Across the nation, runners planning to run fall marathons are gearing up to start their training programs. The Greenway where I run each weekend is flooded on Saturday mornings with runners of all shapes, sizes, and fitness levels. The parking lot at the tennis court where the Greenway begins resembles a massive tail-gaiting party as runners hang out in groups and wave to friends and share sips of Gatorade from plastic cups.
The most common question heard on the Greenway at this time of year is, "What are you training for?" My answer at the moment is a glorious, "Nothing."
I'm sticking to my no-more-marathons-this-year rule. I've got a 5K race July 4th weekend, and I plan on running the Cannonball half-marathon and the Salem Lakes 30K in the fall, but I can get through both of those with pretty much my standard mileage. I would like to improve my "official" half-marathon PR. I've run faster half-marathons during the course of a marathon or on a training run than what my official time shows, and I'd like my official time to reflect what I'm capable of. Otherwise, I'm spending the summer just enjoying running.
I'm mixing it up, running with different friends, trying to fit in some trail runs, and keeping my long runs to a reasonable 8-12 miles. I do have a mini-goal of being able to complete a long run with the "fast boys" of my Saturday running group. Right now, I can hang with them for the 5 1/2 miles out on the course, but I'm so whipped from running at their pace that I can't stay with them for the return trip home. They say if you want to run better/faster than you need to run with better/faster runners. So I'll keep trailing these guys all summer in the hopes of one day finishing the run with them.
Now, let's talk about goals for NEXT YEAR. So many options to chose from! Here are a few ideas I'm toying with:
- Putting in another appearance at the North Carolina marathon. I tried to run it too fast in 2009 and it nearly killed me. I'd like to run the race in under 4 hours, my original goal, just to redeem myself.
- Marine Corp Marathon. I've heard great things about this race, scenic course, and it's close enough to home that we can drive there.
- Run a marathon in 3:30. Uh-oh. There, I've said it. A 3:30 marathon would be a big leap for me - almost 12 minutes faster than what I ran Boston this year. I'll have to have a really good year of running to meet this one, plus find a fast course. I wouldn't mind returning to Chicago and giving it a try there. Although just looking at the pace charts for intervals and tempo runs makes me want to puke.
- Trail marathon. This will happen at some point, just not sure it will be next year. For me, trail running means slower runs and I'd like to stay focused on improving my speed while I still can. But there's a great trail marathon put on each year in Greensboro, so I wouldn't even have to travel.
- Ultramarathon. Technically, an ultra is anything over 26.2. The standard ultra's are 30, 50 and 100 milers. The one-hundred miler is out of my league, but I'd like to give both the 30 and the 50 a shot. Again though, I doubt this will be next year. But I could see running an ultra a few years down the road. I suspect I'll be a "one and done" ultramarathoner, but it is on the bucket list.
One thing I may have to start contending with is no longer knocking out PR's every time I enter a race. For the first few years of running, no matter if you take up the sport at age 19 or age 90, you'll improve. You're conditioning your body and becoming faster and stronger. At some point, however, if you don't keep upping the training, a plateau will set in. I've been enjoying the "faster/stronger" stage for a few years now but I know the day is coming when I'll hit that plateau. I'm hoping it's a year or two off so I can get that 3:30 marathon in there first, but we'll see.
And that's it. Running with friends, running trails, a race here and there. Pretty laid back.
But wait till next year.