A year ago today, I found out I didn't have a stress fracture. A year ago today, I was probably the most grateful person on the face of the earth. A year ago today, I was told I could indeed race the Columbus Marathon. I can still remember the feeling of utter joy as I walked out of Dr. Bright's office at Max Sports. I called my closest running friends and cried tears of joy as I drove home. I cautiously trained for the next eight days, praying that everything would fall into place at the race. And for about 15 glorious miles, they did. I loved that race... until my calves began to seize, and I had to walk several times and (gasp) even completely stop three times to stretch. Needless to say, it was not exactly the race I had hoped for. Despite a PR of 12 minutes (3:44:29), I couldn't be happy with the race. I kept telling myself to be grateful, but all I could think is what might have been. I surely would have gone fast enough to qualify for Boston in 2016 with a sub-3:40 if I hadn't had those cramps.
A little over a week ago, I found out that it would have taken a 3:37:32 or faster to run at the Boston Marathon in 2016. You see, just because a person runs faster than the qualifying standard does not mean that they get to actually run in the race. The Boston Athletic Association sets the actual standard each year depending on how many people register as well as other mitigating factors. This must have been a banner year for registrations, because for the past two years it's only taken a time of less than 1:30 under the standard to make it to Boston.
Oddly enough, it made me happy to hear this. I wasn't "only four minutes" away from qualifying. I was actually seven minutes. That's a lot more in the running world. It would've taken a lot for me to actually hit that standard last year. Almost the perfect race. If I would have kept the same pace I was racing at when the cramps started (8:15), I would've gone just over four minutes faster. A 3:40. Not even fast enough to qualify for Boston, let alone actually race there. My race plan, of course, was to keep getting faster as I raced. I mean, that's how I always race. Who knows if that would've actually happened, but I realize now that I would've needed to go quite a bit faster for those last ten miles or so to even have a chance to make it.
Why does this all even matter to me? It just solidifies the fact in my mind that Boston 2016 is not, and was never meant to be, MY RACE. For whatever reason (maybe because it's my son's 11th birthday?), I was not supposed to be there. I will happily "stalk" my friends Andrea, Carol, Melissa, Jason, and Amanda, virtually cheering them. I will show my students live video footage on April 18th, just as I did this past April as I nursed my injury.
And, hopefully, I will be preparing to run in my third marathon just six days later. I have written a training plan that begins on December 7th, 20 weeks before the 2016 Glass City Marathon (April 24, 2016). The plan is conservative by all definitions of the word. The weekly mileage isn't super high; I have it peaking at 38. I only have speed workouts planned once a week (alternating track and tempo), with a week of no speedwork at all every third week (coinciding with my dropback weeks). Oh, and the speed doesn't actually start until mid-January (six weeks into training). My fourth weekday of running (which I plan on adding back in around Thanksgiving) will only be 3-4 miles of running. I'll be cross- training, of course (boot camp, swimming, and core work... oh and hopefully some yoga, one of my newest loves!).
I contemplated using a pre-written plan this time around. I scoured the Internet one night, trying to find a plan that would suite me. I just couldn't find one that spoke to me. So, as always, I borrowed and stole from various plans that I found. I am having a few friends take a look at my plan and give me feedback, as I am still not sure it's where it needs to be. Meanwhile, I am thoroughly enjoying every aspect of my "non-training plan" right now. Running three days a week, cross-training two or three days a week, and being incredibly grateful each and every time I lace up. I don't think I will lose that gratitude this time around. As my friend Jen said to me, I am a changed runner. Here's hoping it's for the better.