Summer 2015 Week 2 Training Recap

I hope to write a post with the details of my goals for the “Summer of Speed” as well as my fall marathon goals. (The latter I can explain in two words: Chicago. BQ. I will elaborate more though.)

This week went rather well and ended with a decent performance in the TR Earth Day Run 10k on Saturday, especially considering that Rome is barely a month in the rearview mirror.

Monday easy run with some hill intervals
This run was a bit of a mental battle for me after the weirdness in my left knee on Saturday’s run. I thought I might have felt something occasionally but that may have just been the hypochondriac in me. Other than that I felt great. I got in the six hill intervals on the six hills (no more, no less) on my route. Hopefully Tuesday’s speed work will be less of a mental battle.

Tuesday tempo intervals
This run was much better mentally. No knee issues at all. These intervals were tough but seemed just a touch easier than last week’s. I finished strong and loved it.

Wednesday recovery run
This run was nice and easy. I felt strong throughout. (I have got to figure out different ways of saying that. I found s bit like a broken record. 😉)

Thursday stationary bike at gym
This ride is nice and easy with a little sprint at the end. I enjoyed it and also enjoy the fact that I got in the distance as well.

Friday easy run with a few moderately hard efforts
This run was nice and easy with a couple pickups, nothing too hard in advance of the 10k Saturday. I felt really strong throughout this run, got into a really good rhythm.

Saturday TR Earth Day Run 10k
I may have crashed and burned a bit towards the end but I still got not only the overall win but also a just over 1 minute PR. For a race originally intended to be just a race for April and to kickstart my Summer of Speed, I’ll take that.

Sunday rest
Not much to recap here.

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TR Earth Day 10k

Race #91
10k #5
TR Earth Day Run 10k #1

I had no idea how this race would actually unfold once we were off. I definitely learned some important lessons. Before getting to them I’m going to back up to pre-race.

The weather did not cooperate for the inaugural race after the move from Greer to Travelers Rest. (I have so many good things to say about the new course but I’ll tackle that at another time.) The forecast called for pretty steady and significant rain. Thankfully this steady rain did not start until just as the half started, 10 minutes before the 10k. I was able to get my 20 minute warm up in without getting significantly wet. I did wear the race shirt over my race day gear so I wouldn’t be totally soaked.

I’ve been a tad concerned about my left knee because it’s been doing odd things this week, nothing painful, just something to be aware of. I had no issues today.

As I approached the car with about 9 minutes before the start I began to panic a little because I heard Ed Hughes over the loudspeaker counting down to the start. As I scrambled to get my phone and headphones which I’d left in the car Mom reminded me about the half marathoners. Pause. Take a deep breath. We’re okay.

We waited a couple minutes before heading up to the Pavilion area for another few minutes before heading to the start, in the rain. (For those counting this is my second race in a row in the rain. Not only that but it is also my second race in TR in a row in the rain. Remember the Resolution Run Half last year? I hope this is not a trend.)

With only seconds to spare I got right up to the start line. Only a few guys and one girl were ahead of me.

With a slightly odd countdown (Ed counted down while getting on his bike to lead the 10k) we were off.

I love starting at the front of the pack. Since this was a small race I knew that my aggressive pace stood a chance of winning or at the very least being close to the front. In the back of my mind I made my goal winning. My main goal was trying to hold onto the 7:19 pace my training plan called for. I accomplished one of those goals.

Within the first few tenths of a mile I had settled into a comfortable second place for women. It felt great to fly and my pace was definitely a bit too fast here. I also noted that we were heading down hill very close to the finish. Uphill finish. Great.

For a half mile in the middle of the first mile I ended up running side by side with a guy but the pace was too fast for my 7:19 goal so I focused on that instead of trying to keep up with him. At this point I also switched my Garmin screen to lap data which is great for monitoring average pace.

I could see the only other woman up ahead of me and slowly started to reel her in.

