When I signed up for my first Marathon, I needed a training plan. I used the “Finish It” Plan designed by Coach Christine Hinton from the book (Affiliate Link), Train Like a Mother: How to Get Across Any Finish Line — and not lose your family, job, or sanity by Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell

You can also read about so much more of my Journey to Ironman in my first blog…this was really more of an online training journal, and I never really thought anyone would ever read it…

For more of my Throwback Thursday videos, check out my YouTube playlist.

What follows is the blog I wrote pertaining to my training for the Rock and Roll Arizona Marathon, waaaaay back in October of 2014…

An hour after I published my last post, I bought a plane ticket to Phoenix and a race number for the Rock and Roll Arizona Marathon in January.  I committed to 26.2 miles with 18 weeks of training.  As my first full marathon, I figured I was already behind, so I hit the pavement hard.  Basically, I didn’t want to have to come back a third time in a row and tell you that I’m still sitting on the couch with the Nutella.

Logging a whopping 26 miles in the first week (including a soggy and cold 12 miler), the point was driven home that I am so ridiculously goal oriented.  It’s almost sad.  However, I’m flying through my workouts, and I’m enjoying the fact that I have a goal again!  I almost forgot the fact that 10 minutes after my registration, I sat back and asked myself, “What have I done?!”

In most detail-oriented race plans, elite racers (let me be clear, that does not include me) will have an “A” race, meaning their lives will revolve around this one race in their season.  For me, that’s Ironman Boulder next August (2014).  In the meantime, “B” races would be well-supported training days…finish lines that set benchmarks to measure progress toward the A race.  Then there are “C” races.  Certainly not throw-away races, but one does not push oneself through these events.

I haven’t decided yet if Rock and Roll Arizona is A or B.  At this point, I don’t know that it matters.  However, since I lie awake nights wondering if I can even finish a marathon distance on its own –never mind after swimming 2+ miles and biking over a century — I think Rock and Roll Arizona lies closer to B than A.  This makes me chuckle, because most people look at a marathon as a huge goal.  Many people I know make their first marathon ever their “A” race.  For me, it’s a stepping stone to a bigger goal.

After that first week of training, I got slammed with a lousy chest cold.  I lost my voice, and I was coughing all the time.  Every mile was a fight.  My legs said go, my lungs said, “are you nuts?  Knock it off!”  I went from 26 miles in week one to 7 miles in week two.  I’m still coming off of it, but I’m not going to let the cough beat me.  Week 3 goal is 30 miles, and as of this writing I have logged 17.

So, why Phoenix?  Several reasons.  I knew I would not be ready for a full-marathon 9 weeks after Boulder 70.3, but I wanted a marathon finish before Ironman Boulder next year that wouldn’t destroy me before the next phase of training.  I was thinking about Rock and Roll New Orleans in February, but nixed that idea when I saw the price of airfare.  Sorry, but if I’m spending that much money on a plane ticket, my dive gear is coming with me.  Then some friends of mine invited me to join them for the Phoenix race.  So at least I’ll be running with my friends — translation, they will smoke me like a trout, but at least we will be in the same town — post race happy hour!

Recently, I sat down with a hometown friend, and uttered the words, “I’ll be running my first marathon at age 40.”  I’m not sure why this phrase stuns me.  Either I can’t believe it’s taken this long to become a runner, the fact that I’m turning 40 in a matter of a few weeks, or perhaps I’m hitting a mid-life crisis and if I wait too much longer, a marathon would be completely out of the question.

Let me say it again.  I’m running my first marathon at age 40.

As I polish this post off (so I can go for a run), I think about my journey to this point.  How does a natural born swimmer, whose worst memories of gym class included the track, become a marathoner? Well, triathlon, for one.  It is humiliating getting passed by speed walkers at the Danskin.  Another reason: my running friends.  For so long, I was slow. I felt self-conscious about holding up my running partners, so I didn’t have any.  In the process of training for my first half-marathon, I somehow dropped time from my miles.  I started running with friends who would push me to go faster and farther than I ever had.  My first 8-miler was torture, but the high I felt after was incredible!  Then came the day I ran with a friend of mine around Wash Park.  In the first lap, he led me to sub-10 minute miles (as a reference point, my race times averaged 11:30 minute miles).  I think If I could have caught him, I would have beaten him senseless.  I had no shortage of ill words, but I kept up with him.  Later, I was grateful for the push.  I got my butt kicked doing something I thought would never happen.  Somehow, I learned to love running, and there are days where I crave it.

What is running to me?  Running is freedom…joy…peace…prayer.  Running is where I work out my issues and schedules and plan my days.  Running is where I write my blogs and create award winning motivational music videos (in my own mind, anyway).  I get to be in my head and dream.  If I can’t run, I don’t have a place to put my stress.  When I do run, I’m happier.  There is a great t-shirt I need to get that says, “It’s all good…I ran today.”

And by the way, I am not a treadmill runner.  I’ll hit the ‘mill as a last resort, but I can’t stand it.  It feels like I’m in a hamster wheel.  I want to see the scenery change, feel the crunch of the gravel, smell the fall air.  Outside, I fly.  I’m closer to God.

The road to IM Boulder includes another first.  By the way, I’m still slow…compared to many.  But compared to the Heather of 6 years ago, I’m a speed freak.

Did I mention that I’m running my first marathon at age 40?

Heather Jergensen

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