{Training Log} The Road to Boston

Shannon Wilkinson accepted into Boston MarathonSeptember 25th was a rather ordinary day for most people. But for me, and 8,000 other marathon runners, it was a day that would determine how we’d be spending the next seven months. It was the day the Boston Athletic Association was sending out final notifications to let registrants know if their qualifying times were fast enough to make the cut, and actually get in to run the 2014 Boston Marathon.

The problem was, there were only 5,000 spots still available.

Despite the email I received that day, it still hasn’t quite sunk in. I’m in the 2014 Boston Marathon. I really did it. It was just a year ago that I included in my bio on this site that I wanted to qualify for it. It’s only been a few years since I started running at all. Earlier this year, I confessed my decision to run a third marathon to see if I couldn’t improve my chances of getting in to Boston after qualifying by less than a minute in my second marathon.

Beating the qualifying time for your gender and age division isn’t enough, especially in a year like this one. Interest in running the marathon after the bombing last April is unprecedented. Nearly 3,000 people who qualified and registered were not accepted.

I was one of the 22,679 lucky ones.

Add to that, over 13,000 invited and charity runners, including all those who were unable to finish in 2013, and you have the full fiedl of 36,000 runners. That’s 9,000 more than normal.

Despite my continuing disbelief (Me, running the Boston Marathon?! But I don’t even think of myself as a runner!), I recognize that with six months and one week until race day, it’s time to start training.

I’m planning to follow the same 16 week training program that earned me entry to Boston, so that will start just as 2013 rolls into 2014.

Before that though, I have to re-build my base. I’ve mentioned a time or two, that I’ve been dealing with some health issues, including another concussion. That alone kept me from doing much more than lay on the couch for two months. Over the last month, thankfully, I’ve been able to restart my workouts.

I’m nowhere near 100 percent yet, so I’ll be experimenting with what’s actually possible for me with each training session. No more strictly following a simple plan, hitting mileage and pace goals regardless of how I’m feeling. There will be more decisions to make before, during and after each training session. Not ideal for me, but necessary if I want to be able to physically continue training.

Making it as easy as possible

I want to give myself a clear way of knowing that I’ve successfully completed my training. Since I can’t count on hitting the stats I used to track, I need to come up with something else. For now, I’m going to make it as simple as at least 30 minutes of activity, five days a week. I’m planning for three of those sessions to be running, and the other two can be as simple as a walk or gentle yoga class, or as intense as a spin class or long hike.

As difficult as it is for me to admit, it’s not so much about what I do at this point as it’s about keeping under the threshold that puts me back on the couch in recovery mode (which happened in each of the last three weeks — sometimes it takes me awhile to catch on). I keep bumping up against these shoulds, or rather shouldn’ts.

I shouldn’t have to take it easy.

I shouldn’t have to rest another day.

I shouldn’t have to do anything less than go all out in my favorite cardio classes. 

It’s going to require all my skills of observation, a fair amount of self-coaching and the willingness to be in a place of uncertainty much of the time.

You know, not unlike life.

How funny that I thought the hardest part was going to be qualifiying and getting into the Boston Marathon, when now, it looks like the hardest part will be just getting to that starting line on April 21, 2014.

Photo: Selfie in front of the St. Johns Bridge just after receiving the confirmation email that I was officially accepted into the Boston Marathon. (I was driving myself crazy waiting for the news so I decided to go for a trail run.)


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