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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Fall and Spring

Today’s run was always going to be more difficult than yesterday’s.

It’s simply addition. Before today’s run, there was yesterday’s run. Before yesterday’s run, there was nothing. Sixteen miles over two days has a cumulative effect. Add to that a late shift last night and my second straight early morning rise, and I knew I’d be fighting a little bit. Yet still, the karmic whatevers in this world decided to make it a little bit harder.

A little tip for you: when trying to move around your house quietly in the morning so as not to wake your wife, houseguest and dogs, it is a good idea to move around in your socks until you absolutely have to put on shoes. It is a bad idea to do this down slippery stairs in complete darkness. Not only does it hurt when you fall, it also makes a whole lot of noise, thus negating the purpose for the socks in the first place. Whoops.

It didn’t hurt (much), so after apologizing to my now-awake bride and assuring her I was fine, I headed downstairs to put on my shoes. I checked the weather, seeing that the temperature was 51 degrees, a mere degree over my newly-established glove threshold. Touché, weather. What I failed to check was the wind, which I discovered, a bit too late, was somewhat stronger than yesterday. I also did not check the trend of the temperature, which had evidently not hit bottom yet. It was 48 when I finished. I may have to revise my thresholds. And yes, I know these are not cold temperatures, but they’re cold for Texas. Spring isn’t here yet. Or at least not before 6:00 in the morning.

With all this working against, me, it would have been easy – maybe even smarter – to pack it in. I thought about cutting mileage. I considered a change in outfit. I came within a few teeth-chattering moments of just heading back inside and diving into the pancakes I made yesterday.

And then I took another step. And another. I remembered the words from my daily inspirational running quote from Runner’s World: “Consistency requires discipline. Force yourself out the door.” – Bob and Shelly-Lynn Glover. For today, at least, I was able to remember the feeling of pride I get from finishing a run. I knew my body would warm up, and it did. I knew my legs would hold out, and they did. Another step. And another.

Even given all the downs, my time was only a minute off yesterday’s. I felt like I was working harder, but tried to keep myself to a sensible pace. Not perfect, but pretty darn good. Today, I learned about my resilience, and my ability to be stronger than my doubts.

And to wear shoes when walking down the stairs.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dark, Cold and Perfect

Under 50 degrees, wear gloves.

It’s the first of many lessons I have to re-learn in the coming weeks. About five miles into my run this morning, I noticed the pain on the back of the hands. Nothing severe, and certainly nothing that would cause any long-term damage, but enough to be annoying, and enough to remind me that spring isn’t here yet. It’s close, but not yet.

I won’t spend a lot of time talking about rededicating myself to the sport of running. I’ve written that so many times, I could probably copy and paste the whole thing. Suffice to say that I’m trying again, and with my 30th birthday a mere 249 days away, now’s the time to act. If there’s any chance of my qualifying for Boston before that day, the groundwork has to be laid right away. Now, my drive to qualify may be more financially prohibitive than physically so, but that’s no reason to give up. And even if I don’t do it by then, I’ve still got races to run.

For today, it wasn’t about qualifying. It wasn’t about a mileage total or a build-up. I’m not signed up for any races right now, and I haven’t published any new goals. Today, I simply wanted to go for a run.

It was dark and quiet when I left the house. Not cold enough for sleeves, but cold enough to create the rule I mentioned above. (I think 40 degrees will be my sleeve threshold.) I had my newest shoes on, which I don’t think I’ve taken over 5 miles before. I took a deep breath, started the watch, and headed off at an easy pace. I felt good, but I didn’t want to risk burnout. I haven’t run that much recently, and while I can usually tick off 8 miles without too much agony, I was not about to take unnecessary chances. It was way too early to call for a ride home if I was wrong.

At 2.5, I let myself engage a little. When I hit the downhill at 4, I allowed gravity to help, and with 2.5 to go, I pushed, ever so slightly. Nothing dramatic. Nothing amazing. Nowhere near my best time for the course, but solid.

And perfect.

My record-keeping has been shoddy at best the last few months, but that’s because I haven’t had much mileage to be proud of. I did a quick update of my spreadsheet and just sat staring at today’s number. It felt great. Every step felt right.

And tomorrow, I get to do it again.