't lose sleep over other people's running.

Learning to accept a missed goal is a skill in and of itself, but when you are ALSO worried about other people's judgments, acceptance is nearly impossible.

How does all of this relate to the marathon I ran two weeks ago?

  • I went into the race feeling relaxed, so I don't think that my bonk was the result of race anxiety.
  • When I started to struggle, I wasn't worried that the people tracking me would see I had slowed down; I was focused on trying to push through.
  • After the race was over, I was wasn't afraid to share my experience with other runners on social media and my blog.
  • I've spent the past two weeks focused on recovering and planning out my spring season-- not trying to justify what happened to anyone.
  • I'm not looking at Boston (my next marathon) as a redemption race to prove to the world that I can, in fact, run a fast marathon. It's simply my next marathon. 

It's easy to feel pressured on race day, particularly if you are active in the running community. But other people's judgments should be the least of your concerns. Because those people simply don't care as much as you may think.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon Race Report: Riding the pain train

I'm going to kill the punch line by saying up front that this marathon went poorly for me. I wasn't even close to reaching my goal and I felt miserable for nearly half of the race.

Race Weekend
Greg and I flew into Indianapolis on Thursday afternoon. We arrived at our hotel, relaxed for a little bit, and then headed to the expo. One of the things I love about Indianapolis is that everything is so close. The expo was a five-minute walk from our hotel, and then dinner was a five-minute walk from the expo.

For dinner, we met up with my friend Anna, and spent the entire meal talking about running! Afterward, we retuned to the hotel and I was fast asleep by 8:15. The following morning, Greg and I did a 20-minute shakeout run through a park and ended at Au Bon Pain, where we procured bagels for race morning.

Throughout all of this I was oddly calm. The race was "just something we were doing" the next day. It didn't really feel like the big event was finally here. There are plusses and minuses to this. Basically, my sports psychologist has taught me to be emotion-neutral when it comes to running. While he definitely wanted me to experience all the positive emotions that come with pursuing and attaining goals, he also wanted me to temper it by acknowledging that running is just one aspect of my life, and it doesn't define me. And going into this race, I almost felt too neutral. Maybe I've mastered the art of being zen-like. Or maybe now that I've run a 3:21 marathon, I feel like I've already run faster than I ever dreamed, so running even faster is kind of redundant. I don't know.

Anyway, Greg and I had lunch with Anna, and we reviewed our race plans in detail. Greg and Anna decided they would start off together because they had similar goals. Anna wanted to break 3:26 and qualify for NYC, and Greg wanted to run somewhere in the low 3:20s. I was sticking to my plan of starting out in the low 7:30's for the first 10K, and then speeding up from there. After lunch, we walked through the hotel lobby, where I discovered that they were serving free hot apple cider. This apple cider really hot the spot. (Remember this for later!)

A few hours later, I had major digestive distress. And after going to the bathroom, I felt like I needed to lie down because I felt a little spacey. I was somewhat worried that this would impact my race, but I tried to push it to the back of my head. I ultimately began to feel more normal, so Greg and I went to dinner where we had our normal pre-race pasta with chicken.

Before the Race
My sleep was pretty typical of night-before-the marathon sleep. Solid for the first 4 hours, and then fragmented for the rest of the night. When I woke up for good, I was eager to start preparing for the race. I ate my bagel with peanut butter, put my outfit on, pinned my bib on, made my Generation UCAN gel, etc. Finally it was time to leave for the race.

After a short 3-block walk, Greg and I arrived at the start line. I did a quick jog to get my legs moving and then we entered the first corral. Everything felt good. I was ready! We met up with Anna just after the national anthem finished.

It was 46 degrees, overcast and damp/humid. Near-perfect running weather! I shed my throwaway jacket and a few minutes later, the race began.

Miles 1-5
I was not happy with how these miles went. The race was extremely crowded, the streets were narrow, and three pace groups were all merged together. The 3:15, 3:20 and 1:40 half marathon pacer were all within about 10 seconds of each other and I was stuck behind this huge mass of runners. It was more crowded than Boston for the first five miles. It was extremely frustrating because I wasn't able to pace my own race-- I was at the liberty of the crowd. And because there were so many runners blocking my view, I couldn't see where the turns and tangents were. I couldn't even get ahead of Greg and Anna for the first two miles.

We also ran under a few bridges during these miles, so my Garmin got messed up. I couldn't even see the mile markers to calculate my pace because there were so many people. Finally at mile 3, I saw the marker, and I looked down to see 23:03 on my watch. I figured that an 8 minute pace would be 24:00, so take away 3 x 20 seconds would be 23:00. Okay, that meant I was running about a 7:40 pace. Slower than planned, but not significantly. I tried not to let the crowding and inability to pace affect my mindset and mood, but it was frustrating.

