Monday, December 28, 2009

16 Weeks to Boston

Sixteen weeks from today, I hope to be reclined somewhere in a comfy chair, legs elevated, family surrounding me, a cold pint of beer in one hand and a Boston Marathon medal in the other.  But as Bruce Tuckman's novel on the Boston Marathon elegantly puts it: the road to Boston is a long one.

I built a one week down period into my training plan to have some time to heal up, rejuvenate, and not have to worry about hitting the roads during the busy Christmas week.  This proved a fortuitous decision with much of "the Blizzard of 2009's" remnants still hanging on (and glazing over for that matter).  So, I spent the week as a time for all these things, but also as one of reflection.  Yesterday evening, I pulled down by self-proclaimed 10-week Boston Buildup plan from the fridge, and replaced it instead with the 16-week plan I just got a week ago.  

I got a bit of the jitters putting this one up there because it's no longer about the build up to the build up to the build up. This is the actual plan with the last workout being to run my first Boston Marathon.  I took these thoughts out on the road with me for my first work out this morning.  I'm not working this week so I'm fortunate to start this program with leisurely mornings of long dog walks, prolonged stretching, the run itself, and whatever cool down (stretching, ab workout, foam roller, recovery shake) time I need.

Today's work out on the long road called for an easy 40-50 minute run, which I translated into my 7-mile route that I haven't run in some time because it's dark by the time I get home and a good two-three miles is in the woods.

I think the program begins at a fitting time.  With 2009 winding down, don't we generally take this time to reflect on the year past and look ahead to the coming 12-months?  As I dipped into the woods today, patches of snow still covered the thick bed of leaves and the creek flowed quickly by thanks to the runoff of melting snow. It was here that my thoughts took a run of their own, back through the many miles covered (and not covered) through 2009.  It was about this time last year that I turned over that calendar page and swapped out training programs to get ready for the marathon that would lead me to my eventual date with Boston.  

I came down with a nasty case of the flu in March and missed one race but luckily came back strong enough the next week to PR in the National Half Marathon and drive my confidence up for May.  April became my monster month where I ran the highest weekly mileages of my short running career. 

Confidence soaring, May arrived and after blowing through my last 20-miler, I nearly won the 5K my wife and I run in every year that snakes through the neighborhood I grew up in.  A week later, I came down with strep throat, just a seven days before the Vermont Marathon.  I kept this mostly quiet, took a couple extra days off work, then boarded the plan to Burlington with butterflies in my stomach and a sting in the back of my throat.  It wasn't enough trying to run a marathon I'd been training 14-months for, but now I had to worry if I would be healthy enough to run it.  The day before the race was the first day I woke up without any trace of a sore throat and vowed to run anyway.  

It worked out pretty well.

The elation of the BQ wore off a month later when I re-injured my IT band and spent the next two-three months running no more than 2-miles at a time.  Things started to click once again in August and my thoughts turned to the Army Ten-Miler.  Not sure if things would hold up, I ran a 65:02, a six-minute plus improvement over the year before.  I of course had the "good karma" beard to thank for that.

After three holiday 5Ks and a 10K (that include PRs for both distances), I'm here, staring at day one of my Boston Plan and three days remaining in 2009.  I still have one more PR to set for this year, a four-mile race we're running on New Year's Eve that, last year, we fought through in the howling wind and blistering cold.  

Day one is checked off.  15 weeks and six days to go.

It's all part of the greater good, getting me down that long Boston.

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