Monday, November 11, 2013

NYC Marthon Part I ~ The Training Process

Its not quiet clear when, exactly, I turned my complete focus on the NYC Marathon training process.  Perhaps it came a week or so after Ironman 70.3 Steelhead, perhaps I was training for this all along, perhaps it just happened automatically and I didn't even notice the transition.  Regardless of the timing, I found myself immersed in a journey that took me through the streets of New York City on Sunday, November 3, 2013.

One thing is for sure, this adventure started some four years ago.  You read that right... Four years ago.

I first decided to put this Marathon on my bucket list back in 2009. Knowing and understanding that the process would be a long one, I took the plunge and entered the lottery that year. I knew the chances of being selected were slim. The day came and I was not. The same thing happened the following year.  I entered the lottery once again, and again I was not chosen.

On the third try, my name did come up.  I registered and began the journey.  But that was last year, 2012. And we know what happened.  Hurricane Sandy happened, the Marathon was cancelled. I took an automatic entry to this year's race and began the countdown again.

In my camp, I count with one of the very best trainers in the business, Barry Baird. From my early days in the triathlon world, he took a chance on me. I went solo on my first half iron distance race, Ironman 70.3 Augusta, a race which I thoroughly enjoyed but failed miserably in the run portion. It was obvious that I needed guidance; in comes Barry.

All along the way he has provided me with well thought out plans.  Plans that took into account my goals, physical ability and challenges I was facing at the time.  More often than not, I would follow said plans just as written, often though, I would take certain liberties and adjust to my liking at the moment.  Sometimes I would add, sometimes I would move but always I would train,  The sole exception was training for Ironman Louisville.  I followed this plan just as prescribed and the results were proof of how well it all worked out. He told me one day I was his "renegade" athlete. I took that as a compliment.

There are two elements of a running plan that I have never embraced; speed work and hill repeats.  Hill repeats became a must because in addition to the NYC Marathon, I registered for the infamous Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon to take place in Nashville's Percy Warner Park on Sunday, November 24, 2013. This Marathon boasts a total elevation change of over 7200 feet.  Speed work I had never seriously pursued because, well I think because I did not understand.

Hill repeats, I must confess, were a huge challenge at first.  Not that today I love them, but I now can do them and survive them.  Speed work, pretty much the same thing. It has become a love-hate relationship. I began to see results on my tempo runs. I had always been a 10 min/mile kinda runner.  Now this pace was improving, and improving rapidly.  I cut a whole minute off this pace in no time at all.

And then I became serious about these two. I would join my friends from the Hendersonville Running Club on long runs, hill work and speed work. I have always been a loner when it comes to training but I soon found out that hanging with these faster runners would also push me to places I had not been before.  I owe y'all a tremendous amount of gratitude for allowing me to crash your parties.

As my times improved, I allowed myself to think of the upcoming Middle Half Marathon, the first test of my training improvement this fall, as a race where I could improve on my previous best time, or a PR.  I did mention to one of my running buddies one day that my goal was to break that elusive 2 hour time, I had never done this before. About the same time, I expressed this wish to Barry.  I had never run any race with a specific "time" in mind.  Until now.  I was assured that this was within my reach. I began to believe.

Another change that took place, in my opinion a big change, was the fact that I eliminated "music" from my runs.

I have always had trouble getting earphones to fit properly.  I have tried numerous and none have worked. During one particular run, I removed the already falling earphone and put it away, forever. I have not looked back once. It has made my runs more pleasant. I am more aware of my body and my surroundings.

And then there's the shoes. But these deserve a post all to themselves.

Because this race cannot be recapped in one post, I have split it into four.  Next chapter will come to you tomorrow... NYC Marathon Part II ~ The Middle Half