Tag Archives: Gansett Marathon

The Gansett Goal Post

I’ve been avoiding thinking about this for the last few weeks.

Thirteen weeks ago, I laid out my Gansett training plan – to use the term loosely:

I don’t really have a training plan; I’m basically going to do what I did when I trained for CIM, just a little farther and a little faster. Because 3:29 is fantastic, but I think I might be able to do a little better.

Well, I ran neither further nor faster in the weeks that followed. And I do think that I might be able to do better someday, but I don’t think it’s going to happen this Saturday.

The thing is, I’ve just been rather disinterested in marathoning this spring. I wouldn’t say burned out, exactly – just ho-hum. Like, I don’t really feel like I’ve been tapering these last couple of weeks, although my mileage has definitely dropped…

…but I don’t feel antsy about it. No taper tantrums, no annoying Taperworm nagging at me. I’m just running less, and that suits me just fine because I feel like I have a million things I’d rather be doing.

That may sound like a good thing, but I also feel out of shape. And I never had that build-up where I felt like I was really putting the work in. The whole training cycle has just been…meh. Forgettable, mediocre, et cetera.

I remember last fall, when I hit 70 MPW for the first time…it felt awesome. I really did want to get back there this spring, because as backwards as it sounds, I think that I actually start feeling better when I hit a certain training volume. I’m not sure whether that number is 60 or 70 weekly miles, but I do know that I definitely did not get there this time around.

Like just about anything else, higher volume running can be broken down in to a series of small decisions. To get there, you have to get your butt out the door that many more times each week.

And I guess that’s what it comes down to, for me, this training cycle: I didn’t. I ran almost every day, I logged forty-mile weeks, and I put my requisite long runs in…but when it came time to sack up for a mid-week long run or a double, I shrugged and declined.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty sure I’ll get across the finish line. But I don’t think the 3:25 mark that I had in my head last January is a realistic possibility.

So about that goal. Let’s call it 3:35. Over the years, I’ve run many marathons in the 3:40s and 3:50s on worse training than what I’ve done here this spring, so I should at least be able to do a little better than that. Assuming I don’t f*&k up.

Sounds reasonable, right?

Spring marathon training…day one

The woods were exceptionally steamy that morning…boggy and silent, but for the buzz of the cicadas. I shuffled up to the picnic area, took a swig of warm Gatorade, and sat down on the bench. I stripped off my tank top, wrung out the sweat, and used it to wipe the insect carcasses from my face and neck. “I am never,” I said aloud, “doing this again.”  

That’s a rather vivid memory from one of my longish training runs last August. Or maybe it was September.

At the time, I was still planning on doing an early November marathon. I don’t remember what distance I was running that day, but it was long enough for the whole experience to be completely miserable from start to finish: from the 5 AM wake-up call (you know, “beating the heat”) to the punishing humidity that really wasn’t any better in the early morning anyway.

The revelation was a rather obvious one. Training for a fall marathon sucks when you live in the south. 

I decided a while ago that in 2012, it was either going to be a spring marathon or no marathon. (The latter was a tempting idea, but I didn’t really trust myself. Remember how last fall I said I wasn’t going to do a goal-race marathon? And then signed on for CIM a few weeks later? Marathons always have a way of sucking me in.)

So I went ahead and registered for…

The…what? I know, I hadn’t really heard of it either. The Gansett Marathon is a tiny race in Rhode Island. It’s held the same April weekend as Boston (on the Saturday before) and maintains the same qualifying standards.

And by tiny, I mean…tiny. 2011’s race had just 162 finishers. There’s very little fanfare: no finisher’s medals or bands playing on the course or anything like that. Finishers get an old-school cotton tee.

“That sounds terrible,” said my husband when I described it to him.

But I think it sounds perfect. I’ve done New York and Chicago and Marine Corps and I’ll probably submit for Boston in 2013…big races are fun, but there’s really something to be said about just getting in your car, driving to the start line, and running. I’m kind of over the major logistical hassles of megaraces.

Gansett also gets points for: (1) having a fairly flat course;  (2) being within striking distance of a fun city to visit post race (boozing and Boston spectating, anyone?); and (3) being at exactly the right time of year. March would have been too soon, not enough time for me to recover from CIM and complete a quality training cycle. May would have been too late, too dicey, weather-wise.

(It’s kind of funny because the last time I did a spring marathon was back in 2005. I was living in Cleveland and ran the Cleveland Marathon, which was in late May. I did my final 20-mile training run for that one in slushy snow.)

Anyway. It’s been almost exactly a month since CIM, and I think I’m ready to go through this again. I purposely kept my mileage rather light in the last couple of weeks, knowing that I’d be starting to ramp things up soon.

I was also rather liberal with the rest day policy…ahem.

(Basically I just didn’t run that day if I didn’t want to run. There will be plenty of days in the coming weeks when I’ll need to drag myself out there. No need to force it during last week of the off season.)

Side note: thanks to everyone who recommended RunningAhead – my miles have a new home! It seems like a great tool and I’m excited to start using it. Of course, I’ll keep posting weekly updates here, too.

14 weeks to go until Gansett and the work starts today. I don’t really have a training plan; I’m basically going to do what I did when I trained for CIM, just a little farther and a little faster. Because 3:29 is fantastic, but I think I might be able to do a little better. It’s on, marathon.