Mile 1: 7:19 (how’s that for on the dot?)

The second mile was fairly uneventful. This was the only complete mile on the Swamp Rabbit. It also had an uphill but I’m used to this one. My pace slowed a little but not much.

Mile 2: 7:22

After approximately 2.5 miles we entered the Furman campus. I knew from looking at the course map that we would be running a bit on the campus but I underestimated just how much and how just how hilly this section would be.

Shortly after entering campus I passed the first place woman. The gap between us had gotten progressively shorter quickly. She faded fast.

I had that first place position. Now I needed to hold onto it. This was where the race got hard, fast.

Mile 3: 7:26

This section of the course is gorgeous and so tortuous. The hills are not significant; they’re just unrelenting. My pace slipped quite a bit during this section and I wondered just how much and how fast I was going to fade. I told myself that I wasn’t going to let that happen though. I don’t remember many details from the next few miles except that it was difficult and rainy.

Mile 4: 7:53

We wound around the campus quite a bit before exiting out the side gate, heading up a short, significant incline and back onto the trail. I loved being back on the trail because I knew we would get a bit of down hill soon. I also knew approximately how much of the course remained. What I did not know was how far back second place was behind me. I have a new appreciation for people who can go out and lead a race from wire to wire.

I did not stop at any of the water stops. At the last one, the guy just in front of me did. I was a bit perplexed as to why he did not pass me again soon after. Apparently he was just a short distance behind me for this part, pacing off me.

Mile 5: 7:48 (marginally better…for a little bit through there I thought I might royally positive split this race)

By the time the last mile rolled around I was sucking wind big time. My legs simply had almost nothing left. I really wanted to pick up the pace more than the little that I managed to do.

With about half a mile or so to go I saw a photographer and did my level best to pick up the pace and look somewhat pleasant for the picture. That carried over for a tenth of a mile or so.

That runner I mentioned earlier passed me and said something about 1 left. I don’t know what he said though so I wondered if he meant a mile left and hoped that I just misinterpreted him. I think I did.

Soon we saw the welcome turn off the trail that meant we were even closer to the finish. (This may have been where I saw the photographer but my brain was so foggy I have no idea.) This also meant that we had a nice little uphill finish. My favorite! (*sarcasm)

Mile 6: 7:44

I saw the turn into the park and breathed a sigh of relief. I had the win in the bag. I even put on a bit of a sprint at the end to make it look good.

Last .2: don’t have an accurate split because I didn’t turn the Garmin off right away…whoops

The steady downpour made the win a bit anti-climactic but I’ll take it anyway.

So…I got my first win (and minute PR)…a little before I planned. Whoops. :)

I can’t wait to do it again, especially when I (hopefully) can run a well-executed race. I foresee a bit of hill training in my future.

Oh! Mom did really well too! She almost without trying snagged a 2.5 minute PR looking strong at the finish!
Mom and Alan Finishing 4

On to the rest of the Summer of Speed!

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Summer 2015 Week 1 Training Recap

Even though the calendar says that it is still spring, I am titling this segment of training with the fairly generic “Summer 2015.” I have a few races sprinkled through the summer before I start marathon training again so it made sense to label the training with the time period rather than the race name.
Also…with all the rain that we’ve had lately I’m seriously hoping that it’s just an anomaly and not a forecast of what’s to come with the rest of the summer. I hate running through spider webs!

Monday easy run
This run went really well. We ran inside to avoid a potential repeat of last week (getting drenched with half a mile to go). This run was nice and easy as prescribed.

Tuesday fartlek run
I would have preferred go do this fartlek run outside but the heavy downpour kept me inside. My legs felt pretty sluggish for the first 10 or 15 minutes but I was able to settle in to a good pace after that and finish strong.

Wednesday recovery run
I was really looking forward to running outside today but the rain had other ideas for me. This run was nice and easy. I felt strong throughout.

