starting to drag my feet

Is it mid-semester exhaustion or am I just really tired? One last week of hard training to go, with today: a rest day. No classes on Friday but it’s really my “admin” day: submit proposals, write letters, continue research. I’d hoped to write (and stay on top of the blog), make some more connections and set up more interviews but my morning got swallowed up first in tracking down Henry’s bag of clothes that he left somewhere at school after changing into soccer clothes. Then, with dismay, when I sat down at my desk I knew I owed it to (at least) two classes of students to review mid-term portfolios and post mid-term grades.

But what does that have to do with training? First, thank you notes must go out to Janice (I need your mailing address) and Debbie for being the first to be interviewed. The footage is beautiful and it will be hard to pull out just a few pieces of SO much insight and strength. Themes that came up: balance, perspective, ego, confidence, community, and self-knowledge. Both women articulated a very admirable understanding of who they are as an athlete, a mom, a friend… I hope the process of being able to just talk about their experiences rewarded them with some personal insight.

If I had the time and energy to write this week, I would have written about how exhausted I was by Wednesday, and that was after choosing to miss the Sunday long run—the very first time I had to make that choice to forego a group run to give my full attention to my family. It was the weekend of the Folk Festival and with Don as an exhibitor, and as the maker of the fiddle to be awarded to the fiddle context winner I needed to be available to him and to Henry. (Thank you to Mary and John from Alexandria for driving down on Saturday). Every year since it’s inception, the Festival weekend belongs solely to the Festival and to friends. I normally work on some aspect of the signage, so there is some professional investment there but more than anything it represents two and half days of exposure to music and culture from around the world and the chance to see friends from all over the city who I sometimes see but just once a year.

But I’ve kept up with the plan. As much as I wanted to just stay home on Wednesday, I knew I’d feel even worse loosing that one day of contact with my students. And, surprisingly, by mid-morning I was feeling energized and wound out, trying to help my students tie up midterm portfolios. I had my gym bag with me “in hopes” that I felt up for the scheduled run at the gym. I went through all the motions: drive to the gym and find a place to park. Pick up a towel from the front desk. Stumble to the locker room and change into running clothes. Climb the steps to the treadmills and just do what I could. I ended up getting the full 5-mile run in with negative splits and a sprint for the last half-mile. I must say this with every post. So much of fatigue seems mental. On my Saturday before the festival I got in a 5 mile run and felt tired and labored. But when I checked my pace, it was among my fasted 5-mile training runs. I’m running faster overall, but it’s just harder.

Our last 20-mile run is this Sunday. I think a lot about time for the race in exactly 3 weeks. I know what I can do. I’m not sure I know how best to do it!


the 2nd 20

The second 20.

The day after my second 20 I felt fantastic. I had classes all day and felt exceptionally clear-headed, focused, energized and grounded. And, I guess, excited and happy to have made it through two 20’s with no injury and no pain. Does that mean I’m not running hard enough? I know our coaches continually remind us to be running s l o w e r that our marathon pace but I don’t know anyone who follows this. With a Boston qualifying time of 4 hours (with the 59 second margin) I will need to maintain a 9:10 pace which now seems slow to me. I’ve been taking almost a minute (maybe half a minute) or so at the water stops but my moving pace (according to my Garmin) for the last 20 was 9:03. I sprinted into the stadium with an 8:15 or so for the last two miles.

We have one month to go and I’m not sure how best to prepare to have a great race. Or, maybe I do. I’m thinking the first thing to do for my next 20 is to spend as little time as possible at the stops. When I was training on my own last Spring I never stopped at my gatorade pick ups: I’d slow down at a friend’s porch where I’d dropped a bottle the night before and jog slowly while I drank. I almost never ever stopped. Maybe all I have to do is relax and stay with the pace team and enjoy the run and if I’m feeling great I can take a few minutes off my time for the final 6 miles. But…but…but what if I want to do 3:55 instead of 3:59:59? Do I pull ahead at 18? or if I want to do 3:52.47, do I pull ahead at 17.5 or just as we cross Broad Street…or…or. It can get obsessive. It probably is enough to just continue with a strong training, good nutrition, plenty of sleep. Can I just stay healthy and enjoy the run? Is that not enough?

