Just as I was starting to feel like I was getting back into my old marathon running shape after having our son Miles, I started a PhD program at Notre Dame. Going from stay-at-home mom to mom plus full-time student was quite an adjustment. I had the hardest time coming home in the evening, seeing Miles, and heading back out the door to run. My training quickly became only enough to complete marathons not compete them.
My schedule became less hectic after my spring semester came to an end and I began to find a balance between family, school, and running. After a slew of disappointing races, I was eager to begin seriously training again. I enlisted the help of my former coach Doug Yoder to develop a plan to get me to a marathon PR in the fall. He took the job seriously and gave me a challenging training schedule.
As Justin mentioned in his previous post, my target marathon was going to be Akron. That race usually has several ladies who run in the 2:50s, which we thought would help push me to my goal of 2:56. When our plans fell through for that race, we settled on the MVP Health Care Rochester Marathon. I was a little worried about whether this was a smart alternative because it was a smaller race than Akron so the chance that I would end up running alone was higher.
Since all my best marathons have been run by negative splitting, I decided to take that approach again. I was confident that I was in at least 2:58 shape, so I decided to run 6:50s for the first half and see how much I could push the pace the second half. Despite my confidence, my nerves were almost overwhelming me at the starting line. What if I overestimated the shape I was in? What if I listened to the little voices that pop into my head late in a race telling me to forget my goals? All those nervous thoughts were quickly converted to energy as soon as the gun went off.
After a fast first mile, I settled into my planned pace. By mile 2, the field had already spread out significantly and I found myself alone. I had pretty much given up on running with somebody, when I was joined by a guy named Jeff around mile 6. The two of us fell into pace together and chatted off and on through the first half, which we hit in 1:29. We gradually picked up the pace until we were hitting mid 6:30s. I was surprised at how great I felt going this faster pace and tried to ignore the little voices saying “you are going to regret this during the last miles.” Slowing down wasn’t an option.
At mile 23, Jeff kicked it into another gear, a gear that I didn’t have. He went on to finish 2:55:32 (an awesome time for his first marathon!) I just focused on staying steady for the last 3 miles as my legs were starting to feel quite fatigued. I knew if I could hold it together, I would get a new PR but I wasn’t sure if I had gone fast enough the second half to make it into the 2:56 range. When I went around the last corner and the finish clock came into view, I was filled with excitement - I was going run a 2:56! My official time was 2:56:37. I also won the race and broke the course record. I mention these as side notes because while fun and exciting, that was not what this particular race was about.
Now I need to decide what time I should make my new goal PR...