I remember being on the Airdyne bike during a Crossfit workout back in July after dealing with a minor glute injury. I was riding myself into the pain cave….burning quads and gritting my teeth. I vividly remember getting through the bike intervals by picturing myself sprinting down the finish of CIM with the same feeling of burning quads. I told myself that if I let up on the bike, I was just setting myself up to let up during the race. My training cycle hadn’t even started yet, but I was ready. Ready to give the training cycle everything I had.
I continued to visualize that finish whenever I found myself needing the extra mental push during hard workouts. Hoping that on race day, my visualizations would become eventually become reality. I think the finishing photos are proof that it did.
The plan my coach gave me was to start out conservative, slowly drop the pace and then I had the freedom to go as fast as I wanted in the final 7. The conservative start gave me all the energy to just GO once I hit that mile 19 marker. And when I say go, I mean I just hit the ground running.
At mile 20 there was a giant inflatable that had “The Wall” written on it and I ran through it the strongest I had run any of the other miles. I wanted to feel the hurt. I ran comfortable for the first 18 miles and the LAST thing I wanted was to look back on my race knowing I didn’t give it my all. With each mile ticking away at sub 7, I asked myself if I could go faster…if I could hurt more. The answer was always ‘yes’ so I dropped the pace a little more. Whenever moments of doubt struck, I remembered my half marathon in June and reminded myself that I am capable of running sub 7 even when I’m fatigued and tired.
The final 7 miles of CIM are engraved in my memory because they are probably the strongest I have ever felt in my running career. Setting my sight on groups of people ahead, reeling them in, passing and repeating. By mile 24, I started to feel those sub 7s ..and the previous 24 miles so I relied on the advice speedy and amazing friend, Whitney told me before the race. I asked her for two pieces of advice for when the pain hits. Her response was “I talk to myself, I smack my quads, and I tell them to go”. Thank goodness there was not a camera man at the start of mile 24. I literally smacked my quads and was telling myself out loud to push and not let up. My coach jumped in for a second in the final 800 meters. It’s always nice to see a familiar face when you’re hurting but I don’t think I even turned my head to acknowledge him, I was in survival mode and the only thing I could focus on was the final finishing moments. Focus on the straightaway with the capital in the background. The moment I visualized for months. When I rounded the corner, I spotted one female between myself and the finish. I don’t know how far in front she was or when I passed, I just know that I found something deep inside me to pull off a 5:58 final quarter mile and it was unreal. =-0When I finished, I collapsed to the ground and was swarmed by volunteers helping me up. I nearly choked the poor woman as I put her in a headlock to stop my Garmin.
The weekend and the race were everything I had hoped for and more! Between pre-race dinners with Bethany and Sarah, lunch with my friend Melissa C., post-race lunch with Coach Mat and Emily and post-race dinner with Nicole and Kristina – it was a weekend of hanging out with some of my favorite Instagram friends who I rarely get to see. These people inspire me everyday in training and they continued to inspire me minutes before the race, during the race and after the race.
The marathon distance has robbed me of a lot of confidence in the last couple of years. I hit a plateau, faced some injuries and questioned whether I was meant for the distance. When I look back at my splits, my race photos and the memories/feelings from CIM, I know I have it in me to do bigger and better things.
In a post that I put on Instagram 2 days before the race I wrote, “the marathon doesn’t owe me anything. But that’s OK. This training cycle gave me everything.”
It truly did. I learned that as long as I listen to my body’s signals, speak up when I need to, put the long term goal ahead of small workouts and not over stress when small hiccups pop up but simply treat them immediately…then I am capable of a successful and challenging marathon cycle that required NO missed days and NO missed workouts.
I’d like to end this post with something along the lines as.. big things coming or I am coming for you 2019…but I don’t actually know what’s to come. That’s the wonderful and frustrating part about this sport. You just never know. Sometimes you grind for months and PR and other times you grind but get tossed a giant curve ball that you never saw coming. What I DO know is that I feel like I have finally figured myself out when it comes to marathon training and being coached. It’s taken a few poor performances, a couple injuries and stupid moments where I pulled the “I am not going to tell my coach” for me to learn how to really navigate this training and coaching thing. I think my coach would agree when I say, we really figured it out this time around. When I felt we needed to move things around to maximize the workouts, I let him know right away and we did it. When it came to setting realistic goals, he told me what I needed to hear not necessarily what I wanted to hear. But I learned how to trust it. I trusted his CIM race plan. I knew it was a conservative plan but reminded myself that if I wanted to prove myself and prove I was capable of a bigger PR then I better show it in the final 10k when I was given the freedom to go. The plan was epic – my first negative split race and a 1:32 second half….1 minute faster than the Disney half marathon this past February.
It’s been 7 days since my last run and I still plan to take a few more days off. The rest has been amazing and I don’t have the itch to get back into training which tells me that I really did this training cycle correct. 🙂