Thursday, February 28, 2013

A better runner than blogger

At times in the past, I have been a better blogger than runner. Right now, that's not true — and not just by virtue of my inconsistent posting.

When I last wrote, I was coming off a good set of intervals that made me feel great (oh hi, runner's high!). Since then, I've also had:

* Two collegial group runs on absolutely gorgeous days.

* One three-miler in which I averaged a sub-9:00 pace.

* One three-miler in which I averaged a 10:39 pace because it had been snowing for about 24 hours straight, including during my run, and because it felt like 14 degrees. I still went out, people.

* One seven-miler done before work, done in subfreezing temperatures and done slightly faster than race pace. With stop-and-breath or stop-and-blow-the-nose breaks.

* A few "meh" runs. It happens.

* But most importantly, one eight-miler where I kept a 9:08 pace and could still walk afterwards.

Yeah, let's talk more about this run, even though I definitely went faster than I wanted to.

I didn't purposely plan a route that babied me through terrain or through weather; there were some inclines (one at the end, no less) and some stretches that went into the wind, and the reverse was also true. Factor in the tempo run two days before and the longer-than-expected shakeout run the day before, and this becomes a legitimately good run.

My splits were reasonably consistent, as was my mental state. I used the count-backward-from-100 trick to get me through mile one's never-ending hill, and shortly after that, I began suspecting I was en route to a strong effort.

Though my early hunches are often right, I didn't want this one to cause me to push too hard, or to send me into deep despair if I hit a wall. So I reminded myself that I'd barely done two miles and not to get too excited.

A little fatigue did sneak in after mile three and continued to flicker on and off for a few miles, but part of that seemed to be navigational stress. (I took a stretch of path I've only biked coming from the opposite direction.) Once I hit a familiar spot, I could feel my legs perking up again.

The only part that was a true struggle was the final half-mile. About a mile before then, I'd felt my energy — mental and physical — start to waver, but knowing the end was in sight kept me going.

It almost doesn't matter how fresh or faded I am, though; the long hill north on 60th from EP True to Ashworth, is going to take my breath away. Suffering is a given; the only question is how much.

This run was close enough to perfect to counter any panic over half marathon distance (it can overwhelm me when I haven't gone long in a while!), but far enough to highlight a few areas for improvement. I'd say I definitely deserved the chicken parmesan I dug into that night.

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