It’s been over a week since I ran the CNO Indy Monumental Half Marathon, which means this recap is about 8 days past due. Spoiler alert: a new PR. Hello! It wasn’t a perfect race, and I definitely made some mistakes in the first half, though I’ve tried not to dwell on that too much. Don’t get me wrong, this was a great step forward, and I’m proud to have run a PR. It’s also left me hungrier to go at it again in the spring, and I’m grateful for that. But, it wasn’t my mostly evenly paced race and maybe that has altered my perception of this PR just a little, though mostly in the form of wishful thinking. “If I had run smarter, maybe the PR would have been bigger.” (The universal chorus for all PR’s, right?)
This week is the somewhat predictable mix of nerves and doubt (plus excitement), a.k.a. the pre-race racing of the mind. I’m sure if you were able to record my internal dialogue it would be some manic jumble that would leave you awkwardly shaking your head and backing away slowly. At least there are some more reasonable thoughts in there too like “Did I do/think this last time?” So this is a record of my pre-race insanity to look back on next time and be like “Oh, yeah. You went off the deep end then too and you still had a fine race.” Future Sarah, here’s a glimpse into your brain 4 days before your target half marathon.
I suppose it’s inevitable that when you get to the end of a training cycle, project, etc. you stop to reflect on the leg of the journey you’ve just completed, and while I’ve done my fair share of reflecting on the specifics of workouts and paces, mostly I find myself pondering what it means to me to be on this particular journey. I am both a physical and, for lack of a better word, sensitive, person by nature, and I’ve found much credence in the idea that if you want to find your true passion you just need to imagine yourself at 10 years old. Our 10 year old selves had no imposed filter for joy, and for me play was 100% physical. My best friend and I were known to the school nurse as the Blister Sisters because we were always coming to her after intense bouts of monkey ring challenges for bandages. After school I biked, I ran around the woods behind my parents’ house. We stayed outside until our noses (and gloves) were crusted, until it started to get dark and we were forced in for dinner. Summers were swimming, barefoot games in the grass, more swimming. The sensitive kid in me had an intuitive handle on herself, which paid/pays off in being able listen to my mind and body.
This morning when I checked the temp to suit up for my run, I was greeted with the harsh reality of a 35 degree low. Yes, it’s late October, but this cold snap came on very suddenly. Sunday afternoon I was sitting on my porch in a very comfortable 70-something degrees. But even if it had been a more gradual descent into colder weather, and this morning hadn’t felt quite so jarring, I’d still prefer the warmer temps.
Photo is at the start of last year’s race (Indy Monumental).
This morning was one of those mornings with a little extra haze around getting up and moving, the kind where your alarm clock becomes infused in your dream and you’re in a half state of awake and not. After I gave in to the fact that the jarring, repetitive noise wasn’t coming from some mythical cloud, I got up and got ready for business. This morning was my last bout of speed work for this training cycle.
Greetings from the other side of the weekend, also known as Monday! It’s a rainy, dreary day so far, and I think my mood has followed suit, even if I didn’t mind the gentle, not-too-cold rain while I ran this morning. Some Mondays just feel especially Monday-ish, or perhaps after a long and tiring week last week I needed some extra weekend-ness, though as far as weekends go it was pretty perfect, weather included. It was warm enough to sit outside, but there was a little hint of fall in the air and the leaves have started to turn and blanket the ground. I will miss the warmth, but I also appreciate the seasonality. The forecast assures me that the warmth will be very short-lived.
Do you ever get so stuck in your normal routine that you sort of forget that it’s okay to move things around? You cling to one allotted time for, say, running, and then you hit an errant day in which it’s not really ideal (at all) and you scramble to try to rearrange everything else that is much less pliable than you and your running shoes. If you’re lucky, before you set your alarm for some ungodly hour you’ll realize that it might be okay to run after work instead, just this once, which coincidentally would mean a less treacherous run in actual daylight with your favorite tunes, versus a somewhat terror filled slog in the dark requiring an alert eye and ear for various dangers. In this not-so-hypothetical-fable, I ventured into the unknown this week—the land of the evening run.
I’ve been feeling the itch to write lately, and I remembered this little space of mine sitting here neglected, so I blew the digital dust off my login screen and am sitting here wanting to say everything and nothing (but mostly everything).
First thing’s first, I’m gearing up for a half marathon and training is going swimmingly. I am loving my workouts, I am hitting my goals, and I am getting more and more eager to see what happens on November 4th, with the appropriate amount of nervous energy also starting to accumulate. My grand 5K experiment last spring resulted in a PR, though not until August when I was starting my half marathon build-up. It took me awhile to get the hang of 5Ks, and I learned many times over that they are not easy and, oh my, they do not feel short. I had some fantasy of them feeling like the first 3.1 miles of a half marathon I started too fast, which is to say I wanted to feel like an winged goddess for an effortless 3 miles and then stop. As it turns out, you can also start a 5K too fast and that least lone mile can feel like a small eternity. The silver lining was figuring out what it really felt like to run hard, and discovering that it feels, well, really (really) hard. It’s been nice to return to longer forms of speed work, and also to be hungry for a longer race. It’s possible I’ve confirmed, for myself at least, that my propensity is for longer distances, but I’m glad I shook things up and tried something slightly uncomfortable and new.
Last weekend I raced my third 5K of 2017, and while my experience during the actual 3.1 miles kind of stunk, for some mysterious reason I find myself still wanting to wax poetic about it. Don’t get me wrong, the race itself was great. I appreciated the fact that it was a larger 5K and that I felt some nice camaraderie with my fellow hoofers. It was well organized, the location and course were both good. It was a well designed loop, and I appreciated not having to go out and back as a change-up to my last two races. The post-race atmosphere was also fun. My performance, however, was the lackluster piece. I finished in 20:59, which isn’t terrible, it’s just not an improvement over last month’s time, really.
I spied this morning’s speed workout on my calendar last week, and was nervous about it. I attempted this workout 2 weeks ago, and while it wasn’t awful, it wasn’t great either. This morning’s weather wasn’t exactly encouraging; it’s unseasonably cold today (in the 30s when I headed out) and windy. Wind is never a friendly addition to harder efforts, or at least not when you’re running into it. The prescribed workout was a 3 mile warm up, 5 x 1K (5K pace) with 200m jogs in between, and a 2 mile cool down. The goal was also to run the 1K’s progressively faster. Last time, I failed to do this, but I think mostly because I hadn’t quite visualized the paces. I don’t normally run kilometers, and I guess it was a bit of a cerebral malfunction. When I viewed the repeats by the mile pace required for each it made more sense, so I knew what it would loosely feel like. I also wrote the times on my hand because I think seeing them helped with the visualization, and also helped me hone in on each split’s specific effort. Small things.