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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Blown Away

When I was a freshman in high school, there was a senior on the cross country team who seemingly trained nonstop. My mother was out driving early one morning and saw him running hills. That afternoon, she came across him running through the neighborhood. She rolled down her window and said, "Phil, do you just run morning, noon and night?"

"Well," he said, "not noon."

I remember football players talking about two-a-days as the most grueling, painful days of their year. Knowing that I had two runs today, this was all I could think about. Of course, two runs by myself do not even compare to a football practice, but it's still not something I do every day, and anything new runs the risk of being bad.

As the workday came to a close. I looked over at my wife at her lovely new desk and asked her if she'd mind running 6 miles for me. She didn't seem interested. So, once again, I suited up.

Heading down the hill, I noticed a big change in the weather, and that change was wind. It was not as bad as some of those really cold days, but it was much stronger. It was one of those days when a gust actually makes you change direction a little bit, and no matter which direction you're facing, the wind seems like it's blowing in your face.

The most important thing to me was that I not burn myself out too early. I wasn't sure how my legs were going to react to this change in routine, and I cannot risk injury this close to race day. Fortunately, fighting against the wind took all of my attention away from any other issues that I might have had. In fact, at several points during the workout, I had to take my hat off for fear that it would blow into the lake. My knee pain flared up a few times, mostly going from downhill to uphill or vice versa. Once I got into the rhythm of the new incline/decline, it faded pretty quickly.

I settled into my pace and really didn't have any trouble keeping it up, which was surprising even to me. I felt good. At least, good enough to keep moving. I got stopped at one intersection that always gets me, and I took a quick look at my watch, when I found that I was way ahead of the pace that I thought I was running. Quite the pleasant surprise.

What I learned today was that I am capable of just about anything, as long as I don't over-think it. I outran a treadmill by counting my steps. I ran better-than-race pace for six miles because I was worried about losing my hat.

And I also thought about how I could use this on race day. I need to start thinking about my goals for pacing, and I'm not sure where I'm going to place myself just yet. To qualify for Boston, I'd need a 7:15 pace, but I think that's a little bit of an overshot for this race. Still, if I can make myself run so far for so long based on thinking about something else, maybe...

I think it'll come down to how I'm feeling that morning. If it's anything like I felt today, I just may go for it.

The time for planning is almost over.

Today's Run (2):
52 Degrees / Windy
6.15 Miles
45 Minutes, 41 Seconds

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