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Monday, March 28, 2011

Part One: Remember Me

At 6:00am, the alarm went off, and for once it actually mattered.

I've gotten a little behind on my miles this week, and I could not let a long run go past. So far this training season, I have officially missed two runs, a 9er and a 6er, for a combined 15 miles that I've missed. On the bright side, I tend to run a little farther than my training actually requires day-to-day, so for example, most times I'm scheduled to run 3 miles, I'll actually do 3.3,  because that's the easy turnaround point near my house.

All told, taking into account these extra tenths that I've accumulated, I'm about 10 miles behind on my training. Letting a 12-mile run go past uncompleted would be an almost unrecoverable deficit. This morning, I absolutely needed to run.

So I did. I got up just a little bit late, put on the CamelPak and headed out.

It felt very cold when I left the apartment, and this is what the "Remember Me" in the title of this post refers to. At 52 degrees, it was hardly frigid outside, but I felt slightly uncomfortable as I worked my way down to my starting line. I want to remember this post come July.

If ever I complain about the heat, I'll remember the fact that I was whining about the cold at one point, and that sometimes you just have to suck it up and go, like I did this morning. Within one mile, I wasn't even remotely cold anymore. This was also the point at which my legs loosened up, and I began to fall into a pace that I could maintain. And where I made my decision to relax.

I have a lot of difficulty maintaining a relaxed pace. At some level, there's always some part of my brain that says, "If you can go faster, do." The whole idea of saving something for later has been lost on me for years, which is part of why I always run myself into the ground and end up getting injured.

Not today. I settled into a slightly slower-than-normal pace, and maintained that easily for my first six miles, most of which were a gradual uphill.

For the sake of thinking as little as possible, I did a simple out-and-back up past the UT campus and then back down the hill. I like this course because the first half is more challenging than the second half, which allows me to keep my pace throughout the entire run. That is, of course, unless my shin muscles flare up and almost prevent me from keeping my legs.

There was one moment at about 5.5 when I thought about giving it up, and then I remembered last week's 11 miles, and how much worse everything got when I stopped. I would spend the next 7 miles reminding myself of this fact over and over again as I kept myself running throughout the entire 12(.4). At times, it was agonizing. At times, it was exhilarating. I still had to stop a couple times (that light at Lamar is the devil!), but I spent that time stretching, and was able to start again without too much of an issue.

Single-mindedness has always helped my runs seem shorter than they are, unless of course the only thing that I can think of is the pain in my leg. Today, however, there was a slight change. The only thing I could think of was that I needed to keep running to keep the pain in my leg from getting worse. And you know what? It absolutely worked.

I hurt a lot when I got home, and even had to ice down my right shin. And in all my fighting, I came up with many, many reasons why it would be unreasonable for me to run a further three miles today. And then I came up with this: if I give myself permission to be weak, I will be weak.

And then comes part two.

Monday's (Morning) Run:
52 Degrees / Clear
12.4 Miles
1 Hour, 39 Minutes, 15 Seconds

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