I thought I’d try this whole writing thing again. Despite my absence in the blog world, I have been quite prolific elsewhere, namely email and my training log. I mean…those count, right? I probably could have started this post with a smidge more flare. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” No? Perhaps I’ll just jump into a summary of what’s been going on instead.
I had a lackluster September half marathon (Indy Women’s Half). The race was a struggle the entire time, or at least after mile 4. It felt like someone had let the air of my tires and it was a slow fade to the finish line. It was the first time I struggled so mightily to hang in, though a huge pat on my own back for doing just that. My time ended up around 1:47, which actually seems kind of miraculous given how much I was trying not to walk. I’ve run this race before, and I’ll be honest. It’s not my favorite, but perhaps that’s because I’m 0 for 3 in having a good experience. The first year was a lot like my recent experience. It was much hotter than I expected, it was right before my wedding. I ended up running alone for long stretches of the race. This past year I knew I probably wasn’t going to run well. I was tired, and also dealing with a Vitamin B deficiency that had really started to hamper my training in August, though I didn’t confirm this issue until after this race. I ended up alone and soggy, as it poured the entire time. Crowd support has been sorely lacking for this event each year, so not much help there either. There was another attempt in between these two fails that was a black flag situation, though I almost positive it too wouldn’t have been great either. I ran 4 miles before the race was called, and I knew I went out too fast.
I ran the Monumental Half Marathon in November, which is where I ran my PR last year, and while this year wasn’t a PR, I rallied after the crappy September experience to come within a minute of last year’s time. This was a huge success after September, and I felt like I executed this race like a champ. Went out easy, ran negative splits. Celebrated with Fritos at the finish line. What in the heck else could I have asked for? I love everything about this race and have vowed to run it every single year that I am physically able. It is perfect. It is executed perfectly. I love the hype. It’s a fast, tight course. When I walked into the convention center to hit the expo before the race I started to tear up. That’s how much I love this race! Despite claiming I had
Despite running my favorite race and having a decent go at it, I started to experience a little bit of burnout. I was feeling a little blue about working so hard over the summer and not seeing grand results, though in hindsight I think I just needed some downtime and recovery. I ended up taking a solid week off around Christmas, which was exactly what I needed. I won’t say it was a magic bullet, and I didn’t exactly leap right back into training with gusto. There were weeks in which I really questioned what I wanted to do, weeks in which I wanted to pull back, but a strange thing happened. On a particularly trying week I asked myself a simple question: what if instead of giving up, I just…didn’t? What if I just tried training in full for one more week to see what would happen, what it would feel like, to not give up?
The magic of not giving up was re-finding my passion and purpose in running, and, yes, it did feel magical because it was unexpected. I feel like I’ve fallen in love with it all over again and have been eagerly getting up at o’dark thirty to train for the last few weeks. I found myself not even really fazed anymore by the lack of sunlight. It turns out my headlamp is actually pretty awesome. Shit, the other morning I even discovered a new running route. It is, indeed, a new era.
What’s on tap for the next few months? With the help of my awesome coach, I am focusing on speed for the spring. No great increases in mileage, and I’m looking at 5 and 10Ks for the spring. I ran my first 5K this past weekend and realized how hard they are. I was almost nostalgic for the longer races that mandate you “not go out too fast”, but I know that for me, right now, I’m on the right track. I’d like to target a half (or two) in the fall, hopefully with a newly built base of speed and strength, but we’ll see how this next stretch goes first.
Anyone else find themselves calculating how long it will take until morning runs are lit by the sky? I mean, like, for real I’ve figured out how many minutes I gain each morning. Answer: one.