Sunday, December 23, 2018

Up Next. . .

Before I start talking about my future race plans, I'll briefly recap my recovery and my final reflections on the Rehoboth Beach Marathon.

The Perfect Weekend
If someone were to ask me to describe the "perfect" weekend, I would say it would have to include the following:
  • Greg
  • Friends
  • Take place somewhere beautiful, like a beach
  • Plenty of good restaurants/food options
  • Nice accommodations with a comfortable bed
  • Good weather 
  • A marathon in which I PR, and feel good enough to celebrate afterwards
  • Blogging to capture it all
So when I think about two weekends ago, it was about as close to perfect as it gets. It was like a mini-vacation with Greg and friends that also involved a marathon in which I crushed my goals. The food
PR Cake
was amazing. The beach view was gorgeous. The three of us friends hadn't gotten together as a group in over ten years! I think it's important to take time to recognize all of this and be grateful for my health, my husband and my friends. And the fact that sometimes I luck out with the weather.

My shoulders, which hurt more than my legs after the race, felt more normal about 48 hours after the race. However, I think I strained them pretty badly, as it's harder than it should be to lift heavy things in certain ways. 

When walking around, all of the lingering soreness had disappeared three days after the marathon. But I stuck to my coach's plan and took 8 full days off. My first run back was on Monday of this week, and it was 30 minutes easy. It felt stiff and awkward and I had minor aches here and there, but nothing significant. I ran 30 minutes again on Tuesday and it felt much better.

I ran every day this week, with my longest run being 60 minutes at a pace of 8:30. That run felt pretty good, but I could feel my legs beginning to tire during the last five minutes. Somehow my coach magically knows exactly the right amount time for me to run!

I've slept really well for the past two weeks, and I've found that when I am not in marathon training mode, I have a ton of energy to do stuff around the house. So I cleaned out a bunch of closets, organized areas of the house that haven't been organized in over 8 years, and became super productive. Since it's the holiday season, there has been no shortage of sweets and alcohol, so I've been indulging pretty heavily! It's been a fun two weeks just basking in the joy of my race and having the time and energy to do stuff I've been "meaning to" do for a long time.

Spring Race Plans
Holiday party: stayed up until 1:00am!
Last October, I signed up for the Sugarloaf marathon as my goal race. My initial thinking was to find the coolest possible marathon in mid-may so that I would be done with racing at that point for the season and then take June, July, and August as very easy months. Greg also signed up for it, and so did our friend Chad. It's supposedly a beautiful race in the mountains of Maine and the three of us are staying at a cute mountain condo.

But then, I had second thoughts as to if I really wanted that to be my goal race. Even though I was committed to doing it, I could drop down to the 15K option, or run the marathon as a "fun run." Initially when I had done my research, I learned that the average low for the day was 42 degrees. Pretty good! But then, last week, I did more research and realized that the sun rises at 5:00am, and the race starts at 7:00am, and is not shaded. So the average temperature at start time is actually around 50 degrees. And it just gets warmer from there.

Now, if it's overcast or rainy, that would be perfectly fine, and of course you can never truly predict the weather. But I realized that if it was sunny, or even partly sunny, I would probably be screwed with that 7:00am start. In Rehoboth beach, it was in the mid 30's and partly sunny, and I would not have wanted it to be much warmer. As I've gotten older, I have become more and more sensitive to the heat so my coach and I agreed that I should try and pick a goal race earlier in the season with a good chance for cool temperatures.

There were quite a few constraints. I didn't want to do a race that required a flight, since I'm already flying to Sugarloaf. We have a trip to NYC planned in mid-April, so that weekend was out. Greg is registered for the One City marathon in Newport News the first weekend in March, and I have a half marathon bib for that, so that was a factor too. Ultimately, I narrowed it down to these two options:

Option 1: B&A Trail Marathon the last weekend in March
With this option, I would be able to run the One City Half marathon as an all-out tune-up race, since it would be 4 weeks prior. I would have 16 weeks in between marathons, which would be plenty of time. The B&A Trail marathon is less than 2 hours away from my home, and I've run it twice before. I would not be able to run the Cherry Blossom Ten-Miler, though, as it takes place on the following weekend.

