Choosing A BQ Course (and beating FOMO)

When I went public announcing my attempt to BQ this year, I stated I’d be doing St. George Marathon in October.

But for a brief moment last week, I changed my mind.

After Phoenix Marathon, my good friend Bob messaged me congratulating me on my PR and telling me that he thought my chances to BQ were good and that I should consider a race that would qualify me for Boston 2018–the year he would be going.

I have A TON of friends going to Boston in 2018. My friend Marsha who qualified here two weeks ago is going.

My beautiful and speedy friend, Marsha ❤

Katrina is going, Carlee is going, my friend Kim is going, my friend Halley is going, I have no doubt Charissa will qualify next month–not to mention, a slew of friends here in Phoenix.

The FOMO is real, folks.

So when my friend, Bob, mentioned that I should consider Revel Big Cottonwood in September, I was intrigued. I was tempted.

The race was far enough away for me to get a good training cycle in. Revel races have good BQ rates. But most importantly, it would put me in Boston 2018. If I made it.

This just looks painful. (Source)

I was in. I thought about how much fun it would be to meet up with friends–friends whose BQ journey I’d followed. Now I could be in the race with them!

But as I waited to sign-up (my BQ training buddy Ashley was also in on this), I started to think about the negatives of changing courses. Up to this point, I had only thought of the plusses.

My husband had a huge PR at Phoenix too, finishing in 3:17–twelve minutes from his BQ time (he’d of course need a couple more minutes buffer).

I refuse to go to Boston without him.

If only one of us qualified in Big Cottonwood, the other one would be left having to do a race qualifying for the following year. We wouldn’t be doing Boston together.

When I thought about how much fun it would be to meet up with friends in Hopkinton, I realized it wouldn’t be as fun if it was without my husband, or watching from the sidelines.

Sticking with St. George means that we’d have several more chances to qualify if we didn’t make it there. I’m already signed up for CIM in December, and we’re both signed up for Phoenix in 2018. The back-ups (or fun runs, hoping it’s the latter lol) are set.

Putting all of our eggs in the one Big Cottonwood basket was just too risky.

So I didn’t sign up.

I’m proud I didn’t give in to FOMO and thought about what’s really important to me. My husband has been my number one supporter in my running journey and I know he’d say the same about me. Boston is going to get the both of us or none of us at all. ❤

Me and my fave

See you in St. George!

–When’s the last time you beat out FOMO (fear of missing out)?

–When’s the last time you succumbed to FOMO? 

 

2017 Phoenix Marathon: Race Recap

I know you’re probably tired of hearing this 😉 , but I got another PR!!! That’s the short of it, but if you want the extended version, here it comes….

(By the way, excuse my absence–my last post should’ve also been titled Blogging Blues, lol!)

Okay, the Mesa-Phoenix Marathon. So, I had friends coming in from Texas–Scott who used to blog and that’s how I “met” him (and in real life in Chicago), his partner in crime and better half Marsha, and a cool dude named Roberto.

Me and Scott after Chicago Marathon 2015

Me and Scott after Chicago Marathon 2015

I had convinced them to come because Marsha was looking to BQ and I knew she could do it on Phoenix’s course. When we first met back in Chicago, she had, unknowingly at the time, gotten super close and didn’t need a whole lot to shave. I was certain she’d get the sub 3:45 she needed.

With her goal being sub 3:45 and my PR being 3:58, I figured I’d just hang with her for as long as I could and see how it went. I didn’t mind combusting if that’s what happened; this wasn’t a race I was going for a real time goal anyway. I could risk it.

Marsha also wasn’t putting too much pressure on herself to BQ. While it would be great if she did, she wasn’t going to be fixed to her watch and causing herself race anxiety.

Having that mindset, we went into the race stress-free and full excitement for a long run with friends. That’s how we were approaching it.

Shakeout run with the Texas gang

Shakeout run with the Texas gang

The race started out bright and early at 6:30 a.m. in the middle of the mountains out in nowhere. We saw the sunrise the first few miles and we were in really good spirits promising everyone tequila at the finish.

“You get tequila!”

“And you get tequila!”

“Everyone gets tequila!”

(Spoiler: I did not have tequila at the end, lol!)

Scott had pacing duties so I never looked at my watch, instead, just followed his lead.

This was a pretty steep downhill so I was proud of how controlled we stayed. Thanks, Scott!

This was a pretty steep downhill so I was proud of how controlled we stayed. Thanks, Scott!

I felt good and when we approached the only hill of the race, I knew if I just stayed close, I’d be okay.

screen-shot-2017-03-02-at-8-56-00-am

We didn’t skip a beat going up and my pace for miles 5 and 6 were 8:31 and 8:35!

It was a nice downhill for a while after that and our pace stayed relatively steady between miles 7-15.

