People say that you feel different after running a marathon. That there's life before the marathon, and life after the marathon. And I'd have to agree with that. Running 26.2 miles changes you. You feel that if you can do that, you can do anything. I definitely felt that way after my first marathon.
And now, I'd have to say that I feel even more different after running a Boston qualifier. I KNOW that if I can do that, there isn't much that I can't do.
I still can't quite believe that I did it, and I keep looking at the results online to make sure that there wasn't some sort of mistake.
And I still can't believe I'm running the Gansett marathon in April. I remember last April, I was out for a long run the morning that the race was being held, and I ran past the beach in the hopes that I'd be able to see the start.
As it turned out, I timed it perfectly, and was literally just a few hundred feet from the runners as they took off. And I remember thinking "maybe someday I'll be there." At that time, I was thinking someday would be two or three years from now. And now here I am, already contemplating how I'm going to train. This is one of those times that I'm happy I was wrong : )
I have started doing some reading and research on training plans, but I'm not quite ready to get into the nitty gritty of it yet. I'm still enjoying having some down time, and running without purpose.
I was feeling worried the other day that I've lost my drive, and that I'm not going to be ready to dive back into a training program again in just a few months. But I know myself, and I know that I'm just taking a well-deserved break, and when the time comes to get back to work, I'll be more than ready.
I had toyed around with the idea of switching to a 5-day-a-week plan, but I don't think that would be a wise move. I did so well with the 3-day-a-week program, and was able to stay healthy and get faster, so I don't want to mess with that. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?
That being said, the thought of following that same exact plan again is, frankly, horrifying. It was a great plan, and it worked, but I can't do those exact same workouts again just a few months later.
So I got a book called "Smart Marathon Training," and it's very similar - run 3 days a week, cross-train a few days a week, and every run is a quality one - speedwork or hills, tempo runs, and long runs.
The difference is that it allows for a little flexibility, which will be a welcome change.
And the other difference is that this time, I want to do well, and I'm hoping I can at least come close to the 3:43 I ran in Hartford. But I don't HAVE to. If I don't, I might be a little disappointed, but I've got my qualifier. I've achieved my ultimate marathon goal. Anything beyond that is icing on the cake.
It's a good place to be.
And in light of my training hiatus, I just decided that I'm going to run a fun 5K this Sunday. I won't be in costume, but a lot of people will, so it'll be very festive.
And I've been dying to run a 5K since I started doing all the speedwork during marathon training. I'm not going to race all-out, since I'm still only a few weeks post-marathon, but I am going to let myself run fast. I got up to a 7:30 pace on my run today, and it was so much fun. I'm excited to see what I can do Sunday : )
My new long-term goal is to break 21 minutes in a 5K. My PR right now is 22:20, and I think I can get under 22 minutes pretty easily (might even be able to pull it off Sunday, if things go well).
Getting under 21 minutes is going to take a lot more work, but I know I can do it. And now that I've checked "qualify for Gansett and Boston" off my list, I need a new goal.
Other thoughts are floating around in my head - thoughts about getting some swim coaching and really trying to place in my age group in a sprint triathlon, and tackling an Olympic distance, and maybe working toward a century ride...... So many things to think about. But for now, I'll focus on Gansett and a sub-21 5K. That seems like as good a place to start as any.