Two Birds, One Stone: Willard Get the Long Run on Race Day

by EJN Comments (0) Articles, Racing, Training

By Tim Ritchie

Part Two of following the Legion in their preparation for the Boston Marathon dealt with their training in general. Part Three now looks to the cornerstone of marathon training – the long run or the mid-build up race. Many runners choose to ‘check in’ on their fitness by simulating what they are going to do on Marathon Monday either by way of a planned long run or through a shorter distance race. This way they can practice their preparation, get in the marathon mindset and see if any adjustments need to be made in the final weeks. Now, in their words….

Lindsay Willard

Eastern States 20 Miler: 5th Place Female overall, 6:38/mile pace

Training doesn’t always go as planned. This season has been tougher than most, between injury and Boston weather conditions. You often have to log your miles on tired legs, so your body can really react to the final taper and peak for race day. I’ve held off of doing any gear up races until these last four weeks of training, to instead focus on the best combination of cross-training, physical therapy, solid long runs… AND so as not to flare up my injuries any further.

So, yesterday was my final long run attempt, but in a race environment. My teammate and I made the trek out to Kittery, Maine to run the Eastern States 20 Miler together. We didn’t taper leading up to this run, to make sure we would keep the pace a little less aggressive and not go into true race mode. The goal was to avoid the stress of hills on my hips, and to just focus on a solid non-stop effort, and experience the fatigue of 20 miles, and the pounding of pavement vs. the cushy treadmill.

With only one starting line experience under my belt so far in 2015, it felt strange but invigorating to have all of the jitters again. I had my standard PB&J bagel 3 hours prior to race start and was testing out the new anti-inflammatories from the sports doc. I wouldn’t wear my racing flats though - because this “was not a race”.

The miles ticked by and my hips were groaning from the start, but I COULD do this… just slower than I’d hoped, with our mid 6s average. It was a mental exercise to figure out a sustainable pace, to find a reduced stride length that I could manage with my groin issues, and to break the time up into stages of fatigue and muscle memory. The benefit of working a long run into a race is to see how human we all are… we all have this headwind… we all may have started out too fast… we all have trouble actually drinking from those tiny paper cups… we all can’t wait to cross that giant mat and smile!

Sometimes you just need to get out of your routine and run another course, run with other people, run at a different time of day – something to keep your head and heart in it. So we did that yesterday… 3 states, 20 miles, some interesting race commentary, and some great insight into what the Boston Marathon race day has in store for us.

Great job by Lindsay in not only testing out the legs/hips, but also getting back at it in a competitive environment and finishing high up. Lindsay was the 5th female (27th overall) in 2:13:19. For more on this race (and others) check out the race recap we published yesterday.

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