Thursday stationary bike
This ride was good. I got the RPMs up a bit and enjoyed the little bit more mileage that I got. My left knee still protested when I sat up on the bike but it wasn’t a big deal because I stayed in the other position most of the time. (I am clearly not a cyclist. I have no idea what the position names are. 😊)

Friday really hard intervals
I knew this run would be tough when I saw it on the plan. I pushed to the limit on each interval even when I thought I couldn’t. This run was fun!

Saturday long run
I did not enjoy this run. There was not much left in my legs after Friday. On top of that, after about 30 minutes or so my left knee (and thigh-ish) felt weird for most of the rest of the run. It never hurt but I was definitely aware of it. I’m hoping that it’s nothing serious and that it’s just a combination of running long after pushing harder than I have in a while and that rest Sunday will take care of it.

Sunday rest
I took this rest very seriously just in case there is something going on with my left leg. I want to play this smartly.

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A Recovery Week of Training

I have yet to decide if I’m going to label the weekly recaps that I will publish this summer since I have a few goal races (short and speedy) this season. (Post to come.) As it is, I’m going to consider the past week the last week of marathon recovery and will be diving back into training in the coming week.

I’ve never taken quite this long to recover from a marathon but judging by how good I feel by the end of the week I know that it was the right thing to do.

Monday easy run
This run was nice and easy, like prescribed. The inner thigh thing didn’t bother me. I was wary pretty much the whole time but thankfully it was on its way out.

Tuesday easy run with 3 moderate intervals at end
This run felt great, first one since the marathon. I felt strong throughout even on the moderate effort intervals at the end.

Wednesday easy run
I definitely felt the previous 2 days running. I felt good though. This run was nice and easy like prescribed, nothing extraordinary.

Thursday stationary bike
This ride went well. I loved the new bikes. It’s pleasant when the equipment works like it should. The time did not pass as quickly as normal since I chose a podcast instead of reading a magazine or watching something on Hulu. Still, overall I felt great.

Friday easy run with 3 moderate intervals near end
This run went a little different than planned thanks to a sudden rainshower in the last two or three minutes of the run. I felt great during that final sprint. :-) Otherwise, I think it’s ridiculous that it’s 70° with over 70% humidity in April.

Saturday long run
This run was amazing. It did take a little while, about 10 minutes or so, to get going at the start. I also realized that I definitely should have put a little sunscreen on since there’s no shade on the route I chose. I should get into the habit of that. Beside a little additional heat thanks to the later start, the weather was almost perfect this morning. I loved the run and felt incredibly strong even at the end when I pushed the pace a little. I felt like I could have kept going for several more miles.

Sunday rest
I don’t mess around with rest. I filled the day with church and scrapbooking.

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Rome Marathon Race Review

It’s been two weeks since the race. (What?) I figured I should get this review up before I forget the details. It’s also important to clarify that this is a review of the race itself and all its components, not a recap of my performance. I already did that.

Registering for and participating in an international marathon in a country that speaks an unfamiliar (to me) language can be intimidating, especially to a novice. I would not recommend this marathon to a first time marathoner. (Everyone should do it though and obviously run more than one marathon.)

As I started this journey about a year ago I tried to make note of things that would be helpful to share in a review, things I learned, mistakes I made and etc.

This review will be a combination of general tips and a review of the specific marathon put on on March 22, 2015.

Registration:
This was the most confusing part for me. Most international marathons require additional paperwork from foreign participants. (American marathons may do the same but I have yet to encounter anything.) The Rome Marathon required either a running club membership card or a completed health form with physician’s signature and stamp. I went the route of the health form. Even though I am a member of the Greenville Track Club, I do not have a membership card. Running clubs in Europe are also structured differently than many American clubs. Since I do not understand them I won’t try to explain. Regarding the health form, I believe that many doctors in Europe must have an official stamp, like that of a notary public. In my case, my doctor used a stamp that had the name and address of the entire practice.

