Definitions of "Providence" according to Dictionary.com:

1. The foreseeing care and guidance of god or nature over the creatures of the earth.
2. God, esp. when conceived as omnisciently directing the universe and the affairs of humankind with wise benevolence.
3. A manifestation of divine care or direction.

4. Provident or prudent management of resources; prudence.
5. Foresight; provident care.

I'm not a religious or even a particularly spiritual person, but running the Providence Marathon today, I figured it couldn't hurt to think that maybe the stars would align and this would be my day to qualify for Boston. I've trained more this winter than ever before for a marathon. My half marathon times have been awesome for me. This could be it!

Not the case.

I ran a great race, right on pace give or take a few seconds, through the first 20 miles. 20 miles on pace! I'm very proud of that. Keeping that pace after mile 20... not easy in 80 degree temperatures.

While the rest of Rhode Island was enjoying the lovely sunshine and warm temps in their flip flops and shorts, those of us running the Providence Marathon were cursing. Why, of all days, did we have to have this weather?

You see it's not just the heat that's bad. It's what the heat does to you. Or to me at least. I take water and Gatorade from every fuel station I pass, but I don't drink all of it because I have a sensitive stomach. By mile 21 in 80 degree temperatures, my body was CRAVING fluids. I tried to take more earlier, but I knew it would come down to one problem or another -- stomach pain or dehydration. 

When I passed some waterways in the 20 mile range, I was tempted to jump in. I'm not even kidding. I was overheating. The next aid station I hit, I walked through it and drank several cups of fluids. Another big mistake. I started running just past the last volunteer handing out Gatorade and 30 seconds later thought I was going to throw up everything I just drank. I didn't, but that feeling never went away.

Another issue for me: I absolutely hate long stretches of roads or trails. A long stretch where I can see like 1/2 mile down the road is a nightmare for me. I thrive on courses with lots of scenery, spectators, twists and turns. Providence Marathon did not have a lot that, other than a couple of twists and turns. Very few spectators. A lot of residential streets and bike trails. A lot of boredom for me. Some people may love that. I just can't stand it. Too much time to think about every step.

So, combine the heat, my exhaustion, my nausea, my boredom with the lack of spectators and long stretches of straightaways... And I had a bad race. Or at least worse than I would have hoped.

But even with all that said, all of those excuses, I still think it was a mental battle I should have overcome. I had a few miles early on, including a few on some big hills, when I could have gone a little slower. Not much, but a little. That may have helped stay on pace till mile 22 or 23 at least, so I would have had fewer miles to suffer through in the heat at the end.

I also psyched myself out. Looking back at my Garmin stats, my 8:20ish pace dropped to 8:45 at mile 20. I remember it freaking me out, because I didn't have that much space to play with to qualify for Boston, so I tried to run the next mile fast. My "fast" at that point was only 8:35. Just a half hour earlier my fast was around 8:00 pace. I started really freaking out. I started to think maybe I won't be able to do this... THAT did me in. Once that thought entered my head everything in my body hurt. I started noticing every pain, every blister, my dizziness from the heat, my heavy legs, my heavy clothes from dumping a glass of water on myself... Just awful. I let in that seed of doubt and I let everything get to me.

Not my wisest move.

I honestly don't know that I could have BQed today, even if I overcame all of those mental and physical challenges, but I think I could have done better.

I'll just chalk up this race to more marathon experience. I'm glad I did it. And I'm looking forward to the next one even more.

Final time: 3:51:32 -- 7 seconds behind my NYC Marathon time, 10 minutes and 33 seconds away from Boston qualifying time.
 
 
I can't believe it's marathon weekend.

It's now almost exactly six months since my last marathon. I've had six months to think about all the mistakes I made in NYC. Six months to wish I hadn't gone out too fast then. Six months to prepare for what I have to do this Sunday. Now it's all passed. I've done everything I can do. I just have to wait and see.

In the running coach class I took two weeks ago, i learned a lot about visualization. Visualization is a powerful tool that well trained runners use to prepare for an upcoming event. The thinking is if you are very focused and visualize something from start to finish, even the seemingly impossible, it actually can happen.

Here goes an abbreviated version...

I see myself at that starting line, waiting with anticipation. I hear the starting gun and go -- SLOW! I picture myself running along the water, nice and easy. I visualize myself picking up the speed just a bit, maybe, after a few miles in. I see myself running up a few hills, enjoying the change. I see my family and friends along the route. Reaching the half marathon mark. Starting to run at that threshold of pain, so my hip joints don't explode! Taking my water and fuel. Reaching the 17 mile mark, one of my least favorites. Tuning out the boredom and the pain. Reaching the 20 mile mark! Getting excited now. Just a few more miles. Mile 22, 23, 24... Time to let it all out now! Finally closing in on that 26.2!

Boston Marathon will happen one day, but providence must come first.

All I have left to do now is think.

Oh, and go to the expo tomorrow. Yay running stuff! :)
 
 
Tomorrow is Friday, which means the next day is Saturday and the day after is Marathon Day! YAYAYAYAY!!!

