When I started the year I only had 1 goal in mind, and that was to break 4:00 in the marathon. I had hoped to do it last year at the Chicago Marathon and had crashed by mile 18, but still wound up with a respectable time for a first marathon. This year I would learn from my mistakes and become better trained. I dealt with injuries early in the year, but then got myself into a training groove.
Building up mileage became important for me. I had initially entered the NYC Marathon lottery on a whim not thinking I even had a chance. When a wedding was moved I jumped in and entered the Chicago Marathon Lottery as well. I had hoped to get into 1. Well I was either lucky or cursed since I got into both. NYC was just a 12% chance and 60% for Chicago. I knew I needed the mileage now so that I could bounce back from Chicago and run NYC just 3 weeks later.
I also planned ahead since I was doing Dopey Challenge at Disney in January and knew I wouldn't get a full cycle to train. I started doing the training for that during my training for Chicago. I would stack my weeks so I would do a longish and long run on back to back days. Twice I would run 5,5,10,20 miles on consecutive days. I averaged 40 miles a week during the first 16 weeks and topped myself out at 60. I was running every day and felt quite strong. I broke every single one of my PRs from 5K to Half Marathon without even meaning to during this stretch.
At some point the conversation of topic turned to becoming a Marathon Maniac. I checked out the criteria hoping that my 3 races would get me there. Minimum level was 3 marathons in 90 days. I used a handy dandy calculator online and Disney was 92 days out. Damn! The seed had been planted though. I had signed up for the Rock and Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon just 2 weeks after NYC, but they offered a marathon too. It helped that Mo was running it so I wouldn't be on my own. I needed to wait and see if I was going to attempt this nonsense.
Chicago came and went. I finally broke 4 hours, but didn't run as well as I had liked. Since I hadn't run with an all out effort I was actually feeling OK after a few days and even raced a 5K before heading to NYC. The weather conditions meant that NYC was just for fun, but I broke 4 hours yet again. By this point I knew I would be OK for Vegas and told Mo I could pace her to her goal of breaking 4 at Vegas. I didn't promise much more than that since I had never attempted anything like this before. I ate and drank a little too much before the race, but still kept us where we needed to be for the first 12 miles before Mo couldn't take anymore and needed to switch to walk/run intervals. She sent me on my way and I ran my first negative split in a marathon. I not only hit the 3 marathons needed for Maniac status, I did it in just 36 days. I also ran all 3 under the 4 hour barrier which seemed crazy to me 6 months ago.
I decided I'm going to spend the early part of 2015 embracing my Maniac status. With Disney in January and plans to run in Bayshore in Traverse City, MI in May I decided to add Circular Logic in Indiana in March. This would put me at 6 states in under a year. I decided why stop there since 9 states would put me at Iridium Level. I was going to do a 50K at Devil's Lake in July, but that got nixed so I could visit family and run the Aspen Valley Marathon in Colorado. I'm going to instead run the Wisconsin Marathon in Kenosha in May. The last one to get me to 9 states will be at Little Rock in March. I looked at a few races, but decided on this one since it helps keep them somewhat spread out. My shortest gap is 3 weeks which I like a little better than 2 weeks. Once again I'm overachieving since the feat of 9 marathons in 9 states will be achieved in 280 days and not the 365 allowed. Once Colorado is done, I will reverse taper into an actual training program for what I hope to be a fast fall marathon. By that point I hope to have the confidence to let loose a bit like I've finally done for the half marathon.