This form must be submitted and verified before one’s registration is complete. This is where I got nervous. Navigating the website, especially the registration portion, was a bit of a nightmare. The organization’s lack of timeliness in responding to inquiries during this time was unsatisfactory. I got two emails indicating that the mailbox for the official email was full and that the message could not be delivered. It wasn’t until I took to their Facebook page and inquired about my registration status that I received confirmation that my registration was complete.

Do not discard the health form. I had to present it at the expo to withdraw my bib and race packet.

Travel to country:
Be sure to arrive at least two days before race day. It was a bit of a logistical hurdle at work but worth it. One never knows when an airline strike (including air traffic controllers) will leave one stranded in Frankfurt because no flights are entering the entire country of Italy, all day.

True story. I found out eight hours before my light left Charlotte about the cancellation. This led to a mad scramble resulting in train tickets taking us from Frankfurt to Rome including a night train.

While this was far from ideal, I had enough of a cushion that I was still able to attend the Expo. The Marathon did allow for some race day pick up because in addition to an Alitalia strike there was a Lufthansa strike. That’s a point in their favor.

Expo:
For foreign competitors unable to use their phones without outrageous charges, designate a place to meet your family member before you enter the participants’ entry line. I did not do this and ended up making an anxious call to my dad when I realized that he had my ID on him. I also could not find him when it came time to enter the vender portion of the expo.

Since I did not print my confirmation letter ahead of time, oops, they printed it for me. This was a fairly painless process and did not take long at all. Shirt and bib retrieval went really well also, very organized.

I’ll briefly mention the swag I received. In total I received a New Balance shirt with “All Roads Lead to Rome” on the back, a logo backpack to use for bag drop, plenty of samples and a full bag of tried pasta. I had to laugh at that one.

I tried to find my dad at this point but when I couldn’t, tried to find the exit. This took far too long. Perhaps if I had been able to find him it would have been more enjoyable. That being said, I am not a fan of the expo organization that herds participants past all the booths. This particular expo had to be one of the most confusing. I kept turning a corner expecting to see an exit only to be led through another corridor of booths. It definitely did not suffer from lack of size.

Pre-race:
It’s hard to beat a warm up area in front of the Colosseum, even in the rain. Speaking of the rain, it’s a good idea to prepare by bringing a trash bag, extra ziplock baggies and a biggie of rice, just in case. Finding all those things in a foreign country could have been difficult.

There were a good number of porto-potties, although bringing your own toilet aper and nose plugs is highly advisable. By the time you make a second trip those things are rank. I watched several ladies in the line next to me walk in and then right back out, not caring about the line.

Corral set up was the best I’ve experienced. The entire bib, not just a portion, were color coded by corral. Before entering the bib is checked. The you walk along a section of pavement separated from the later corrals by fencing that opens up into the specific corral. No line jumpers here.

I can’t speak to the pre-race announcements because I have no idea what he was saying.

Course:
This is a fabulous course. I wish it hadn’t been raining and that I had been just a little more aware of my surroundings.

Most of the scenic spots are located in the first and last 10km. (The course is marked in kilometers with the addition of 10, 15, and 20 mile markers.) The cobblestones are a little more taxing that regular pavement but not significantly more so in my opinion. Even when wet with rain they weren’t too much of an issue. Elevation change is also practically non-existent. There is one “hill” around mile 18 and one somewhere between miles 21 and 22.

Water stops/refreshment stations
The race provides water in bottles and cups. For some reason the ratio of bottles to cups increases towards cups as the race progresses. Electrolytes are called “salts.” The stops are well marked with signs. The volunteers are not exceptionally vocal.

The race also has several sponge stations. In the rain, these stations seem pointless. Regardless, watch the ground in these sections to avoid stepping and slipping on a discarded sponge.

I believe there was medical support on the course. However, since I did not make use of it I do not know where it was located or its adequacy or lack thereof.

