While I rationally know it's because my quad-riffic effort was just over 2 weeks ago, I have a hard time accepting the equation quad + 2 weeks=no motivation and no energy.
As somebody whose self-description doesn't include serial racer--I like a sizable break between my race efforts--I would be content to just settle into Thin Mint season and enjoy the view. But that isn't an option, which is a good thing. SBS and I are lucky enough to head to Nashville in about 6 weeks to hang at the Sof Sole booth and rock and roll the half marathon, and well, my ego wants me to represent and make RLAM proud.
In my mind, representing means a sub-2 hour effort. (Let me say for the record: I hate discussing pace. My fast will never be really fast, but it might be faster than your fast, whereas it also might be your really slow. Takes all types, right?)
Here's the problem: I'm running far from sub-2 hour paces right now. When I took on the quad, I paid no attention to speed, and just let my feet fall lightly and frequently, as Chi Running, my second-favorite running book, recommends. The good news about that? I ran mostly pain free—a huge first for me—especially when I left my Garmin behind. When I did feel the need to geek out, I was averaging 9:30-10:00 miles, which was, I will admit, mentally painful to me. As somebody who used to be able to rip off sub-9's with few problems, running at capacity and barely eking out 9:45s isn't mentally easy to take.
So last night, I pulled out my third-favorite running book, Run Less, Run Faster, and calculated how I'd need to train to hit a 1:58 half. That training plan, plus the drop to sea level, would guarantee a sub-2, even if I only followed it for 6 or so weeks (that's what I told myself anyway). But I kind of winced when I looked at the half-marathon training plan
because I'd done 15 weeks of it preparing for Austin last year, and the biggest thing I remember about it is that it sucked the life and fun out of my running. Yes, I nailed Austin for a PR, but I still missed by goal by a minute, which upset me more than it should've. In the end, I'm not sure thrashing myself--I was injured the entire time--was worth it.
I put aside my doubts, though, and set out this snowy morning to do my first tempo run. Two mile warm-up, 3 miles at an 8:30 pace, 1 mile cool-down. Never mind I hadn't seen an 8 on my Garmin since last August. I gave it my best effort, and hit the 8:30, more or less, but threw in two or five catch-my-breath breaks which, I'm pretty sure, weren't on the plan. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I went 2.75 miles at tempo, instead of 3.
Overall, it was a decent inaugural effort, but I'm just not sure I'm up for intense training right now. And my left leg, that Achilles heel of mine, wasn't pleased after this morning's run. Plus, these days, I've got a workload more demanding than my almost 8-year-old, who is wearing my out with her newest drama queen phase (all I have to say is, Thank goodness for school uniforms). I know right now I don't need to tiptoe on that tightrope of physical and mental exhaustion.
Except that I still want sub-2.
Here's what I'd tell anybody who gets too obsessed about their times:
1. I can say with 99% certainty that nobody cares about your finishing time but you. People care more that you're fun to hang out with pre- and post-race, than they do about how fast you can cover a certain distance.
2. Not every race can feel great. Sometimes, the best victories are getting across the finish line when all the chips are down.
3. There will always be more races and more chances.
And here's what I'd add to myself:
1. I ran with my left leg wracked with pain for almost 3 years. I've been running for four months with minimal pain and that, I know, is more priceless than any AmEx ad. I should not jeopardize a good thing simply because I have an ego.
So for the next six weeks, I will continue to train. I'm going to run long on the weekends, and I may try to pick things up a bit now and then on weekday runs, but nothing as regimented as Run Less, Run Faster. I'm also going to cross train at least twice a week on the bike, with a little intensity thrown in there too. And it's time for me pick up those weights again.
In other words, I'm going on the Run Some, Be Fine plan. And I'm mostly fine with that.