Saturday morning (ok, at like 11:40 but still technically before noon, OK) I set out to decide my fate Feb 28th.
If it was another failed long run, either due to motivation or my toe or shin or whatever else the hell has gone wrong lately, I was going to cut my losses and change down to the half. While I feel like 5 weeks of some speedwork would probably get me into shape to at least fight for a PR, which seemed like a noble enough cause and a lot of fun to pursue, it also felt like giving up. So I gave little bunny foo foo one more chance to
stop scooping up the field mice and bopping them on the head do a marathon training run.
I spent 10 mins spinning out my legs on the trainer first, and then headed out into the sunshine. There would be no day but today. Perfect temps in the 50s and sunny, and a low allergy count left me no excuses. Today, it was really only me who could get in my way. I took off, slow but deliberately trying to avoid the gremlin in my head (and legs) that had plagued a lot of recent runs.
I wore my garmin simply because it’s hard to keep track of all the loops and twists and turns to get in a long run that ventures no more than 2 miles from my house. And also, Zliten asked me to so he could analyze the data and live vicariously through me. By the way, he takes his first run this week after his bear fight 3 months ago. I’m both excited for him and know he’s going to need a huge hug after because that first run back SUCKS. So does the second, and the third. Somewhere around the teens it starts feeling like you actually own your own legs again.
The first mile was very stiff and slow. While this streaking has taught me a lot, I still haven’t learned how to run a super slow mile on the treadmill, and Friday’s mile still lingered in my legs a bit. When the first few mile splits popped up, my first instinct was “ewwww” then “nope, that’s ok” because I didn’t care if I was running like a turtle today if it helped me get my miles in. I didn’t have my HR monitor on, but I’m sure the average would have been in the 130s. Not at one point was I breathing hard. This was pure frolicking in the sunshine, friends.
The miles kept ticking off slowly (around 11:40 average) and I ducked back into the house a few times to drop off clothing and potty and refill bottles and get gels and remember aquaphor before it was too late (yay minimal chafing). Finally around 12, I decided I had best head away from the house before it got hard and tempting to stop and I decided to take on the key route. I also got the number 22 in my head, because 10 more miles from that point didn’t sound too bad.
This route embodies three of my least favorite things – going uphill, lots of turns, and uneven roads. My pace slowed even more for miles 15-18 working my way around the teeth of the key. It got hard, but I didn’t walk, I didn’t stop, I just kept plodding. I may have been really, really happy when the light went red as I got up to it and got a quickie rest, but crossing that street twice was my only stopping point in the last 9.5 miles.
I kept willing myself away from the house, so I wouldn’t stop prematurely, but soon I ticked over to 20 miles, my bottle was empty, and I was starting to feel the “I’m almost running a marathon” fatigue begin to nip at my legs, so I turned home and finished at the end of my block and hit the stop button on my garmin at 21.3 miles. Much more of a random distance than I usually do, but I just decided I was done and that was enough.
I walked a quarter mile to cool down, spun 10 mins on the bike (yessss… this did wonders for my legs), and then took my victory chips and coconut water into the bathroom for the most painful ice bath I’ve ever taken. I was convinced my feet had frostbite by the end. Beer, couch, and delivery sandwiches ended the day rightly. #lessboozejanuary not #noboozejanuary in full effect.
I’ve realized some things.
I’ve got this huge wide base now. The kind of base where I can knock out this long run without much ramp up and also without dying. I may have holed up on the couch for a few hours and asked Zliten to bring me everything, but today I’m up cooking breakfast and batchcooking food for the week and plan to run and maybe swim or bike later. I’ve got some soreness in my legs, but nothing out of the ordinary.
In five weeks, I’m going to run a marathon. I’m not sure how fast or slow I’m going to go, but I’m going to toe the line with the intention to enjoy the journey through these 26.2 miles first, and race it second. Between allergies and work stuff and unpredictable weather and some lack of motivation to trudge/frolick for multiple hours solo, this has not been my most consistent training block, except in the fact that I have ran every day, and that has saved my ass.
I’d like to finish with something like 4:59:xx or better, but if not, I’ll coast in whenever I feel like it. Yesterday’s pace would have clocked me around 5:07. The pressure is off. I’ve learned so much useful stuff from this training block that it seems like the only way to celebrate it is with 26.2 miles whichever way they come.
Sometimes, you simply have to cast an ultimatum into the universe, or at yourself, and see where the dust settles. Last week, I was having a lot of mental torment because I went ahead and cast two of those thoughts out there – one with the marathon, and one with work. Obviously, one was more important and life-altering than the other, but both came back with the same result. Stay the course. Hang in there. Continue on.
And continue on I shall. Pressure off. Running on.