“What? There’s only 2 weeks until the marathon? And only one week to the 25K trail race?? Where did all the time go? Can I get a recount or something? Who’s in charge of things around here?!?”
Oh, wait, that’s right…I did this to me, didn’t I? Well, that will teach me to put myself in my hands, won’t it? (Probably not :) ) Seriously, I am getting so excited about reaching the end of a year-long training cycle, and being on the verge of a major accomplishment in my life. I am about to do something I did not know if I could achieve (and honestly, I still don’t know it, and won’t until it’s done, but I believe!) This week’s training spanned New Year’s Day, and with it the obligatory looking back/looking ahead…I covered all that in this post. Many new goals and challenges are in place, so there will be some extra stats at the end of each week’s summary moving forward…I like crunching numbers, because they help me keep the bigger picture in focus – sometimes we get too involved with the bark to notice how majestic the tree is, let alone the grandeur of the forest; stats are one way for me to keep the pieces in scale with the whole. So let’s take a look at how they piled up this week:
Sunday 12-29: Long run – 3:58:00, 21.2 miles O-M-G!!! This run made me truly appreciate the value of having a running buddy when things get tough. The Striders set this up as the Longest Long Run before the marathon, with support riders on bikes, and an unbelievable aid station, complete with homemade chicken noodle soup – I have never in my life been so grateful for a bowl of hot broth! The course was set up as two loops of 10.5 miles around and through one of the large county parks on the city’s west side. Some people chose to run only a single loop – either those not running Chevron this year, or running the half instead of the full – and I came very near to being one of them. I run significantly slower than almost everyone else in the club, so I did the first 10 miles essentially by myself, at the very end of the pack. I saw others, because we ran a couple of out-and-back sections and circular park roads, so I received plenty of encouragement along the way, but I ran alone…with only my own thoughts to keep me company; since I train like this 99% of the time, I’m used to it, and I expected nothing different. My surprise and relief came at the halfway point, as I was sipping soup and trying to convince myself to go do the other half, which was becoming a losing argument. (This is why my long runs are normally out-and-back, because giving up won’t get you home – I know who I’m dealing with here!) Right about then Rosemary (a wonderful woman from St. Lucia with the most musical accent I have ever heard) looked at me and said, “Aren’t you going back out? You have to, because I have to and I can’t do it alone!” So that decided the issue for me – very few things will motivate me more than someone saying they need my help. I warned her that I was going to need to run much slower than she normally did (her pace is about 2 minutes per mile faster than mine) and she said that was fine – she was tired and just wanted to get the miles done; if it meant walk-run intervals, and shuffling along, so be it…and with that we were off! We held a nice, steady 10:30/mile for the first 5 miles, chatting and getting to know each other, and the miles passed quickly! When we reached 16 miles, with 5 to go, her back began to ache (she had not run at all in nearly a week, and she was feeling it) so we began to walk 1 minute intervals with some stretching breaks – I was grateful for those, as well! The final 2 miles were really hard for both of us – her back had been joined by my ankles in the crying corner – so naturally we decided to push a little harder and get it done: 20 second sprints with 2 minute recovery! We were quite the pair “sprinting” our way back to the finish line – but we got a standing ovation and a roaring cheer from everyone waiting for us; we were the last two in and nearly everyone stayed until we made it – what a great group! And we beat the self-imposed 4-hour mark we decided on when we set off together… added zest to an epic run!
Monday 12-30: Recovery/rest – walked 1.01 mile, 17:31 At some point I really need to shift my long runs to Saturdays; having to go back to work and be on my feet all day kind of makes the “rest day” a moot point; in any case, I just went out to walk my streak mile and try to limber up the joints a bit. It bothers me that my running is not limited by my endurance level or aerobic capacity, but instead by my pain threshold – I can run faster than I currently do, but only at an exponential cost of pain in my knees and ankles…if I do a 5K at sub-25 pace, I can barely walk afterwards; but drop into turtle gear, and I can keep going 10 times as far before it gets bad; I could walk a 100-miler non-stop, if I didn’t mind taking 25-30 hours to do it :( I guess I am never destined to be a speedy runner again, but I’m sure determined to finish everything I start; if I have to choose, I choose to endure!
Tuesday 12-31: Maintenance run – 5 miles, 52:01 It took some determination to make myself do the 3rd and 4th miles – after 2, my legs were ready to go home, in spite of what my mind said! But I pushed ahead, and eventually they gave up complaining and got with the program, and the last mile home felt smooth as glass.
Wednesday 1-1: Resolution run – 3.1 miles, 31:17 Happy New Year! I had intended to meet the Striders running club for a group run, but when you polish off half a bottle of really smooth vodka the night before, plans will get get changed, right? So I did my own personal 5K to celebrate one full year of running, and look ahead to an even more exciting year to come. This run also completed the Runner’s World Holiday-to-Holiday Run Streak in style – 35 straight days, 180 miles in all!
Thursday 1-2: Resistance run, 5 miles, 53:50 I am enjoying these runs in the grass more and more – it’s such a nice change from pounding the pavement, and engages more muscles as I adjust to the constantly changing footing. The going gets tougher each week as the grass gets higher, so I get “free” progressive resistance in the bargain – what a deal! This workout, along with my overpass repeats, will be some of the secrets to my success in the future – and a sure way to prevent getting bored, as well.
Friday 1-3: Maintenance run – 3.1 miles, 33:12 It was nearly full dark by the time I got on the road, but after getting a “promotion” at work (my supervisor quit, and so the 2nd man and myself both moved up a notch; no extra pay, just more and different responsibility) I really needed to put the body in motion and let the mind spin free for a while…running is great free therapy!
Saturday 1-4: Rest day – walked 1 mile, 15:09 I wanted to go run some trails today; I wanted to get in a good practice before next week’s race at Bandera; I didn’t want to catch the cold/flu/whatever bug that everyone else in the house is down with…guess which one came true? So I walked a mile to keep my streak going, and now I’m bundled up, channeling a cold-medicine commercial – sniffling/sneezing/coughing/aching/stuffy head/fever – and hoping I feel better tomorrow; just in time for the bottom to fall out of the weather again…at least I don’t live in the northern third of the country, which is now unsuitable for human life as we normally define it!
Total for this week: 7 runs, 39.4 miles
Total for December: 31 runs, 165 miles
Total for 2013: 210 runs, 817 miles
Total for January: 4 runs, 12.2 miles; #runthisyear goal 0.9% (19.5/2014 km)
#ncrstreak: 38 days, 189 miles
Living Water fundraising to date: $12.00
So it has been a good week to end a year with, and to begin one as well! In other news, I am well on my way with another of my challenge goals, to run 14 races in 2014 – this week I added two more to my confirmed schedule: I registered for the Brazos Bend 50K trail run in April, the one sponsored by the HATR’s; and I mailed in the registration form for the first Spring Series race of the Houston Area Road Runners Association (HARRA) – which I also became member of today – the Buffalo Wallow 6K XC Race, in February…these two races also earn points for my respective running clubs in their competitive series for this year, so my running benefits the group as a whole; one more step to making my efforts count for more than just me! I think I could get really used to this idea…it’s a lot more fun than just running alone :)
How well did 2013 meet your expectations?
Are you on track to start a new year off right?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments!