I've always liked numbers.
Back in high school, math was my favorite subject. What I loved about it was that there was always an answer - it wasn't about what you thought or felt, but that there were specific steps that got to one answer, right or wrong. I loved the subject until I went to college and tried to make it my major. Then, they stopped using numbers, and the entire class became about theories and hypothetical impossibilities that somehow become math despite the fact that there are no recognizable values involved. One of my classmates even used a couple formulas to show me that two plus two did not, in fact, equal four. I paused for a moment, punched him in the arm and walked away.
Still, I've got the lingering love of numbers in my brain, and it comes in handy with my training. It led me to develop a rather extensive Excel sheet that keeps track of everything I could think of related to my training, including total miles run per week/month/year, pace per run/week/training season, and all the information that is recorded from each marathon, among other things. It's a one-stop shop for all information about any run that I've done since I had my running rebirth last December.
Even more usefully, my love of math helps me figure out paces and splits while out on the road. Currently, it's pretty easy to do, since I'm going for a whole minute pace. When you're trying for a pace like 8:27 or 7:13, the math gets a little trickier, but when you're going for 8:00 or 7:00, life is good. As a result, multiples of 7 are taking on a somewhat ridiculous role in my life. For example, any time I think of the number 21 - regardless of what context I hear it in - it makes me think of three miles. This morning, as I finished my run, I was trying to think of how many weeks I had left until Marine Corps, specifically whether it was 14 or 15 (it's 15, by the way). When I was wondering if it was 14, my thought was, "That's not much at all. That's only two... nothing. Fourteen weeks is not two of anything."
It is, however, about 3 1/2 months, which seems like a really long time. I know that I'm going to need the training hours ahead, so I'm glad I've got them. I just worry about getting restless. Happily, this season is going very well. For the first time in my journey, I've gone the first three weeks of a season without missing a mile. Sure, I've had a little more walking, and my pace is not quite as fast as it has been in the past, but that comes from my desire to be more careful this time around.
I did realize this morning that my goal time is going to be hard to get. Say what I will about training in the heat, at some point it's just hard to run really fast for an extended period of time. And yet I managed to do it for six miles this morning.
Today was scheduled to be a pace run, and I was determined to actually run on pace for once. Did I? Well, no, but I was much closer than I normally am, and two of my miles were actually right on. I was a bit fast on mile one, and a bit faster on mile two, at which point I really focused on running easy. The third mile brought me to the trail, where I always run a little faster due to the presence of other people. As such, I made a focused effort to slow myself down, and it actually worked. My third mile was right on at 7 minutes. The fourth mile was probably a little fast, but I was somewhere else in my mind when I actually crossed the mile marker, so I checked it a little late and guess that I was about where I wanted to be. At mile five, I checked my split right on time and found that I'd gained about 20 seconds over the last two miles, which really isn't too bad. I was starting to get pretty tired, but I gathered up what determination I had left, pushed my legs forward and let my mind wander. I honestly was surprised to find myself with half a mile left. The last hill hurt a bit, but I pushed my way through it and finished my final mile in exactly 7 minutes.
The good news is, I'm beginning to figure out what my goal pace feels like. The bad news is, it hurts a bit. Still, it's very early in the season, and I'm sure I'm still dealing with the aftereffects of my race three weeks ago. Once my schedule gets a little more regular (which it may never do), I'm hoping that I'll get into a better rhythm all around.
Tomorrow, I've got a step-back week long run of only 8 miles. I'm hoping to finish strong, but more importantly, I'm hoping to finish without walking. It's officially time to start rebuilding endurance.
If I say it, it has to happen, right?
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