Just a little excited here.

Despite the excitement, it's still hard for me to stay focused and positive all the time. A Boston qualifying time seems like such a tremendous goal to achieve. I'm having difficulty believing it will really happen. I have moments when I think it's in the bag... Like when I finished my last half marathon in 1:40... Then I have moments when I think I'm still far from my goal.

When I finished the NYC Marathon last fall, I was just 11 minutes from a Boston qualifier. And even then, when I didn't have nearly as many miles under my belt, I thought I could have made the time. I went out way too fast. If I hadn't done that I really think I could have finished in 3 hours and 40 precious minutes.

But I'd have to wait to try it again. I'd have to wait till this weekend.

The day is almost here! Must stay positive.
 
 
I just returned from a short trip to Florida, where my husband and I spent some down time with family. We enjoyed a spring training game, a couple of meals out, swimming for me, golfing for my husband and a movie - all within two days - plus I ran 26+ miles in that time. Not sure that qualifies as down time, but it felt like vacation and I came to realize just how much I needed it.

I've been a runner for many years. However, I hadn't attempted to run 40-50 miles per week until this winter. Now I think of a 30 mile week as light - a week when I failed to meet my minimum mileage for one reason or another.

And there are lots of reasons.

Working, of course, 9-10+ hours each day.
Keeping up with my friends and their new babies!
Recently helping my family overcome some challenging times.
Keeping the house clean.
Getting groceries and making dinners.
Doing the laundry (a never ending task for any active person).
Going to the usual doctor appointments.
Mixing in things like writing blogs and raising money for Home Base Program.

Not much on that list is unique to me, but it makes me a particularly tired girl when you add in the fact that I'm a newlywed who wants more *awake* time with my husband and I'm running 40-50 miles/week, most of which I have to fit in on the weekends or before work on the weekdays.

I'll be the first to tell you that I'm happy and lucky to have such a full life. When one of my goals, however, is to qualify for the Boston Marathon, I wonder if I'm  focused enough on my running to do it. This weekend helped me realize that I may just be ready after all.

I went into the short vacation disappointed in my training because I either cut out or cut short a few runs. I was tying up loose ends around the house rather than out on the pavement. The break it turns out did a body good.

On Saturday I ran 9 miles at 7:39 pace. That's just slightly lower than my 10K pace and I felt like I could have kept it up for miles more. It felt effortless.

On Sunday I ran 17 miles at 8:21 pace. That's faster than my goal marathon pace and it actually felt easy! I intentionally kept the pace in the 8:30s to start, expecting to be laboring by the end, but I sped up instead. I finished it feeling tired, but completely confident in my running abilities.

These runs could not have come at a better time. Not only am I just 40 days away from my marathon, at a point in time when I need all the confidence I can get to achieve a Boston qualifying time, but they proved to me that all my hard work this winter has paid off. Even though I missed a few miles of running last week, my body knew what it needed to do, and it even surprised me.

I know I have done what I need to do to achieve Boston qualifying time on May 2. I'm thankful that this weekend's mini break from the usual routine helped me realize that. My training is by no means finished, but I'm ready and so excited! Now to start a new week of work tomorrow... right after I wake up bright and early to hit the pavement.
 
 
Today's Workout: 10.25 mile run including Heartbreak Hill - 8:48 pace
Notes:27 degrees, feels like 17, and snow emergency on the way!

I live at mile 24.5 of the Boston Marathon route, just a few short miles away from Heartbreak Hill. As a lifelong runner, that makes it my mission to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Even the image at the top of my site reflects my goal: It was taken about one mile away from Heartbreak Hill, near the Johnny Kelley monument.

It's hard to train daily on the course for a race you're not invited to run. I even tried to join the running club for the Boston Athletic Association - the group that organizes the Boston Marathon - and received a nice big rejection email. That's fine. Just fuels my motivation.

But on today's run, I got to thinking:  Am I trying to qualify for Boston just to say "I qualified" or because I actually want to run that race?

I believe, or I hope for most people, that a great deal of pride comes with qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I know I'd probably break down in tears, like I did when I finished my first marathon, and walk around in a state of semi shock. I also think qualifying is a badge of accomplishment. It takes a great deal of time and dedication to run a marathon in 3 hours and 40 minutes (women age 18-35) or 3 hours and 10 minutes (men age 18-35). Sorry, guys.

Don't get me wrong. I want to run the race, but I can think of a dozen others I'd probably rather run more... Marathons in Europe... on islands... through mountains... There's so much to see out there and here I am running the last 10-15 miles of the Boston Marathon route almost every week. Will that take away from my enjoyment of the race, if that day comes?

Actually, no. I'll qualify for the Boston Marathon one day and be so proud that I did. But I'll be even more proud to run that race, see my loved ones on the sidelines and motor past the place I call home just a few blocks from the finish line. I don't think anything could inspire me more.

I can't wait.