Miles 1-3: 7:41 average
Mile 4: 7:29
Mile 5: 7:28

Miles 6-10
Finally after five miles I had passed the 3:20 and the 1:40 pacers, and had enough room to see the course and pace the race according to my plan. I hadn't felt all that great during the first five miles,
and I assumed it was because I wasn't able to establish a rhythm. Surely now that I could run my own
Around mile 10
race, I'd find that groove and feel good.

For hydration, the plan was to take a sip of water every 15 minutes. When I took a sip of water at 45 minutes, just before the 10K mark, I felt my left ear clog up. This was a bad sign, a very bad sign! I starting cursing inside my mind.  This "exercise-induced eustachian ear dysfunction" only ever happens to me in races when I bonk. It happened most recently at the Parks Half Marathon and at the end of a warm marathon pace run that didn't go well. Deep down I knew that this symptom, particularly so early in the race, meant that I was in for a bad day.

But the only thing to do was to ignore it. I wasn't going to let it become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I was going to keep executing my race strategy and just hope that this inner ear clogging wasn't indicative of a pending bonk.

Overall, I felt off. These paces should have felt easy this early in the race and they didn't. I briefly contemplated turning off course at mile 8 with the half marathon runners and then trying a full the following weekend in Richmond. But I quickly dismissed that thought because I didn't want another week of tapering. I wanted the marathon training cycle to be over today.

Mile 6: 7:24
Mile 7: 7:27
Mile 8: 7:25
Mile 9: 7:28
Mile 10: 7:34

Miles 11-15
I didn't worry about falling off pace during mile 10 because it was slightly uphill. But then the 7:30s became hard. I ended up taking my Generation UCAN gel about five minutes early, just so I could ditch my water bottle (I needed to drink the water with the gel). The bottle was getting really cold in my hand, and I knew it would feel better to run without the burden of carrying it. It had been a mistake to ditch my gloves at mile 5. It was getting colder instead of warmer, and this was probably a factor of being farther out from the city.

I tossed the bottle, but it didn't help matters. I was fading, and it was only mile 13. When I ran the Myrtle Beach marathon and the B & A Trail marathon (my previous two fastest) I felt really strong at the halfway point. I have enough experience to know how a marathon should feel at the halfway point, and this was not it!  I kept reminding myself that marathons have bad stretches and good stretches. You can feel bad one moment and good the next. I was trying to be as optimistic as possible, but the good stretch never came.

My half marathon split was 1:38:47, which was in line with my pacing strategy. So at least I know I executed the race according to my plan, and didn't let the crowding in the first five miles prevent me from hitting my halfway target.

Mile 11: 7:30
Mile 12: 7:33
Mile 13: 7:32
Mile 14: 7:45
Mile 15: 7:49

Miles 16-20
I was fading. And I started to feel like total crap. I got a cramp at the top of my left front ribs, below the breast bone. It hurt quite a bit. At some point, I knew Greg and Anna would catch up to me and pass me. And I knew that would upset Greg. So now it was just a guessing game on when I'd see them. They were targeting a pace of around 7:45, so I figured I'd probably see them during mile 18. When that didn't happen, I figured Greg must be running a little slower than planned.

Oddly, the point at which I would see Greg became my only focus, and I was no longer focused on my pacing strategy or my missed goal. I knew it was going to be a bonk, so I just tried to hang on as good as I could. My hands started to get really cold, and I felt chilled to the core. Either it was below 45 degrees out in the suburbs, or the fact that it was damp was making it extra chilly feeling. The forecast was for 48-50 degrees and I am never cold in those temps.

Finally I had to do it. I had to stop. I couldn't keep going. Somewhere in mile 19, a running club had put out a large jug of water and a few bottles of coke. I poured some coke into a cup because it actually looked good to me. The idea of water disgusted me, which is why I think I may have over-hydrated the day before the race. After ditching my bottle at mile 12, I didn't consume any water for the rest of the race. My stomach didn't want it and the clogged inner ear also didn't want it.

I knew that once I stopped, I would be stopping again. But it was unavoidable. I could only run for a few minutes at a time and the pain got so bad I would be forced to stop. Even though I knew that stopping would simply prolong the pain, the situation was no longer in my control.

How was I going to go another 7 miles? That seemed impossible. This was not going to be pretty.

Mile 16: 8:03
Mile 17: 8:02
Mile 18: 8:33
Mile 19: 8:36
Mile 20: 9:28

Miles 21-Finish
We ran under a fancy "20-mile" inflatable archway. Shortly after, Greg and Anna caught me. Anna was looking strong and Greg encouraged her to run ahead to go get her goal. Greg said "Wanna bonk
Mile 25
with me?" And I said "Yes!" But then I realized he was going faster than me so I told him to go ahead because I couldn't run that fast, and he did. About a mile later, though, I caught up to him. He was walking. I told him to come with me, and he replied that he couldn't run. I kept going- I was feeling a little better. But that didn't last for long, and he caught up with me. At this point, we ended up just
sticking together. We ran a bit, and then we walked. And when it was time to run again, he said he couldn't. I really wanted to get this race over with as soon as possible, and he said he didn't care if I left him, so finally I left him for good and jogged most of the way to the finish.

