Friday, May 11, 2012

Looking Ahead

It's been five days since the memorable marathon day. I opted to take the entire week off of running to allow my legs to recover a bit before I start training again. Soreness is gone, the blisters are almost healed, my appetite is back to normal, and I'm feeling much less tired. I'm ready to run again.

It feels a little strange being where I am now. Since January 1st, I've had my sights set on one goal. I ran 4-5 days a week in preparation for meeting the goal. Now suddenly, the goal has been achieved, and I've not run in 5 days. Something's up. Something's missing.

I wrote a long time ago about the emotional rollercoaster ride of being a runner who enters races. You work up to a goal, achieve a goal, experience a high / adrenaline rush, then it's over. One can run the risk of feeling a bit blue once that adrenaline rush wears off. I think this is part of the reason why running is so addicting for me. It's not so much the adrenaline rush that I crave, but more a reason to be driven, an end goal to keep focused on, and the feeling of accomplishment. And I think this is why I keep entering races, so I don't have too much of a void to wonder, "what now?"

Let me clarify - I am not feeling blue. The rush hasn't ended. I haven't forgotten that I just ran my first marathon. I just simply look forward to the next step. I'm itching to get back in the game.
I had my next two races picked out long before I ran this marathon. But now that the first marathon is done, I can look at the next two races with even more drive and determination than I had done so before. Now these races are what's in front of me, and what will be driving my training for the upcoming months, rather than being something I don't need to worry about later. I'm excited!

First on the list is the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon on June 24th. I'm excited for this because it's a great summer race, one that I'd run twice in 2003 and 2004, but not since. Back then I was quite a bit slower, so I'm excited to run it again as the new me. And there's some sentimentality attached, being that it was my first race, and now I get to run it as the woman who has rediscovered her love for running over the last couple years. And as I've been so focused on the recent marathon for a while, I'm excited to focus my training on a shorter distance. When I ran the BMO Sunshine Coast April Fool's Half Marathon, I treated it as a training run and took it at an easy pace. I'm excited to run this upcoming half marathon as a RACE. I am excited to try to achieve a personal best finish time for a half marathon. I am confident I can.

And then what's next? Yes, another marathon! I registered a couple days ago for the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon on October 7th. I've heard that after running a first marathon, the reaction is one of two things: (A) the runner swears they will never run a marathon again or (B) the runner signs up for another marathon almost right away. You'd think that with the race I had, I would have gone for option A, or at least waited until the pain in my legs subsided a bit more. But no, I went for it. I thought to myself, "Running that marathon was the most grueling and uncomfortable experience of my life. But I survived it and came out on top. I can't wait to do it again!" And I think there are several reasons for this. To name a few...
  • My first marathon completion time wasn't what I know I'm capable of. I'd like to see what finish time I can get if I don't have to run 19K with cramping quads.
  • I learned a lot about training, tapering, and racing through this first marathon. It was trial #1 of a science experiment. I need to test out a few things I learned about myself here in trial #2. No doubt the learning will make for better results.
  • Let's face it, being a marathoner is awesome. I don't want to be someone who just runs one and never runs one again. I want to be a true marathoner who runs that distance multiple times, or as long as it's possible for me to run that distance. I want to see what I'm truly capable of, and act like the athlete I know I am and I know I can be.
  • It's just my nature - my goal is to improve, in all aspects of my life. I already have a plan of action for improving my marathon running. 
And wouldn't blogging about it be sweet?

So this weekend, I'm going to do a gentle 10K, and then start easing my way back into running 4-5 days a week. Starting next week, I'm going to focus on getting quality speed sessions in, and sessions where I'm running at my target half marathon race pace. Starting a week from now, I'll take my distances up a notch too in my long run to help my legs be race ready again, gradually going up week to week. I'm stoked!

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