First, a very nice article on Running Minnesota: http://runningminnesota.blogspot.com/2011/08/nichole-porath.html

This week is my first week back since Grandma’s. I’ve maintained decent mileage after Grandma’s, but it hasn’t been stellar (45-60/week). Starting up again with a defined plan and goal has been GREAT.

The plan for the next 5 weeks is to work back into mileage and get myself ready for an even tougher marathon training cycle. So, this week I started with 70 miles (which feels surprisingly easy, crazy to think that a less than a year ago 70 would have been a big week for me) and will bump that up gradually to 90-100 in the next month. The intensity will be a little lower, so it’ll be a nice way to introduce my legs/body to higher mileage again.

So, what’s the plan, you ask? I had a really hard time answering this question. I guess I had never really thought about what I’d do post-Grandma’s or post-qualifying. A lot of people congratulated me on the race and then would comment, “A huge PR! Wow! And you’ve only been training consistently for the marathon for a year! Gee I wonder what you could do with 15 or 20 months of training.” “Do you think you could shoot for the A-standard?” That obviously got me pretty excited.

As I said in the Running MN interview, I also really, really MISSED training after Grandma’s. I missed waking up in the morning and struggling to get my workouts, strength work, and all of the little things into my day on top of a demanding full-time job and a part-time hobby job. I missed chasing a “big” goal. I usually get so wrapped up in achieving goals that I don’t enjoy the “process” of achieving the goal. This was one of the first things I’ve done that I truly enjoyed the process, and recognized that during the cycle. Without any of this, I was completely lost. I NEEDED a new goal. So I emailed Jerry within a couple of days to ask him to write up a fall marathon plan right away.

He, very smartly, didn’t respond until at least a week after the race, which gave me time to cool off and think more clearly. I also realized that I maybe wasn’t as ready as I thought. I did a track workout about two weeks from Grandma’s and my legs were pretty shot on the cool down. I realized that I was not at all ready to crave this feeling yet. Mentally, I just needed more time. I also needed a bit of time physically.

We talked about a few things, including trying to shoot for the A-standard at either Chicago or NYC (where I was extended an offer to run in their professional women’s division), but decided that there was just too little time –either after Grandma’s to prep for Chicago, or after NYC to prep for the Trials. Well, I can’t say that I was that logical – I really wanted to take advantage of the NYC offer. I felt like it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. But, as Jerry reminded me, it would be too difficult to try to fit both in. I could certainly run both, and I’m sure both would be a lot of fun, but I’d do mediocre, which isn’t the goal right now.

So my focus will be on the Trials, trying to run somewhere in the low to sub-2:40s, and trying to place as high as I can. Jerry threw out a top-50 finish, which would be amazing.

It’s so nice to have a concrete goal again. It re-energizes me & gives me a purpose behind each of my workouts (during the hard workouts I literally ask myself if I think I’m pushing it as hard as the top 50 women in the US are… makes me push all the harder). I am really, really excited to chase down this huge goal.

Like I said, this week was my first week toward this goal: 70 miles and two harder days. I did a 6x1000m workout on Wednesday, which wasn’t very pretty. I finished my first repeat in 4:05… to which I thought, wow, could I really have lost THAT much so quickly? Have my legs completely forgotten how to run? The next reps were in the low 3:50s, so better, but still pathetically slow. I purposefully did these on the roads so I wasn’t constantly thinking about 200m splits, paces, etc — I’m trying to give myself a little break from the more-strict hard workouts that I know will be coming. I also tend to care a little less about my finishing times when I’m on the road… but even though I wasn’t trying to care too much, being THIS slow was obviously a little concerning.

I figured out later that day that I had set my watch to .67 of a mile instead of the correct .625. Haha! So the repeats were really in the low 3:30s. That’s still slow, but at least I’m not left wondering if God decided to take away my running ability completely. 🙂

Tomorrow I’ll use the MDRA 15k as a workout. My cousin and husband will be running the 5k as well, so it’ll be a fun family event :).

So, a great start to the training plan. I know I’ve said it more than a few times lately, but I am beyond excited for this next cycle! Onward to the Trials!!

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