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Monday, June 27, 2011

Season 3: Marine Corps Marathon

Yeah, I can't believe it either. The new training season starts today.

One of the things I most appreciate about Hal Higdon's marathon training programs is also one of the things that I find most challenging: it's 18 weeks long. So, even though I won't run the race until the day before Halloween, I get to start training now, before the 4th of July. As I get further into my journey, I'll probably run races closer together (I was just told about the Boston to Big Sur challenge), but for now, I think it's a good idea to give myself the full recovery.

For now, I've got my sights set on the "People's Marathon" this fall, the 36th Annual Marine Corps Marathon, starting and finishing in state number 4, Virginia. I was thrilled to be a part of the quickest sell-out in the history of the race, as all 40,000 spots were taken in less than 24 hours. They say that an economic downturn often leads to an increased interest in road running, and looking at the recent signup rates for MCM and Boston, it seems that they're right.

The race got its nickname by being the largest marathon in the country that does not offer prize money. Those who run this race do it for themselves or for their cause, not for the money, which makes it perfect for what I am doing. And it helps that my parents live five minutes away from the starting line, which means no hotel costs. For these reasons and more, MCM was my obvious next choice.

And I'm going to try to qualify for Boston.

It's the next logical step. I've got to drop 8 minutes from my current time, which, admittedly, is going to be a lot more difficult than I want to think. In fact, I expect those 8 minutes to be monumentally more challenging to cover than the 24 I just beat. Still, last season I did not worry about pace while training, as I spent a great deal of time trying to overcome injury and heat. For this round, I'm going to focus on time for each and every run. Starting tomorrow.

Today was a cross training day, according to Coach Higdon, which seemed like a very good plan to me. My legs, in particular my quads, are still quite sore from Saturday's adventure in Seattle, so I thought that a little light biking would be perfect to break up some of whatever is left in them. I did about 20 minutes, just enough to break a light sweat, and called it an afternoon. My legs still hurt a bit now, hours later, but I feel (cautiously) optimistic about tomorrow's nice, easy 3-mile run. Will it hurt? Yes. Can I handle it? I think so.

This season will be about discipline. Appropriate, I feel, since this is a race run by Marines. Discipline means getting to bed at reasonable hours, waking up on time, and completing all training runs in good time. Tomorrow, however, will not be about time (though if I can manage to complete it at a strong pace, I'll be very happy). Tomorrow will be about getting back on the road.

We'll save speed for Saturday.

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