Here’s the short version of my 12-mile run last Saturday: I didn’t die. So - hooray!
Given that it is a) June and b) I live ten miles from the Catskill Mountains, my choices for a super long route was to pick one that was either a) flat and sunny or b) hilly and shady. I picked option b because the day was looking like it was going to be a scorcher. After that, it was merely a matter of strapping on Herr Garmin, plus a water bottle belt, water, phone, a couple of Gu, and a tissue or two and skipping out the door. I miss runs that don’t require four extra pounds of stuff. If anyone is up for being my personal aid station, let’s talk.
After that, it was just a simple matter of the running for 2.5 hours. Up the hills, down the hills, and twice around a flock of Canada geese who did not like the look of me.
I burst into tears around mile 11 because a podcast about a song written about the space shuttle Columbia crash hit me in the “feels,” as the kids say. Apparently, I am that kind of geek. Plus, something about pushing through double-digit mileage in super-humid conditions makes me extra emotionally vulnerable. My brain must think that if I won’t just sit down already, despite how heavy its making my legs feel, it will make sure I can’t see well enough to keep going and will finally stop already.
But I prevailed, then spent the rest weekend doing as little as possible, which is as it should be. Also, my right leg was feeling a little off. Nothing awful, mind. Just kind of like things weren’t lined up quite right.
Monday was an easy recovery run, which was OK but never felt completely comfortable. I had first mile syndrome, where everything sucks just a little, the entire time. When I woke up on Tuesday, my right lower leg, which contains the calf that always bleats the loudest, had moved from generally grouchy to actively painful. I’d developed a little bit of a limp. So I called my acupuncturist friend Laura — you remember Laura — and she squeezed me in.
A quick disclaimer about the sticking of needles into one’s body: I find it incredibly helpful and I was a super-sized skeptic before I tried it a few years ago. It helps that the practitioner and I know each other well — so well, in fact, that Laura took my 12-year old to the Peruvian rainforest with her 12-year old — but I’d still do it even without that connection. Your mileage, of course, may vary. And that’s cool, too.
By Wednesday morning, the leg felt good enough to run on but not awesome. Still, five miles with the middle three at my race pace of 11:22 went well. On the weekend’s long run, I found a penny — and then had my dog steal the remainder of the Chomps that fell out of my pocket when I pulled out my phone for a picture.
The rest of the runs during the past few days have been more or less uneventful, with one exception.
This past Monday’s interval day, which was six two-minutes at 85 percent of my maximum effort with a one-minute recovery, with a mile warm-up/cool-down on either side, was, simply, terrible. So terrible, in fact that those two minute fast bits wound up being closer to 1:30, then one minute fast bits. Which made my Type-A soul shrivel and die a little.
It was humbling how crappy that run was. And it led to the doubts that always creep up when I’m this far into any training, where the race is still a few weeks off, taper hasn’t yet begun, and I’m at my most tired. Right now I’m fairly certain that my goal time of a 2:30 half is sheer craziness. I can maybe string together four 11:20ish miles — but to add 9 more? Inconceivable.
And, yes, that word does mean what I think it means.
However, I’m equally certain that a little rest would go a long way towards making me feel better about all kinds of things. Once I get past this weekend’s long run — which is 13 - 14 miles (!) with the last two miles at race pace (!!) — I’ll be all about the hard core relaxing, even though there will be a couple of short speed sessions scattered in.
Right now, I just need to push through Saturday’s killer workout. Any tips for getting through a daunting-but-achievable training day?