If you have been following my training, it's no secret that this training cycle hasn't exactly gone the way I planned. I didn't do speedwork, limit alcohol, stay injury-free, train on hills, do consistent lower body strength training, or race much. I never even created a spreadsheet to track my mileage. I didn't have the base mileage, speed, or endurance I had in the past. Or the motivation. Motivation plays a bigger role than you would imagine.
I've used Hal Higdon's Intermediate 1 in the past, but I chose Novice 1 for a variety of reasons. If you follow Novice 1 plan perfectly, you end up running about 470 miles, including the marathon. I am going to cap out with about 440 miles. Not as bad as I thought but not terribly close either. A year ago, past me held just over an 8 minute pace for 26.2 miles. Present me has no idea how past me did that. Present me cannot do that. Boston is not going to be a fast (well, fast compared to past me) or pretty marathon. It is really going to depend on how my ankle holds up. The great unknown.
When I started out, I was just coming back from tendonitis in my right ankle. Pesky tendons. I probably tried to come back from an injury too quickly. Or I changed my form to compensate for my injured right foot. Which eventually put a strain on my left foot. I'm sure running on too many hills or running too much on hard/uneven surfaces didn't help either.
I have a feeling not training on hills and lack of lower body strength training are going to come back and haunt me at Boston. Looking at the course elevation chart, Boston does not look like a difficult course. It is net downhill. Yet the elevation chart is deceptive. I have ran on the Wellesley-Newton stretch where most of the hills are, including Heartbreak. Those hills in and of themselves are not that big of a deal. It's just that there is a succession of hills, and Heartbreak is at a mentally difficult point in the course.
I have time goals I would like to hit, but I really don't know if they are realistic. I will not be upset if I don't hit the time goal. But then again, I have enough marathon experience to draw on and I'm not going to aim for a goal that is totally out of reach. Such as 3:35 (still my BQ qualifying time) or a PR (under 3:31:02). There is zero chance either of those will happen at Boston.
When I started drafting this training recap, it was a lot more negative. The last few weeks actually went pretty well. I had a solid 20-mile run, much better than I anticipated. My speed has improved. For the most part, my left foot has cooperated. My motivation came back. Good. That makes me feel more confident about Boston. As we all know, confidence is priceless.
I also have one big advantage. I am very familiar with the last 5 miles of the course. Those miles are often the toughest stretch in any marathon. I know it is all downhill once you get past Heartbreak Hill and Boston College. I am looking forward to that part the most. Forget the Wellesley girls. I want to see my BC Eagles cheer me on. I want to turn onto Beacon Street and see downtown Boston off in the distance. I want to run through Coolidge Corner with about 2 miles to go. I want to pass near Fenway Park. I want to see the Citgo sign in Kenmore Square and know there is 1 mile to go. I want to cross the finish line on Boylston Street. I can visualize all of these places because I've been to all of them. Multiple times.
And you better believe I will sing For Boston (the BC fight song) when I reach the top of Heartbreak Hill. I've done that before too. Multiple times.