Spectators:
This makes or breaks some people’s race. Not mine. Unlike what some reviewers mentioned, there were plenty of spectators, mainly in the city center, even on the rainy day. Be on the watch, however, for tourists crossing the path. There are plenty. I had one woman cross directly in front of me making me stutter-step to avoid tripping over her rolling suitcase. I had shouted “No! No! No!” at her as I saw her start to cross but to no avail.

Finish/Post-race:
Running through the piazza in front of the capital building towards the Colosseum is awesome. Definitely motivating.

Immediately after finishing I was handed my medal. No ambiguity there. (One review I read mentioned some lack of organization at this point. I did not see it.) I also grabbed a 1.5l bottle of Gatorade with a flip top opening. They really need to see Gatorade bottles like this in the states! I also got a bag with another (smaller) bottle of Gatorade and other goodies.

The walk back to the exit was extremely long, way too long. we had to walk past all of the left luggage trucks where several men took the opportunity right there to strip down and change. I’m pretty sure it took me close to 15 minutes just to exit. It was likely longer due to how slowly I was walking at that point.

Photos/Video:
The video is not as impressive as I thought it would be, not worth paying for. Searching for photos was rather difficult until I realized that the marathon opens the search before all of the photos have been posted. The finish line photos must be searched for by finish time. They do not sort those according to bib number.

Conclusion:
Even with the quirks I would definitely recommend this marathon for American participants. Just plan to do your sightseeing afterwards, slowly.

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Rome Marathon Race Recap

Race #90
Marathon #7
International Marathon #1
Rome Marathon #1

The BQ hunt continues. I thought I would get that out of the way at the start. I got a whole lot closer though. That comes later. (This might be a long one with few pictures because the official pics won’t be up until tomorrow.)

To start, there were a couple things working against me. One, I did not get great sleep on Thursday and Friday night. (Saturday’s was great, thankfully.) Two, it was raining. There’s something about international races and rain for me. (Remember the 10k in Warwick back in 2011?) I was not happy about the rain prospects as Dad can attest to.

I came prepared though. With a plastic baggie around my phone, a trash bag over my head (with self-made holes for my head and arms) and an umbrella I was “ready” to head out. (Side note: a British guy in the hotel lobby saw my trash bag and asked the receptionist if they had something like that in the kitchen maybe.)

We left a little earlier than we could have but I didn’t mind that much. Having the Colosseum as a backdrop while waiting to start the race was too cool.

Me pre race

Dad and I parted with about 40ish minutes to go before the start. I hated having to give him my umbrella but since I need that after this trip it was then or never.

Getting through the small opening in the gate was ridiculous. Everyone was all smushed up against each other, literally, and quite comfortable with pushing and shoving each other. At one point I said “Oh. My. Word.” The lady in front of me turned around and nodded in agreement. She said something in English back which I can’t remember, just the fact that I happened to be right behind an English speaker.

After another trip to the portopoties I made it up to corral B, the one just behind the elite and sub-seeded start. On the long-ish walk up to the start a whole bunch of guys were almost sprinting to get up there. It made me wonder just how close to the start it was. Thankfully I had about 8 minutes.

I ditched the trash bag around 3 minutes later and waited for the start. It’s an odd feeling standing there listening to the announcements but understanding not a word of them.

At 8:50 on the dot we were off and less than a minute later we crossed the start line. I started my playlist a few seconds before and once we were out of the starting area I could hear the song I had chose to start this off. It’s pretty heady to run past these amazing buildings in the heart of Rome listening to “I owned every second that this world could give. Saw so many places. The things that I did.” Yeah, I knew it would be a great way to start.

Going into this race I considered all that I had put on my plate and wondered if it was such a wise idea to have an ambitious goal in a place like this, if it would keep me from enjoying the sights. I think I made the right decision though. I’m not ready to run a marathon without an ambitious goal yet.