I didn't take in any water or fuel because I felt too nauseous to do so, and my cramp continued to be painful. My inner ear continued to feel clogged. My hands were frozen and all I wanted to consume was that apple cider from the day before. I high-fived as many people as I could just so I could touch their gloves and mittens.

Mile 21: 10:09
Mile 22: 13:05
Mile 23: 11:10
Mile 24: 9:50
Mile 25: 10:28
Mile 26: 10:25
Last 0.2: 8:57 pace

I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face. It wasn't a victorious smile, but rather "I am so glad this is over" smile. My official time was 3:43:38. Which is actually a BQ by 1:22, since I'll be 40 for the 2019 race. (I don't actually want to run Boston in 2019, but I think it's cool I still managed to BQ after such a "monumental" bonk.)

After the Race
I was shivering and was so relieved to be able to put a space blanket over myself. I waited for Greg to finish, and he didn't show up. I figured he'd be about 4-5 minutes behind me. When he didn't show up after 10 minutes, I started to get worried. Or maybe I somehow missed him? But eventually he turned up, crossing the finish line in 3:57. (Anna, by the way, had met her goal by running a 3:25). Greg's legs had totally given out and he walked for most of the last two miles.

All I could think about was that cider. I turned down all the food and water options at the finish line and Greg and I headed for the hotel lobby. But alas! There was no cider. It was the only thing I had an appetite for. My high hamstring kept seizing up during this entire walk. It was extremely painful. Meanwhile, my Achilles tendons had been silent the entire morning.

I think I need some time to truly process this, and will likely write a separate post later. My main feeling right now is "oh well, onto the next race." I'm honestly not upset. Five years ago I would have been crying my eyes out and now I have swung to the other side. I'm numb to it. Maybe I just haven't had enough time to reflect yet, and maybe I'll feel more disappointed in the days to come. Or maybe not.

Approaching the finish, determined.
While a sub 3:20 would have been nice, and I truly believe I am capable of it, it's kind of an arbitrary goal. My true goals were qualifying for (and running) Boston, and also running a marathon that was representative of my fitness level and training. I did that at Myrtle Beach. It'd be nice to have it again, but the desire isn't as strong. So the non-attainment isn't as heavy of a blow. It may sound like I'm burnt out or bored with running, but I'm not. I am still really excited about my future races and goals. And I'm still very motivated to achieve my goals. I just realize that one race doesn't make or break me as a runner. I still have a few years ahead of me to push even further before slowing down with age.

I did what I could today with what I had. And I didn't have a lot. That could be due to over-hydrating the day before, or it could be related to something I ate. It could be that I missed my peak. I know that I was in amazing shape the day of the Army Ten Miler. 10 Miles in 74 degrees + 100% humidity at a pace of 7:13 felt much better than the first 10 miles of this race-- in ideal conditions at a slower pace! This is a perfect example of an "on" day versus on "off" day. There is no way I lost fitness in the past four weeks, as I continued to train. But a 7:30 pace in ideal conditions for 10 miles hurt a lot more than a 7:13 pace in horrible conditions.

Performance is dynamic. No matter how well you prepare, you can't be guaranteed that your body will be up to task on any given day. I'm a human- I'm not a machine. That said, Greg suggested I test my over-hydration theory by drinking lots and lots of water the day before a medium-long run and seeing if my inner ear clogs as a result.

I am proud of myself for actually finishing. The thought of getting a cab to the finish crossed my mind at multiple times. I am amazed that I was able to finish given how horrible I felt when I stopped the first time during mile 19. I'm proud that I didn't freak out about the crowding in the beginning, and I didn't let the inner ear clogging affect my positive mindset. I would say that I'm proud of myself for not being upset, but it's not like I'm trying to not be upset. I honestly am just neutral feeling at the moment.

Ultimately, I know that this training cycle is part of a bigger picture. This cycle built on my Myrtle Beach cycle, and my Boston cycle will build on this cycle. I know my coach will continue to push me with higher volume and more challenging workouts. So maybe for the next one I will be in shape for a 3:10-3:15. When I bonked in Boston in 2016 (running a 3:48), my next marathon was a 14-minute PR. So I think that good things are in store for me. I need to be patient and I will be.

I'm now going to take some time off to let my Achilles tendons heal fully. They felt great during the race, and during the walk back to the hotel. But once I sat down and stopped moving for 20 minutes, and then got back up- OUCH! The left one continued to hurt pretty badly for the rest of the day. I'm not sure how long it will take, but if I am religious about doing the exercises, and avoid running, it shouldn't be more than two weeks. My three-day hiatus worked wonders, so I just need to extend that for this to hopefully permanently go away.

Thank you to everyone who's made it this far in the blog post! And who has followed my training over the past few months, or years even. I appreciate all of your support as I continue my journey.