Monday, June 22, 2009
For the first time since college, I'm doing a track workout in the morning. (And yes, that's me on the left being coached at one of those college workouts.)
To be honest, I'm a little nervous for the early-morning intervals. I keep times and monitor my pace during some runs: we run mile repeats every now and again, and two years ago Julie and I did some half-mile repeats on a loop course, but nothing at the level I'll be able to in the morning.
However, this is good. There is a goal here: Run fast! I want to run a fast half-marathon just to see how speedy I can be. It's kind of a silly plan, because really I'd rather do a four-hour run as training for an ultra-marathon, but this is good for me and it's good for the triathlon training. Also, it's just fun. I like that tinge of fatigue in my legs every morning and the accomplishment of running 10 miles at an 8:30 mile pace (that was Sunday morning) even though it hurt.
But there's one more reason. I think I'm faster than my times show. I run challenging, not fast, marathon courses and over-train (or at least don't taper) for shorter races, so I never gauge what my capabilities really are. I'd like to find out.
And here's the back story: It had been a long time since I had a bad race. College. Probably this really horrible 10K performance I had at Avenue of the Giants one year when I thought I was capable of running 6 miles even though all I'd done for the past four months was eat crap food and drink.
Anyway, point is I'd had a good streak of runs. Until a few weeks back.
Sarah (my sister's friend) and I met up to run the Nitro Trail half-marathon in Pinole, a suburb in the East Bay. The course was fairly flat and fast. Sarah and I ran together through the first half of the run, clocking sub-8 minute miles throughout. It was awesome, especially because it was Sarah's first half marathon and she hadn't done much training. Pretty much, she's just awesome.
So I started dropping back around mile 8 (I think, it's all a bit hazy) but still had a really amazing pace going at mile 10. Then there was a fork in the trail, no volunteer in sight and I was surrounded by a forest of pink ribbons. Right turn or left turn or straight? I went one way, questioned myself and turned back. I found a different trail and followed two women (who turned out to be the winners). I finished in the remarkable time of 1:36. I ran approximately 11 miles.
The race director had no compassion for the unfortunate turn of events in my race. Had I made the correct directional decision, I prolly would have scored a sub-1:50 time, which is a huge PR for me. Instead, I pouted and cussed and was generally disagreeable over it.
The following weekend, I ran a much more challenging half in Nisene Marks -- hilly single-track trail sometimes so steep that I walking was the only option -- for "fun" and finished in just over 2 hours (2:00:16). It was actually my fastest half-marathon race finish ever, but I ran 1:55 and some change at the mid-point of the Seattle Marathon last fall.
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"So be prepared to quit. Do it willingly and with honest resolve. You'll be back. The marvelous thing about running is that you will never become jaded by it. Boredom, injury or anguish may overtake you from time to time, but the reward that first drew you to begin logging the miles remain untarnished and available -- always. Just put on your shoes and head out the door."