The barn and the (burned) boats

The barn and the (burned) boats

The past seven days have been really tough—and obviously, not just because I’m battling typical, run-of-the-mill taper tantrums and taper madness. Figuring things out and processing my sentiments after what transpired at Boston has been really, really challenging, and while I still haven’t come to any sort of peace with how I’ve tried to make sense of the tragedies that unfolded, I suppose—am hoping—that I will, in time. It is heartbreaking, my being was bruised and my soul shattered, and I felt as though my (running) family and I were all personally and communally violated on Marathon Monday, but here we are. Ultimately, I know that, in the end, the enormity and spirit of my running family far surpasses anything that tries to come between us.

A and me in our Boston blue for #chicagolovesboston and #bostonstrong
A and me in our Boston blue for #chicagolovesboston and #bostonstrong
outside a federal government branch office in Lincoln Sq.
outside a federal government branch office in Lincoln Sq.
The little one rockin' the unicorn
The little one rockin’ the unicorn

We will endure.

That’s all we know.

In other news that’s inconsequential in comparison, my marathon—Eugene, baby!–is less than week away! Last week, I found myself more terrified and anxious than excited and confident, but as race day creeps nearer, I’m leaning more toward excitement—though still, of course, with a healthy dose of fear and intimidation.

By no means am I a numbers gal—hellooooooooo, humanities—but dailymile makes it pretty easy to run the numbers on my training. With four days of running remaining before the 26.2 jaunt on Sunday, I can say that I’ve clocked more time training—and more importantly, more miles—for Eugene than I have before for any of my previous 18 marathons.

Catch that?

I’ve run more miles—over 600—training for Eugene’s 26.2 mile lovefest than I have for any of my previous 18 marathons.

Jump back, Johnny; that’s a big deal.

Added to my uptick in mileage for Eugene has also been an increased focus on ancillary work, like running-specific core work and bodyweight-based at-home strength work, as well as an intense, sometimes pretty humbling focus on speedwork wherein I handed my ass to myself each week (typically before sunrise, and more often than not, in pretty horrendous Chicago winter weather) and was elated if I either a) hit my target pace one time (out of the five or six times that I should have) or b) came within five-ten seconds of hitting it.

Another variable in this Eugene training cocktail that I did differently was incorporate social media into the mix. I just began using dailymile in 2013, and I really only started using twitter at the end of 2012 (but for all intents and purposes, in 2013), and I’ve found that connecting online with a bunch of other like-minded people—in my case, crazy runners—has been deeply gratifying and motivating.

It’s funny, really, because I don’t personally (as in, in real time) know very many of the runners I support online via blog comments, tweets, or dailymile motivations, even though many are Chicago-based, but I’ve come to really appreciate the feedback that I get from them, much as I do the feedback I get from my RT training partners. (and a big shout-out to my readers and respondents here! Ya’ll rule. Lotsa love. xoxo)

Call me crazy, but I think social media has helped me up my game this time around.

Additionally, or maybe most importantly, I haven’t really committed to a training plan in a very long time; if I’m being honest, it has been about… oh… three years (since I did Boston ’10). I had my own reasons for “doing my own thing,” but post-Houston, a fire was lit under me somehow (and by whom, I don’t know, hence my use of the passive voice) that inspired me to seek out training plans in a way that I haven’t in years.

The ultimate result, as I’ve written about, was using Pfitzinger’s up-to-55 miles/week plan (with some slight modifications), and I found myself coming to training each week excited—though slightly and healthily intimidated—with what laid before me. I was like a sponge—or maybe a rubber band—ready to soak up as much of this “new” way of training as I could… while being flexible and just “going with it”… to see what my body was truly capable of doing.

It often, if not usually, far, far, far surpassed my own expectations… and that feeling is to. die. for.

To say that my past twelve weeks of training for Eugene, nearly fresh off my Houston Marathon PR, has been equal parts incredibly rewarding and super refreshing is an understatement.

I don’t mean to be hyperbolic here, but dare I say that going into my race on 4/28, I’m a different marathoner than I was on 1/13 in Houston.

I am really looking forward to racing in Tracktown, USA, in just a few short days. I feel well, my body feels healthy, and perhaps most importantly, my mind is getting to **that place** where it’s beginning to believe everything that I’ve (and my training partners) been telling it for this training cycle. I am still slightly intimidated and nervous to publicly announce that I burned my boat and am aiming for a sub-3:30 finish, but like I’ve been brainwashing telling myself, there’s no reason this can’t happen.

I am totally ready to do this.

I will surely re-read this post roughly a thousand times before I publish it, and wonder if I’m jinxing myself or if I should be superstitious or if I should sandbag myself some and just say that I’d be happy with a sub-4 finish (or just to finish the race, in general), but I’ve gotta be confident.

I can do this.

These twelve weeks have brought me new 10k and 8k PRs, more mileage (and way faster mileage, for the matter) for a marathon training program than ever before, a re-commitment to ancillary work that’s so critical for runners (but so easily ignored by most, myself included), and a great sense of camaraderie with the running community in ways that mimics that which I feel when I’m in a formal, meet-twice-a-week-for-runs group program.

Training for Eugene, in some ways, reminds me of when I trained for my first marathon in 2007, and I fell in love with running for the first time. In other ways, it makes me think of post-May 2011, after I gave birth, and I began running again on the day of my six-week postpartum visit, when I got the “all-clear” to begin running again.

I’ve never really had an on-again, off-again relationship with running, but I guess you can see we’ve renewed our vows a couple times now. 😉

Anything can happen on race day, and nothing is guaranteed. I know this. Years of racing and marathoning experience has taught me as much. I’ve controlled that which I can control, though, and I’m happy with what has happened in my training. If I successfully gain entry in Club-Sub-3:30 on Sunday, all the better.

The hay is in the barn.

…and I am so ready to go to town with that hay, barn and all.

PS: runner tracking is up on the Eugene race site. Check it out!



6 thoughts on “The barn and the (burned) boats

  1. E! This is inspiring! It’s also making me think about my own experiences with social media and this training cycle.

    But back to you. From what I can gather from lovely social media, you’ve had an incredible training cycle, and you’re a rock star for training in those harsh Chicago winters! I have no doubts that you’ll do well on Sunday! (Oh, and I’m elated to be there as a source of on-course motivation.)

    Happy race week, and safe travels to the Pacific NW!

  2. EAMG-I’m thrilled for you! Run well, have fun, enjoy the moment. (C,A, and I will be sending positive thoughts your way.)

  3. I’m so excited to track you on Sunday! You’ve had an amazing training cycle, girl! (Ok, hold up! How did I never realize that you’ve run 18 marathons before?! Holy cow girl you’re badass) I’ve always said that I wouldn’t have been committed or excited to my running when I started training for my first marathon two years ago without the use of social media. It really is an amazing community —you can always count on someone to encourage and support you. HAY IS IN THE BARN AND IT’S HARVEST SEASON! 😀

  4. Great post Erin; you are so inspiring! You will be awesome in Eugene! It looks like good weather conditions in Eugene this weekend for a sub-3:30 : ) Thanks for including the link to the tracker… I can’t wait to hear all about it.

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