The first water stop was a near nightmare. This marathon stationed the water stops every 5k. If one planned well, this is just plenty. (The lack of more water stations is a frequent complaint on its marathonguide page.) I read one review that mentioned that these water stops offered bottles of water. I decided against my hand held and decided to take water at every stop and try out the water bottle. This was such a great decision. The bottle had an indentation at just the right point that made it feel almost like I was holding my hand held. The nightmare part came when I realized that they also had cups out and I had passed the bottles. I doubled back a few steps to grab one and got slammed into by a guy who so graciously helped himself to the bottle I was reaching for. Thankfully there was no lasting damage.

I’ve run big races before but have never had any collisions. In this race alone I had the above plus a guy hitting my arm with his own arm on the downswing, at least two people stepping on my feet/shoes and other guy putting his hand on my waist in a gentle motion that felt way too intimate. (He was just letting me know that he was next to me so that I wouldn’t run into him but still…)

Post water stop collision, my mind was not in a good place. My body felt great but I was struggling deeply mentally. As I am now several hours separated from that place I’m not really sure of what I was thinking but I do know that it had me seriously considering abandoning the fast pace and just jogging it in.

Instead of giving in to that voice I told myself to make it to the half-marathon point while still chasing an 8:10 pace before re-evaluating. I wasn’t too much of a fan of that idea but I’m glad I kept pushing.

Around 12km or 13 we entered the Vatican. Amazing. I knew it was something important from the sheer grandeur of the buildings but it wasn’t until I read the words on one of the buildings that mentioned “Pontifex” that I realized where we were. I felt a bit giddy realizing that I was running through the courtyard where people gather to see the Pope.

Once I got to the halfway point I actually felt pretty good and very thankful that I hadn’t given in to the negative thoughts earlier. It was about this point where a guy got my attention and while pointing to his hand said “Agua? Water?” I could not figure out what he wanted with the bottle I had just gotten at the last refreshment station so I just handed it to him. He took it, poured some in his hand and then threw it onto his face before handing the bottle back to me. After a quick “grazi!” he was off. Okay then.

I felt great through the next section even through mile 20. (I’m not sure what miles these were exactly because I was purposefully avoiding looking at the total distance on the Garmin and all I had to look at where the kilometer markings. I loved these by the way. It’s a much more manageable distance than a mile.)

When I took my last gel at mile 18 (I took them every six miles) I knew that would be my last one. It took way too long to get down and I knew it would take even longer at mile 24 if I tried.

At 32k, aka with 10k remaining, I decided that I would put the hammer down just a bit. I don’t think my pace improved that much but I might been riding a bit of a high because barely 2k later I hit the wall, hard.

My legs started hurting, really hurting. As soon as that started I flipped the Garmin screen to clock and ran to finish as strong as I could. I had already come to the realization that a BQ was probably out of the picture, not by much but by just enough that continuing to chase it would have been futile. I’d also already established a ranking of goals. From easiest to hardest: PR with a qualifying time for Chicago (sub 3:45), break the 3:40 barrier, qualify for Boston (sub 3:35) and the reach goal of 3:33.

I kept telling myself that I did not come to this race to do less than my best no matter how hard it felt or how much my legs hurt.

I also tried to keep counting down the kilometers. Soon, but not soon enough, we were at 7k to go. (I skipped the last water stop.) I never saw the 36km (6k to go) marker. I kept hoping to see it so I could stop telling myself less than 7k to go. It was such a relief to see 37km. Only 5km left. I can do this. I never saw the 39km marker either so was overjoyed to see 40km. Only 2 km to go!

Then came 41km. We turned onto a street that I recognized from last night’s dinner. We were so close! I looked at the time then and saw 3:38:xx and wondered if I had enough left to get under that finish line before the clock turned over to 3:40:xx.

