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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Relativity

As I walk/jogged to the gym at our complex today, I was shocked at how incredibly cold it felt. Not how cold it was, mind you, but how cold it felt. It's been hanging around 40 degrees all day, and the sun had no intention of showing its face. Fortunately, Thursday is a treadmill day, and I didn't have to endure it for too long.

It made me think about my last few years up north, where 40 degrees in January is pretty much a heat wave. While I don't quite have the "How Will I Survive This" mentality about the cold here, it strikes me how quickly my body has acclimated to the southern weather. And it's all about relativity. When you've spent three months living in single-digit wind chills, 40 degrees is (relatively) warm. When you're in a place where it almost never gets below freezing, that temperature is riding the bottom end of the spectrum. 

The same holds true with running distances. When I started officially training for my upcoming marathon, my long Sunday run was 7 miles. I ended up going about 7.5, and it took me over an hour. I still remember gasping for air with about a mile left to go and wondering how on earth I was going to do another 19 miles. in 11 weeks. 

Now, past the midpoint of my training schedule, my Thursday run was 7 miles, and next week it will be 8, where it will remain until the week before the race. I already feel like I've come so far in my training, and I'm really just at the beginning of this journey. That feeling has me quite excited.

This morning, I set the treadmill for Boston Pace, and for the first mile, I felt great, so I bumped it a little bit. At mile two, I bumped it a little more. I really let my legs stride out and did my best not to watch the distance accumulate. I listened to Carbonleaf and wouldn't let myself look at the controls until each song ended. I did, however, keep an eye out for certain milestones on the run.

My 5K time was 21:54, well ahead of my originally intended pace. At halfway through, I was at 24:38, only a few seconds off a 7-minute pace. At that point, I'd reached my third speed, and I considered bumping it a little more, but I could feel my legs beginning to push, so I decided that all I had to do was keep at my speed (8.8 on the treadmill), and I'd be happy with my time.

At 5 miles, I had overtaken the 7:00 mark, turning in at 34:58.

At this point, I began to change how I was looking at my remaining workout. One of the maddening things about treadmill running is that the distance counter does not move smoothly. It might be three seconds from .02-.03 and only 1 second from .03-.04, and it's tough to know when exactly you're going to get to any particular distance. 

What I've found to work for me is that at a certain point, I stop thinking about how far I have left to run, and switch to how much time is left. With two miles to go, I wanted to keep my 7-minute pace, so I had to run for only 14 more minutes, or, as I thought of it, 28 30-second spurts. (Who cares if they're back to back?) When you've run 40 minutes already, 9 doesn't seem like that much more. And it just keeps getting better. Counting down like this actually made the last two miles seem quick and painless. 

The great thing was, when I got to the end of the run, I felt like I could have gone farther. Not much, but at least another mile, which I'll get to try out next week.

Today was a great marker for me. What was an intimidating distance in week one was a speed workout this morning. I feel stronger every time I start to run, and I'm happier every time I finish. I'm excited about the marathon, and when I get out of bed, I'm excited to see how I can do on my run that day. 

I've got a long way to go, but I feel like I've come from somewhere. I'm not where I want to be yet, but I'm a lot better than I was.

Relatively.

Today's Run:
Indoors / Treadmill
7 Miles
48 Minutes, 39 Seconds

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