Friday, March 19, 2010
Tuning up for Boston
It's been 11 long weeks since I last laced up and toed a starting line. But finally, tomorrow morning, I'll get to line up again and see what all this training has been about. Around week seven, coincidentally when my world was covered with what seemed like endless amounts of snow, that racing itch began to set in. I could see results in my training runs, particularly the intervals or the ease with which I could tick off miles during my long runs, but it's hard to get a real sense of how everything will come together without racing. I found solace in those "key workouts," the Yasso 800s, the fartleks, and mid-week 12 and 13 milers but the adrenaline and atmosphere just aren't the same.
And everything seemed to be going according to plan, progressing nicely; however, the last two weeks have nearly been anything but. Riding back in monsoon-like rain (hey, at least it wasn't snow), I had the phone pressed to my ear, my dad on the other end, pinning back tears after a 22-miler gone horribly wrong. (I must interject that the tears aren't necessarily and abberation -- I tend to get emotionally exhausted as well as physically on long runs, and tears are the result -- just ask my wife who's seen this happen on many a car ride home after she's biked with me...but I digress). I called my dad to essentially talk me off the ledge I knew I would step down from eventually but needed to hear the words of reassurance from someone other than the voice in my head. Of course he did, but the hard lesson was this: When you ratchet up the mental stress of work AND the physical (and, yes, mental) stress of running at the same time, something's got to give. For me, it was the running.
I've spent the last two-and-a-half weeks working 10 and 12 hour days at work, in early, out late, and *gasp* logging time on the weekends. Still, I fit my workouts in, only missing a run here or there as an injury prevention precaution. In this span of time, my head has gone light, my body has felt exhausted, and my psyche has taken a beating. Yet, my legs have been fresh and cardio in peak form. It's been a frustrating juxtaposition to say the least.
And it all came crashing down last Saturday. I set out on my 22-miler after having gone to a wedding in the morning. My plan was to start out at Roosevelt Island, do eight out and eight back, refill my water, then knock out the remaining six on the Mt. Vernon Trail. The rain could have been a factor, but I've logged 20-milers in the rain before. Instead, I just felt like I'd run out of gas. I stopped to walk a few times, then shut things down completely, hoping to save myself for another day once I got back to the car. There was a lot of swearing, water bottle chucking, and self-loathing. Glad I was alone for this mature display.
I simply felt...tired. During a lunch-time seven miler the week before, I waited at a stoplight for the traffic to go by and thought to myself that I could close my eyes and fall asleep right there and it would be the greatest feeling in the world. My boss told me this week "how tired I look." Super.
Thankfully, this past week has been a recovery week mileage-wise, so I've taken great care to run on the low end of the mileage spectrum. I also took today off of work to ensure I got a good night's sleep last night and would be as fresh as possible for tomorrow's half marathon. When I woke up at 10:00 this morning, 11 hours after turning out the light, I knew I'd made the right decision. Already I feel better today.
And that race that I'm finally getting to run tomorrow, I'm excited about it again. With dog in tow, we drove to packet pick up this morning, ate lunch outside, and just enjoyed life...and not being tucked away in a cubicle.
While I'm not putting too much emphasis on tomorrow, a PR would be nice as well as a boost in confidence. Looking forward to seeing that finish line in sight and the sudden surge of adrenaline that drops in to let you know it's time to unleash the finishing kick. Hoping the detour is finally at an end and the bus is on the right course again.