You see, what makes cold weather running great is that you don't need fingers to run.
Again, in my infinite (lack of) wisdom, I went for a run this morning without checking the weather before I left the house. I was, once again, a little late getting up, though still early enough to get done and showered before the work day started, so I wanted to get out the door as quickly as possible. I threw on a t-shirt and shorts and as soon as I was out the door, I knew I'd been bested by mother nature once again.
As I've mentioned before, I'd rather be underdressed than overdressed, so I figured I'd warm up pretty quickly and just rubbed my arms a lot before I got started.
Today was scheduled to be a run "at pace" for the marathon, and this is something that's been a bit of an issue for me. On the one hand, I don't want to set a pace for myself that is unrealistic and could get me injured again. On the other, the qualifications for Boston are about to get tougher, and Seattle will be my last chance to qualify before that change happens, unless I find something in August or September. I'm still not sure how my marathon turn-around is going to be, and I was planning on testing that between October and November, but I'm not sure that I'm ready for it yet.
At this point, I'm leaning heavily toward going for the Boston qualification in June. Even then, there's no guarantee that I'll get to run it even if I do qualify, but for the extra ten seconds per mile I'll have to drop after September's rule change, I think it's worth it to take a shot.
Now, if there's one thing I learned from the Livestrong Marathon, it's that I must have a very specific race plan for myself, including mile times. The idea that I had for this one was, "I'll run with the pace group, and drop back if I lose steam." This is not a race plan. This is the idea that I'm going to run hard for half a race and die for the second half. No, if I'm going to go for it, I've got to plan ahead.
And so to the pace run. I've decided that, at least early on, my desired pace is going to be a little faster than I'll need on race day. I'll get the feeling of that pace in my body which will hopefully make it easier to maintain.
So, today, I started out with a little extra strength in my step, hoping to maintain my newly formed focus on speed. My first mile, though it is downhill, was WAY too fast, so I slowed some on the second one, but still found myself well ahead of pace. This is when I need an Iron Man or a Garmin or just something that tells me how fast I'm actually going while I'm running. Checking in once a mile doesn't actually keep me at the pace I need.
After my third mile marker, I was still quite a bit ahead of my pace, so for mile four, I really settled in and just focused on being strong, not on being fast. I picked my head up, moved my hips forward and pushed everything together at once. I've always found that, regardless of the distance, it's the space between 60% and 80% completed that is always the most difficult. You're past halfway, but it still seems like the finish is a long way off, and it's easy to let yourself drop out of good form and slow down, so this is where - this season - I'll be focusing on maintaining my strength.
And so I did. I was still slightly under pace for mile four, at which point I decided to forget all about what pace I wanted for the last mile. Since it's mostly uphill, I decided to really attack it and see what I could do. I was distracted for a bit by the homeless-looking young man who walked past me checking directions on an iphone, but other than that, my focus was on pumping my arms and flexing my fingers which, I realized at that point, I could no longer feel. Turns out it was slightly colder than I'd thought.
All told, I was well under my desired pace today, which isn't all good. The entire point of running at marathon pace is that your body gets used to it, because what you can run for five miles is necessarily going to be faster than what you can run for twenty-six. That being said, it felt good to have my fastest run of the season (so far) be outdoors over five miles in less-than-ideal weather. Right now, most of the runs are this distance or less, so it doesn't hurt too much to be a little faster than intended. I'm sure it will be far more important as the season wears on, but my focus on strength this time around should do a lot to help me out come June.
And it's almost impossible to underdress in June, right?
43 Degrees / Clear
33 Minutes, 5 Seconds