2023 Grandma’s Marathon and discussing relevant portions of the training log with the family indicated some aspects I could retain and some others that needed a little tweaking to continue racing a marathon. Faith-ing in the fitness gained over the past several months and trusting the athletic process were a bit easier on this go around. So was leaving some more room for cream and letting a missed repetition go or rescheduling an activity as the training plan progressed. The combination of heat and humidity got the better of me over the final 8 miles on race day, and I crossed the finish line with considerable help from an angelic fellow runner.
2021 Marquette Marathon, 2021 Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon and 2022 Marquette Marathon – in four recent tries (and far worse when DNSs were taken into consideration), such had become the nature of my streak of marathons in recent times. A review of my training log and discussions indicated few aspects that required some tweaking to race a marathon. Once I incorporated those tweaks, faith-ed very heavily in the fitness gained from cross country skiing as well as additional investments over the past eight weeks and left some room for cream, following a designated pace group with fellow runners felt gratefully smooth, strong and very much fun … earning me a new PR for this distance. Continue reading … “2023: Grandma’s Marathon”
Continue reading … “2022: Marquette Marathon (DNF)”
When I completed the 2020 Sunday Lake Marathon in October, little did I know that I’d have to wait nearly a full year before getting another opportunity at the marathon distance. The 2021 Milwaukee Marathon I had been training towards from early 2020 December (scheduled for early 2021 April) was postponed to sometime in 2021 October. The ever evolving COVID-19 situation kept me from looking for alternate events to replace the Milwaukee Marathon. Though I had signed up and been training towards the 2021 Whitefish Point Marathon (scheduled for mid June), the marathon deities had other plans and decided that tuning up my Assistant To The Chief Timer and Other Duties As Assigned skills was the priority. Continue reading … “2021: Marquette Marathon (DNF)”
The previous training cycle – spanning about 26 weeks from late April through late October of 2020 – wasn’t my first time following a training plan. But it was my first time doing a good number of other things along the way that represented an athlete lifestyle. The training cycle included several virtual events and I was even fortunate enough to be a part of some in-person events … something I didn’t think would happen once the world as we knew of came to a screeching (or screaming) halt due to COVID-19. Looking through the training log and being honest with myself, there were a handful of other things that I needed to do consistently – not only to continue living the athlete lifestyle but also to earn the performance (or result) that I know I was/am capable of. This training cycle – spanning about early December 2020 through
early April mid June 2021 – primarily focused on addressing these and see what it’d lead to in performance … should there be an in-person marathon towards the end.
After the 20-week training plan that culminated in the 2020 Holland Haven Marathon in mid-September, I had taken a week off before starting a 12-week training plan to continue working on my weaknesses. Maybe it was the cumulative fatigue of nearly 26 weeks of structured training plan OR a rather sudden change in weather (read: arrival of snow and frigid-ish temperatures) OR likely, a combination of both, I was starting to feel a monotonic decrease in motivation to keep up with the workouts in this new plan. My body seemed to take a bit longer than usual to recover from said workouts. Review of training material and chats with friendly mentors re-iterated the benefits of a short self-imposed break before mental burnout and/or physical injury compared to a potentially longer forced break. As a result, I decided to run the 2020 Virtual New York City Marathon in week #5 (or week #26 – if I am counting the first 20-week plan as well), end the plan and take a break to rest and recharge for the upcoming winter.
Had 2020 unfolded as any of the most previous years, I would have run the Illinois Marathon (April) as my target race in Spring and continued to train towards Marquette Marathon (September) with a handful of road and trail running events spread in between. But 2020 has been a year unlike any that I (or most of us) have experienced so far and COVID-19 has led to the postponement (if not cancellation) of a vast majority of races around the world including
- the Summer Olympics in Japan and
- the World Marathon Majors events
- Tokyo – elites-only event in March,
- Boston – moved from April to September as a virtual event,
- London – moved from April to October as an elites-only event and virtual for non-elites,
- Berlin – scheduled for September but cancelled,
- Chicago – virtual event in October, and
- New York City – virtual event in November.
I was/am fully cognizant of the fact that there are more important things in life than training for and running a race. Having friends whose livelihood depends on timing such events made me realize the value of such events beyond just getting another medal or even earning a new PR.
COVID-19, the Illinois Marathon would have happened on 25th April 2020 and the Grandma’s Marathon would be happening on 20th June 2020. Organizers of the Grandma’s Marathon had sent out the cancellation notice at the end of March. In mid-March, organizers of the Illinois Marathon had only postponed the event to later parts of 2020. But the uncertainties being what they are, they too decided to cancel the 2020 edition. In the grander scheme of things, I believe cancellation aligns well with the greatest good for the greatest number for the longest possible time philosophy, and I sure hope that I get to meet my friends I was supposed to meet at these events again and again. Both events offered a deferment to or registration discount towards a subsequent edition as well as virtual run option. Having had a sneak peak at behind-the-scenes actions in my community’s events, it was an easy decision to go with the virtual run option.
World Marathon Majors event. New York Road Runners (NYRR), the parent organization caring for this marathon, provided an option to earn a guaranteed non-complimentary entry in 2020. All I had to do was sign up for a virtual marathon (i.e., run 26.2 miles in a single activity along my chosen course) within a certain window of time, tag it as a race in Strava and wait for NYRR officials to verify it. So, I had signed up and expected to make this virtual marathon the last race of the 2019 calendar year. I was content with training towards 2019 Chicago Marathon and looked forward to being a part of the world’s biggest road marathon in 2020.
2019 Whitefish Point Marathon (Paradise, MI) and would have bested my then best time of 3:35:46. But a more rewarding opportunity had presented itself in the second half. I had no regret (I still don’t) accepting it and finishing with a time of 3:49:25. Teetering a few seconds per mile (or about a second for every 400 meters) on the wrong side of my then threshold pace in 2019 Grandma’s Marathon (Duluth, MN) had me on track for a similar finish time through mile 18. Once over the cliff, I had bonked hard and had ridden the struggle bus for the final 8 miles … eventually finishing in a time of 3:46:16. Though I was somewhat disappointed knowing that I had the potential for a faster finish, both were times – a year or so ago – that I’d have gladly kissed anybody’s feet to have earned. And the process of training for and participating in both these events were a memorable set of experiences on several fronts.