28 days to go. Four weeks from today, I’ll be running the Wineglass Marathon, with my first legitimate shot at qualifying for Boston.
My training has gone extremely well recently, and I can’t imagine feeling better heading into the final few weeks. I ran that solid 20-miler early this week, and since then I’ve had two fantastic workouts. The first was a track workout, where I ran three miles at 6:01 each, separated by 400 meters of slow jogging to recover. This was really special for me, because every other time I’ve attempted a workout like this, I’ve been able to complete the first mile at 6:01, but have faltered on the remaining two.
But not this time. The first was no problem, easier than usual. The thought that I might complete this workout entered my head, but midway through the second mile, I realized that this thought always enters my head. Nonetheless, I finished the second mile right on time, sprinting at the end to get in under 6:01. I figured at this point I was done. But after my recovery lap, I started the third mile. One lap passed, about two seconds slow. This is where I usually lose it. Two seconds becomes five seconds becomes 15 seconds and the mile doesn’t resemble what it was supposed to be.
I’m still not sure how, but I got those two seconds back in the next lap. And after that, it felt like I was running downhill. Knowing that no matter how much it hurt, it would be over in half a mile made it all quite—dare I say—easy. Done. Exactly 6:00 for the last mile. I left that big 6-oh-oh one on my watch all weekend before erasing it.
Today’s workout, by comparison, was boring, but still meaningful. 10 miles at 7:15, Boston Marathon qualifying pace. I did this same workout two weeks ago, so I had no doubt that I could do it. And again I did it, but it was a lot easier than last time. This time I got stronger at the end, rather than weaker. Someone passing on a bike even said “Nice pace!” That was fun.
One more week and the training starts to wind down. 15 miles on Tueday and one final 20-miler before taper time. And I’ve never felt better. I’m in the best shape of my life, without even a little nagging injury. It feels weird, almost as if I’m cheating, since marathon training always means nagging injuries. Considering the knee issues I was having when I started this 16-week fiasco, I’m ecstatic.
There’s still the uncertainty about qualifying that I’ve expressed recently. These workouts are nothing compared to the effort that will be required to qualify. But I just keep telling myself that these workouts were designed for Boston-qualifying, and if I’m completing them then I must be on track. Another week of training and three restful weeks of tapering will leave me fresh and ready. And then it will just be me, the 26.2, and a shot at the only goal I’ve ever spent seven years working toward.