Going Big or Going Home 3.0: sub-2:37 project
Hi, remember me? I used to write a lot about trying to qualify for the Olympic Trials. Then I qualified and I kind of ran out of material. But then a really cool thing happened (depending on who you are and how you look at it) and the slate for me has been wiped clean.
A lot of people have asked me what I think about the new Olympic Trials standard (to catch you up, in 2016 and 2020 you had to run sub-2:45 to qualify for the Olympic Trials. For 2024, you will have to run sub-2:37. In 2015 my PR was 2:48 and I lowered it to 2:38. The fastest marathon I ran in the 2020 cycle was 2:40, but had the day worked out a little differently it was going to be a 2:34 - 2:36). It's funny how people approach the question with me. I get a lot of,
"heyyyyyy (sad voice), how are you feeling about the change?"
"you don't have to answer this if you don't want to, but...."
"well that's a bummer, huh?"
DO YOU ALL NOT KNOW ME?
I am so freaking excited about this. Training never felt as fun as when it was do-or-die in 2015 and I HAD to run a PR in order to qualify for the Trials. I just couldn't catch that magic again in the 2020 cycle. I think a big part of it was that I was in such a weird space. The main focus for me was to just not F up my qualifying race, since 2:45 was well within my wheelhouse. I was more worried about NOT qualifying than qualifying, and that made it feel pretty icky. Running when you feel like you have nothing to lose and everything to gain is a lot more fun than when you feel (rationally or irrationally) like you are "just" trying not to be left behind.
So, when I learned the standard was lowered to 100 seconds faster than my PR I felt a jolt of excitement I honestly haven't felt in a while.
My plan for 2022 is to run the Eugene Marathon in May to get back into the swing of training, and then go for the standard at Philadelphia or Twin Cities in the fall. I am leaning toward Philadelphia currently - my sister and brother-in-law just adopted 3 kids and I would love any excuse to go back and visit :)
So, what's the same and what's different from the last time I shared this journey?
-I'm really hungry for this goal and am already having to remind myself BALANCE. It was hard not to wake up today and decide that I am going to do alllllll the things and burn myself out before next week. Not that I have any personal experience with that or anything ;)
-I'm going into this unsponsored. I turned down an offer to be named to the "alum" team from the company that had been sponsoring me. There are quite a few reasons, but a big one: the words I use about myself matter. Calling mysef "alum" made me feel like a horse being put out to pasture and I AM NOT DEAD YET. Plus, being unsponsored gives me an opportunity to showcase a design that's been in the works for a long time. I can't wait to show you all.
-I still feel like I have unfinished business with this sport. In 2015, I was still working through the disappointment that was my college career. Right now I'm working through the disappointment that was most of 2019-2021. If I was going to quit, I could have. But I'm not. I've got miles to go before I sleep.
-I'm no longer dirt poor, only run bum poor. Remember my GoFundMe that people had STRONG feelings about? Well, the intent had been to help me bridge the gap from grad school to pro-runner. and it did. and I am forever grateful. Now I am self-funded and no one needs to waste hours of their lives bashing me on Twitter.
-I have a training partner for speed work!
-I'm self-coached and have a couple good friends who help me when I need to bounce around ideas / troubleshoot (this will undoubtedly be a post for another day).
-I have infinitely less free time. The pro-runner lifestyle where I did nothing but run and think about running was honestly a lot of fun. for a while. It was really only sustainable/realistic through the 2016 Trials. I wouldn't go back to it now if I had the chance, even though at the time it was exactly what I needed. I think part of what made the 2020 cycle tough was transitioning into running and working. I've got it figured out now, and I have a much better reference point for what it takes to structure training around work, and when to set boundaries.
-I'm less naive. I think in some ways this is good and bad. I definitely had a vision of what my life would look like after the 2016 Trials and a false sense of neverending improvement. I've had my heart broken a few times since then, in new ways, and I've seen.some.shit.
The biggest surprise only 16 hours into the new year? There's going to be a lot of un-learning to do. As I was writing a January training plan for myself I observed that I was being negative about it. A lot of my feelings revolved around, "things never work out the way you want them to / think they will. Why will this be different?" WHAT? This has never been my mindset around running/training. I dug a little deeper with myself and I think I've learned to expect disappointment because what HAS worked out the way we thought it would in the past 2 years? It was a good first lesson about mindfulness for sure.
To kick off the year and the official start of sub-2:37 training I renewed my USATF membership and just scheduled a full blood work panel to make sure all cylinders are firing. The last thing my cheap ass wants to do is waste that $44 I just spent on my USATF membership, so LFG!!!!!
Here's to a new year, same (ultimate) goal, and a little more incentive to get it done.
2016 Trials - I never wanted that training cycle to end
2020 Trials. True story I HATE this photo. I mean, it's not a bad photo by any means. I just remember how my body felt (2 weeks of antibiotics and I'm pretty sure I had COVID, so body felt pretty awful), I was burned out, and this fist pump was me trying to convince myself I wanted to be there.
From a fall track sesh. Older, wiser, stronger, and giving even fewer ducks.