I know it didn’t look like a sprint but it sure felt like one.
Mission accomplished
Screenshot 2015-03-22 14.15.01

Also…this is how I looked like at the end, a bit like a drowned rat
me just after finishing

Just like that I was done! Also, I was amazed at just how quickly (first step) it became incredibly difficult to move forward in any manner.

Since this post is already incredibly long I won’t go into details about the incredibly long walk back to the exit. I will mention the incredibly large and delicious Gatorade we received as well as a full goodie bag. Also, European men do not have the same sense of modesty as many other places. As we passed the left luggage trucks I happened to see several men that felt that out in public was the perfect place to strip down to their underwear and change. #wheninrome

When I made it to the exit I was thankful for two things. One, Dad was right there. Two, he’s fairly tall. I’m so glad I didn’t have to go looking for him.

We, slowly, back towards the Colosseum so I could get the post race picture I wanted.
me post race

And just for kicks, here are my splits. (No, I did not mean to rhyme.)
Screenshot 2015-03-22 14.03.36
Screenshot 2015-03-22 14.04.17

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Rome Marathon: Pregame 

“Going to a new level is scary even if workouts show if you are there. In races, be committed. Be brave. That’s where the PRs live.” –Greg McMillan via Twitter

I got chills when I first read that tweet last Tuesday. In less then 140 characters, Greg defined where I am before this race and gave me the motivation to really go for this coming Sunday.

I am going into this race better prepared than I have been for any of my other marathons with the possible exception of San Francisco. With Spinx I had no idea how to properly train for a marathon. I decided to run New River only eight weeks out. My long runs for Savannah were some of the worst I’ve ever had. (I ended up racing better than I expected but I still hit the wall hard to run mile 17 and 18.) training for San Francisco it really well but my body have not adjusted to higher mileage. Marine Corps Marathon got derailed by a last-minute injury. I also expected much more out of identical training to San Francisco. Twin Cities also almost got derailed by injury and ended up getting sent back a slight decrease in intensity to avoid a full-blown hamstring injury.

Two things strike me as I look back at the previous paragraph. One, it’s crazy that I run so many marathons it still feel a bit like a newbie. Two, it’s nearly impossible to have a perfect training cycle. Okay, there’s actually three observations. Three I’ve been dissatisfied with my performance in only one marathon, Marine Corps.

Bringing it back to Rome. 

I really want to qualify for Boston. Before starting this training cycle, I analyze my previous training so I can isolate when I needed to work on most. Two things jumped out at me: long runs in tempo runs. Both improvements oil down to one thing. I had to stop giving myself excuses. Unless I was dying there was no way I would and the tempo run or turn it into intervals. I would take that same mindset to long runs. 10 minute intervals at slightly faster than marathon pace at the end of an 18 miler are crazy; I can do them.

I kept finishing long runs incredibly pleased and amazed with my effort. I mentioned this feeling in nearly every weekly training recap.

Confidence boost came with Hilton Head. Without training specifically for the half, I meant and surpassed my goal feeling, comparatively, fresh as a daisy. I still can’t believe how good I felt after smashing my PR by four minutes when snagging and PR by only a few seconds in San Francisco last year left me feeling a bit like death warmed over. That’s when I realize just how effective those tempo runs have been.

That leaves me now facing the land of no excuses. I no longer have a training cycle between me and the big BQ attempt. I have no random injury or lackluster just meaning to give myself as an excuse come race day. 

I had a mantra for Hilton Head, “sub 140 or bust.” I didn’t lineup at the starting line to take it conservatively. Every time at home had that I felt like backing off I reminded myself of that mantra. That’s what I want for Rome. 

It’s time to be committed. It’s time to be brave. I want to be with the PRs live.

To make it even better, I making the One Republic song, “I Lived,” The first song on my marathon playlist. With lines like “I did it all./ I don’t every second/that this world could give/I saw so many places/the things that I did” and the Coliseum behind me, how could I ask for a better motivation?

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