Some days you make a choice. Some days the choice makes you.
That sounded a lot cooler in my head.
This morning brought with it the inevitable moment that I knew had been coming. Today, I went back to pseudo-long distances and hills, which meant that I was unquestionably going to be slowing down. Really, it's the only reasonable thing to do when your course gets monumentally tougher.
In order to make this an acceptable development, I made a few choices before I even started the workout. First, I got up as soon as my alarm went off, and I gave myself a little time to get motivated for the run. With the increase in mileage this week, we're up to a whopping ten miles on Wednesday morning, which is no easy feat for those of us with full time jobs. Still, I walked the line between having time to wake and having time to run. By the time I was actually out on the road, I had convinced myself that this wouldn't be as hard as I had originally expected.
Surprisingly, this was not the biggest mental victory of the morning. That belonged to my choice of direction. By going clockwise on my course, I was choosing to run the more difficult path, with multiple sharp uphill climbs and downhills that gave very little relief. This was a conscious decision to really challenge my newfound strength among reasonable temperatures.
Still in the semi-dark of the morning, I headed down the hill, and after determining that the ACL setup wasn't going to obstruct my path (which took a little investigating), I made the turn onto the trail around Town Lake. Here, about two miles into the run, I made two more choices. Realizing that I was moving quickly, I had started to automatically slow down, but caught myself. If I were honestly running by effort and not pace, I could maintain what I was already doing and be okay. The upcoming hills would slow me down of their own accord. Also, even though there were several catchable people in front of me, I would not try and race anyone. If I passed them, it would feel great, but in the greater scheme of my training, it wouldn't matter at all, so I just had to maintain my level of effort.
This proved to be easier than expected, especially on the aforementioned sharp uphills. It didn't matter if I slowed down, because my effort level was constant. Oddly enough, this fact made the hills seem smaller, and increased my speed in scaling them. I tried hard not to pay attention to my time, and this paid off at the end as I figured out my speed, discovering it to be much faster than it felt.
Some say that you can choose to be happy. If the booming market of psychopharmacology has taught us anything, it's that this is not entirely accurate. However, you can make choices that help you along your way. Today, I made all the tough choices I could make (before 8:00 am), and at the end, I was practically glowing. Sure, that fire burned out by 2 in the afternoon, but I still had it for a while, and all because I chose to do the more difficult thing in the smartest way possible.
And if I choose to get up on time tomorrow, I've got a rest day on the horizon.
64 Degrees / Sunrise
1 Hour, 13 Minutes, 33 Seconds