Option 2: Shamrock Marathon on March 17th
With this option, I would run the One City half marathon as part of a longer run (20-22 miles) and have 14 weeks between marathons. I would be able to run the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler three weeks later, although I wouldn't be in peak condition.

I went back and forth between these options. I think that I have a better shot at a faster time at B&A because I'd have two more weeks to train, and there is less chance of that race being windy. It's also easier to get to than Shamrock, which is about a 3.5 hour drive. I would also have the opportunity to run a tune-up half marathon, and I wouldn't have that with Shamrock because there aren't any half marathon options in mid-February within driving distance.

So, I was leaning toward B&A because that seemed like the smarter option. BUT, I just couldn't get excited about it. And I felt kinda bummed that B&A meant no Cherry Blossom, when I already had my special seeded bib. And then I pictured myself registering for Boston and selecting my BQ race, and it would be "the B&A marathon" (provided that I PRed) just like it was for the 2016 race. And something about that just felt kinda "blah." Been there, done that.  I have already run a great race on that course.

I have unfinished business with the Shamrock Marathon, given my two DNFs in 2010 and 2012. And it would be exciting for me to run really well in that race. Ironically, I DNF'ed in 2010 due to the heat, and I'm now seeing it as an attractive option because of its low probability of being too warm. But, considering that the average race temperature is typically in the low 40's, I'm not going to worry about that. Any race can be unseasonably warm and the best I can do is look at the probability of that
Shamrock Marathon 2008 in 3:51
happening. The race will likely be windy, but I will take wind over heat any day.

So, Shamrock it is, because it's the more exciting option! If I was really dead-set on getting a PR I think I would have gone with B&A, but since I just got a big PR, now I want the satisfying feeling of running strong at Shamrock. For the record, though, I did run a great marathon at Shamrock in 2008-- it was a PR by 5 minutes! And that was the race that made me believe I could qualify for Boston if I trained hard enough. So, it's not all bad memories and mojo at that race. Plus, I set a huge half marathon PR there in 2016, so more recently the race has good mojo! And . . . if that weren't enough, the race falls on March 17th this year so I should have the luck of the Irish on my side.

Between now and then I have a 5K on New Year's Day (which I am using mainly as a way to get back into the feeling of pushing hard) and then a 10K in February. As I said earlier, I will run the One City half marathon as part of a longer training run. Regarding Sugarloaf in May, I will definitely be participating in that event in one way, shape or form.


  1. Very excited about what I'll be reading from you in the coming year. Whatever it is, you have a fan base who admires you're hard work and effort and I'll speak for everyone in saying we're all proud of you!!

  2. I think you made the right decision, not choosing Sugarloaf as your goal race. Wouldn't there be altitude to deal with too? Plus, you get to run Cherry Blossom! I'm going to be there! I'd love to meet you. I hope we can make that happen.

  3. Excited to see how Shamrock goes, and your decision makes sense. Why risk a hot marathon, especially given your health concerns in the heat? And your fitness shows that you won't have any problem with the timing, so earlier in the year just sounds smarter for you.

  4. Well in my humble opinion not just a perfect weekend, but a "perfect running season" if you consider what you ran at Boston in April, then smokin' this last one in 3:15! I believe I said it before, you are doing the best running of your career and it no reason why your superb performances won't continue into next year. Smart listening to your coach and take the 8-days off and resuming, do what he tells you! He got you to a point you could crush a marathon with a 3:15:34, so keep following what he says in the recovery phase! Most of all, I like your reasoning leads you to head back to Shamrock, and finish unfinished business. You don't have to marathon PR there, just run a superb effort in that 3.5 or sub range, or whatever environ condtions permit. I think your XMas came early at Rehobooth! Keep on running...keep on bloggin!