Someone forgot to tell me that the Eugene Marathon is less than a month away.
Excuse me while I hyperventilate.
It’s funny how races sneak up on you like that. The marathon seemed like a far off event for months and months and now WHAM (!) there is it, looming just around the corner. It is an uneasy feeling. I look at the calendar and realize how few workouts stretch between me and Marathon Day. The voices inside me start to question:
I should be doing something different.
Maybe I won’t be ready.
26.2 is still awfully far
My insecurities concerning the race are hard to quell, no matter how many miles a week I log.
Speaking of mileage, I’ve scaled back my runs this week to concentrate on some true quality workouts. I ran a hard hill workout on Tuesday evening and today I took on a nasty tempo run. Here’s how it went down.
The Workout: Run 10 miles near 6:50 – 6:59 min/mile.
Situation: I woke up early – really early – so I’d have time to finish my workout and still have time to get to the office. The alarm sounded and my stomach flooded with nervous, queasy energy. Similarly to how I feel about track practice, the idea of being slow during this tempo run made me almost sick with nervousness. I so wanted to skip the workout! Luckily, I was able to convince a faster, more talented runner to be my pacer. Without him I’m sure I would have turned off my alarm clock, rolled over and put off the tempo run permantently. It turns out accountability isn’t such a bad thing!
I drank some coffee before the run, laced up a new pair of shoes (I can’t believe I didn’t even break them in before running 11 hard miles) and headed out the door.
After a mile warmup of slow jogging, I pulled off my gloves, did a few dynamic stretches and was off with my personal pacer at my side. My legs felt vaguely stiff and sore during the first mile but fresher and springier than they’ve felt all week.
The first three miles ticked off rather steadily. I was working to keep pace, but the work didn’t seem impossible. My breath felt steady. My legs felt fine. There were some ups and downs but mostly we ticked off the miles. I even had enough energy and breath to talk a bit.
Mile 4 felt excellent. Mile 5 felt terrible, but Phil (my Garmin 405) clocked it at a speedy 6:44.”I can do this!” I thought. “I am doing this.” I was running happy. I felt positive.
Somewhere in Mile 6 my outlook on the run and on life deteriorated rapidly. I had been running strong when in the span of several minutes it seemed like my energy and the power in my legs evaporated. Has that ever happened to you? All of sudden the run went from feeling uncomfortable but productive to uncomfortable and awful. Just awful! If I’d been alone I would have jogged the rest of the run and called it day. Instead, I attempted to concentrate on getting through the next mile.
My pace fell off the rails in Mile 7 and my lungs took a beating as I worked my way up one of the last remaining hills. We passed two runners who were circling in the opposite direction as me and my pacer. They recognized, I assume, the look of sheer determination and pain on my face, and concluded that I was out on a training run. On our second time passing them, the girl yelled “Looking great. Keep up the good work.” It was awesome to receive a little cheerleading from a stranger.
In the last two miles we attacked a significant hill. My legs pumped hard and instead of thinking of the full 1/2 mile of incline I had to conquer, I looked only to the next car parked on the side of the road.
Just get to the blue pickup. The blue pickup. The blue pickup… now just get to the red Prius, the red Prius…now get to the stop sign the stop sign…NO! You do not get to stop at the stop sign…
We crested the hill and had just a mile left.
“Just 16 blocks to go,” said my coach/pacer/cheerleader.
I wanted to quit. Seriously 16 blocks seemed like an eternity! Instead I tried to maintain pace. We crossed an intersection. We passed more numbered streets and soon there were just a few more blocks to go.
“Pick it up. You can do it. We’re running to the white car.”
I doubted that I could do anything more, but I swung my arms furiously and pumped and then soon enough I was running faster and then BLAM (!) I was finished.
Results: 10.36 miles at an avg. 6:58 min/mile
Lessons Learned: Running faster just means you cover more ground before you feel like your body is going to tear off its instential lining
Epilogue: My stomach was queasy and sour feeling for hours following the run. It wasn’t pleasant, but I was all too pleased with my time and effort!