17091307_10107563239000311_618192374_oOur conversation stayed steady too. We were running calm and enjoying the absolutely amazing weather we were having. We joked, we sang a little, we told Marsha to slow down. It was the most fun and relaxed I’d ever run a marathon… ever.

When we got to mile 16, I felt myself slowing down and I decided then to plug myself in and prepare for the last ten miles. I kept Scott and Marsha in my sight though, so I wasn’t too far behind them.

I stayed steady at around 8:30ish for a few miles

Call me Miss. Consistent :D

Call me Miss. Consistent 😀

and felt pretty good despite having slowed down a little (and really, I couldn’t believe I was still running an 8:30 something in the back end of a marathon!)

Cruising!

Mile 19–Cruising!

At mile 23, the cramping started. But like New York, I just accepted it and ran with it. They slowed me down, and I could feel them with each step in my calves, my shins, my quads, the tops of my feet–but I knew I had a sub 3:45 if I just kept moving.

And would you believe that the miles I ran with cramps were in the 9s?!!??!!  I mean, I honestly am just in shock that that was my pace with freaking cramps!!!

You guys, seriously!!!

You guys, seriously!!!

Must. Get. To. Finish. Line.

Mile 23–Must. Get. To. Finish. Line.

I turned the corner, and I finally saw the person I hoped to see–my husband. I knew that he’d finish before me and be at the finish line waiting, and it was that which kept me going.

Started and finished with a smile :D

Started and finished with a smile 😀

Me and my 3:17 marathoner <3

Me and my 3:17 marathoner ❤

As soon as I crossed the finish line, I saw Scott and Marsha who had also just finished. I could see the huge smile on Marsha’s face and I knew it–she had BQ’d!!!!! Scott snagged himself a nice little PR coming in after her (but before me)– we all finished within 4 minutes of each other!

We're awesome.

We’re awesome.

I cannot get over how amazingly awesome and FUN this race was. I know that all races won’t be like this one, but I’m glad I finally had a race that was absolutely a blast from beginning to end. The PR is the cherry on top but honestly, it’s the people that made Phoenix Marathon unforgettable.

My two halves though--and average pace--I can't believe it. CAN'T.

My two halves though–and average pace–I can’t believe it. CAN’T.

<3

–Have you had a race that was just an absolute blast??

 

 

 

 

Hanson’s Marathon Method–Personal Review

It’s been a long time coming, this review, lol!! I want to preface this post saying that my personal experience using this training plan is just that, my personal experience. And like with any plan, what works for me, might not work for others. I’m also no expert, so be aware of that going in to this post 😉

About the Plan

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High Mileage

That’s the premise behind Hanson’s Marathon Method–higher mileage so that the runner practices running on cumulative fatigue, similar to the end of the marathon. It’s six days of running with one rest day in the middle of the week, Wednesday. Regardless of whether you choose the Just Finish Plan (which maxes at round 50 miles/week), the Beginner Plan (which maxes at around 60 miles/week), or the Advanced Plan (which maxes out at around 70), it’s a lot of running. So unless you’ve already been training at that mileage, it will take some getting used to. I used a full month as pre-season training to transition to the start of the plan–that way, I wasn’t going from 0-to-60.

Specific Workouts

You are running 6 days a week and each day you are running has a purpose and prescribed pace–Easy Run, Speed/Strength Run, Tempo Run, Long Run. (Speed/Strength Run and Tempo Run are the Something of Substance (SOS) runs.) The book has paces for each run depending on your marathon goal. I liked having a set pace for each run and I liked knowing what each day was “supposed” to be. Some people do not like having such a structured plan, but I’m a rule follower by nature so this was perfect for me, lol. This is not to say that you cannot modify the plan, you can, and there’s a section in the book that talks about how. You can also hire a coach through Hanson’s website and they can create a plan specific to your life schedule.

The Plan.

My husband made this pretty chart for me.

Warm-up/Cool-down

The Speed/Strength and Tempo Runs come with a  1.5-2 mile warm-up and cool-down that are really essential to the success of the plan. So while the schedule would say 6 Miles Tempo, it was really more than that with the addition of the WU and CD. I mostly stuck to a mile for each and felt that it was super helpful as I began and finished each workout. I don’t recommend skipping it.

Supplemental Training

Running so much leaves little time for cross training and there’s a section in the book that discusses why they don’t suggest it. There’s also a section that include stretches and strength training exercises which they encourage you to include in your training. I did, and I felt that it was a big reason I was able to make it the whole way through without injury. I don’t recommend skipping it.

Okay, so there’s some basic stuff about the plan. What I want to share with you next are some more personal feelings/thoughts about it. 