The first 20+

written 10. 3. Posted a week later.

This is a post that didn’t get completed and is now a few weeks old. The draft written in a few minutes to reflect on the first 20 mile training two weeks ago. It sat on my desktop unedited as stuff piled on top. The Sunday team has slowly dwindled in numbers to where I recognize most of the runners. From 100+ we’re down to about 50 or 60 runners of widely varying paces. I’m fine with being towards the back of the pack for most runs. I almost always find folks to run with if not for all than most of the run. Although the first 20 mile run had some rough patches. I started out with Bryan and Jonathan, two tall men close to my age. We normally keep together until Bryan makes a break for it. For the first run we ran together at a steady pace through the hills by U of R, until something like 15 miles when I took a little longer at the water stop and Bryan moved quickly on. I continued with Jonathan up to Patterson Ave but picked up my pace and lost him on the downhill. I found out later that he was stopped with a cramp. I was trying to catch Bryan but kept loosing his orange shirt and by the time I cut back into Windsor Farms at about 16 miles I was pretty much on my own and mentally flagging. A single grey shirt (I think male) was still within sight and that helped pull me on. Sometimes I ‘d loose sight of him and I pushed on imagining the SAG to be just past the Unitarian Church by the VITA course, focusing on the colorful bowl of Mike and Ikes. Although after a few months of training that bowl of Mike and Ikes was beginning to loose some shine. I pushed hard to hold a decent pace over the Powhite and up Douglasdale and my spirit sunk when the water stop wasn’t where I was imagining.

At the next crosswalk I caught the grey shirt runner and together we pushed on into Carytown where I could see a small crowd gathered around a table across Cary Street. Even though I had done all me training for my Spring marathon entirely on my own, I’ve come to really appreciate the lift I get around other runners.I took a short break. Knowing I was close to the finish. It was enough of a mental boost to help me dig out some more speed for the few blocks down to the Boulevard, and up one last hill then a sprint into the Stadium half expecting cheers. I always remember John Chapin’s rule. “Finish strong.”

Two things I might do differently: take my gel closer to an hour out rather than almost an hour and a quarter, and leave my Garmin alone. I’m not sure I like how much I use it to gauge where I am and my pace but it helps distract me when I’m starting to flag or complain. When I fuss with it, it goes blank. This little thing can sap energy: I want to know where I am but get frustrated that I don’t. The little things add up.

Took an ice bath when I got home and then a soak in Epsom salts and felt tired but great the rest of the day. Spent time with Henry, visiting friends, drinking tea, walking the dog. I was very happy and enormously relieved to make it through 20 miles with no pain and no IT band issues. This was what grounded me in the Spring: my IT bands were aggravated at 18 and for the following week’s 19 I was in real pain for the last 5 miles. That was the last long run I did. After that I continued my training by water running.

I was tired on Monday but not in pain or aching and I was glad to see the rain and use that as an excuse not to ride my bike to school. The entire week I was slogging through training runs— grateful for reduced mileage, suffering through a 5 mile run…very relieved to compare notes the next week with other Green Team runners to learn they felt pretty depleted too!

I started out the 12 mile the next Sunday with my two running partners and after Bryan sped ahead about half way through, Jonathan and I weren’t too far behind him. I felt like I was on the edge for the last four or five miles but I’m not sure if it was my body or just my mind afraid that I MIGHT be tired because I was pushing the pace and just running hard. I was comfortable but running much faster with Jonathan than I would have if I were still training alone. I am aware of underestimating my ability. I’m conservative. I’m afraid of running out of steam.

I’m trying to eat a lot and drink a lot to prepare for the next 20.