It's been a little tough for me to get excited about this round of marathon training, since it began only 2 and a half months after I ran Hartford.
There have definitely been moments where I've felt happy and excited and ready to get out there and get it done. But I have to admit that, as much as I love having a goal to work toward, and a plan to follow, diving into another marathon training program so soon is taking some getting used to, and I am fairly certain that I'll ever again run two marathons so close to each other.
I'm not all down in the dumps, though. I just have a lot of times where I look at the planned workouts and sigh, and wonder why I'm putting myself through this all over again.
Then I remember - I EARNED it, and I wanted it, and it's not a chore, it's my reward! I watched the start of the Gansett Marathon last year while out on a long run, and I was positively green with envy, watching that elite group of runners set out on the only qualifiers-only marathon. And I thought to myself that maybe someday, some year, I'd be there with them.
At that point, I never imagined this would be the year, and I like to navigate to the "qualified runners" page on the website once in a while and just smile at the sight of my name on that list.
So yeah, I definitely wanted this, and I definitely earned it, and I am going to be so amazingly proud to be standing on that starting line in April.
And that's what I have to keep in mind as I review that training plan, and as I set out for track workouts and long runs on these chilly winter mornings.
As it was when I crossed the finish line in Hartford, it will ALL be worth it in the end.
And there are times where I'm truly enjoying the process - like this morning, and last Thursday morning. Thursdays are tempo run days, and I am officially in love with the tempo run.
The tempo runs on this plan are scheduled to be 8-milers. Last week I did 7.5, this week I did 8. The pace is supposed to be anywhere from 7:25 to 7:40. Last week I ran a 7:24 pace. This week I ran 7:37.
Both runs felt positively incredible. It's hard to even describe, but it felt like my legs were just on autopilot. After quickly warming up at a slightly slower pace, everything just kicked into gear, and I felt like I was literally flying over the road.
Running at that pace for that distance is challenging for me (as it should be for a tempo run), but not so challenging that it's painful, and just challenging enough that it almost feels race-like, without being an all-out race effort.
There's that hint of adrenaline; that thrill of pushing yourself just beyond your comfort zone.
And of course there's just the fun of running fast - watching the trees and scenery go flying past, and seeing your shadow race alongside you.
These tempo efforts are definitely shaping up to be my favorite workouts of the week. They don't push me to the brink of exhaustion the way track intervals do, and they don't wear me down mentally the way long runs do. They're work, but they're also a ton of fun. And I feel damn near invincible when I finish an 8-mile run at what used to be my 5K pace.
Already looking forward to next Thursday!