Train Your Brain

It’s a lot of running. You know that going in because you’ve looked at the plan. But when you’re in the midst of it all, it can get to be a little crazy. I couldn’t believe I was doing double digit mid-week runs. I couldn’t believe I was running back to back to back to back days. I couldn’t believe a lot of things. I really had to focus on each day/workout and not look too far into the future/week so that I wouldn’t become overwhelmed. It can be daunting to look at your plan and see you have a 10 mile Tempo Run (that’s really like 12 miles total) and then see a 16 mile Long Run a few days later. I think if you accept the mileage going in, you’ll make your life a whole lot easier. Accept that it’s a lot of running. Trust that all that running is going to help you reach your goal. This also helped me throughout the training.

Train Your Brain: Part II

The SOS (Something of Substance) runs are hard but they are the bread and butter of the plan. You’re essentially running at or faster than your goal pace. As each week passed, and the mileage increased for those runs, I would sometimes doubt that I’d be able to nail the paces. I’d have to remind myself that I’d done it before, that’s it’s just ‘x’ amount more miles. It’s hard, but I would try to not sabotage my run before I even started. Positive thoughts. Accept the challenge, and just do it.

I found that these runs really built my confidence about my goal pace and also helped me internalize the pace. What I mean is that as each week passed, my body just did the pace. I didn’t have to rely on my watch to guide me.

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The 8:45 pace became home.

The 8:45 pace became home.

Garmin stats from NYC Marathon. 8:50 average...five seconds from goal pace.

Garmin stats from NYC Marathon. 8:50 average…five seconds from goal pace.

Read The Book (and join the club)

I know that sounds so obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people who’ve asked questions about the plan (from the Facebook group which you should join if you’re going to use this plan), simply didn’t read the book. I also followed a lot blogs from people who used the plan and one thing I often saw was they re-adjusted their goals once they grew into the paces/workouts. When I would see/read them do that, I would recall page 151 of the book: “Ask yourself if, when you first began training, you would have been happy with your original time goal. If the answer is “yes,” then why jeopardize training…?”

The book is sooooo thorough and explains everything. Anytime I had a question/doubt about anything, I would go back to the book. At the beginning, I was running the Easy Runs too fast and then in re-reading the book,I saw how it stressed these be done at easy pace. Once I modified, I felt the difference. Easy means easy.

I mentioned the Facebook group above. It was very helpful having a forum to go to with people who were using or have used the plan. Luke Humphrey, co-writer, is very active in it and answers a lot of runner questions. I was also congratulated by Keith Hanson himself 😀

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Reconsider Racing During Training

Unless you’re going to use the race as a training run, like legit follow the prescribed pace for the workout, I wouldn’t recommend to “race race” during the plan. My reasoning is that if you run a race and go all out, you’ll need recovery time afterward which means you’ll miss a few days of the plan. And because it’s a tough plan, going back after a fast race, to me, is risky. I did not race throughout the entire time I was using Hanson’s.

Eyes on the prize.

Be Ready to Make Sacrifices

I wrote about how not working helped me in being able to follow this plan and be successful. And even without that work commitment, I had to make some major adjustments to get each run in. A lot of these runs were done at crazy o’clock in the morning before my husband went to work. Some of these runs were done in the afternoon Arizona heat, as that was the only time I could get it in. When I went to visit my sister in Ohio, I planned in advanced when I would run (and ran in the rain on a few occasions, lol). I had to do what I had to do to make it work.

Many people who do have jobs have used this plan and have made it work. It just requires you to plan ahead, be disciplined, and stay committed. Hard, I know, but you already know going in that it’s 6 days of running. You gotta get it in somehow.

101 miles, 176, miles, 152 miles

June: 101 pre-season miles, 176 July miles, 152 August miles

198 miles, 184 miles

198 September miles, 184 October miles

But Don’t Sweat a Missed Workout

As you can see from the pictures, I did pretty good following the plan, especially at the beginning lol, and didn’t miss a whole lot of days. When I did take an extra rest day, I tried to have it be on an Easy Run day. The SOS runs are the biggies and I didn’t like missing those. That being said, if you have to miss a run, just pick up where you left off. I wouldn’t try to “make up” the miles. When I visited my sister in Ohio, I missed an SOS Tempo Run. So on my 16 mile Long Run day later that week, I did 5 miles at Long Run pace, 6 miles at Tempo pace, 5 miles Long Run pace. Bam, done.

Final Thoughts

Never once did I feel like I needed to do a 20 miler. I know that a lot of runners feel like they need to get to that major distance at least once in their training, but with Hanson’s, the three 16ers, the tempo runs at race pace, and the high weekly mileage was enough to make me feel like I was ready.

I absolutely love this plan. I felt that it put me in the best running shape of my life and I had never felt as confident going in to a race as I did at the start line of the New York City Marathon. I knew I had trained well.

And I met my sub 4 hour marathon goal.

3:58:40

3:58:40

–Have you used Hanson’s Marathon Method? What advice would you give to someone wanting to try the plan?

–Do you have a favorite training plan? 

–Are you a good plan follower?