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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

This Time of Morning

It’s not quite dark, but it’s certainly not light.

Not quite cold, but cooler than it will be later.

It’s not quite morning, but I wouldn’t call it night either.

I have always loved this time of morning. In college, I loved it for different reasons. Usually, 5:00am meant the end of an amazing evening spent among friends and libations. It meant that if we stayed up just a little while longer, we’d get to see the sunrise, and fall asleep to the first chirpings of the birds. In most cases, it meant that I didn’t have anywhere else to be the following day, or at least nowhere I actually intended to go, and I could spend the day in whatever mode I chose, which often involved sleeping until afternoon.

Those days are fairly definitively behind me. I think I’ve stayed up until sunrise once in the last five years, and it was an exceptionally rough day that followed. And why did I do that? Work. I had to send reports, so I pulled an all-nighter. Woo. Party.

Now, 5:00am means something else entirely. It means the echoes of my footfalls coming back to me undisturbed. If I come across a stoplight, it’s usually only a moment or two before I can safely cross, with no cars on the road to interrupt. While the rest of the world sleeps, I’m working, taking one step after another toward my Boston Qualifier. I’m doing what the other guy isn’t, and that’s how I’ll get there.

I’ve run 8 of the last nine days, and I’m feeling great. With a superb speed workout last Thursday and a non-stop 20 miler on Saturday, I’ve crested the hill of training. Now, it’s all about the taper. Decreasing the mileage while maintaining the speed. Admittedly, I haven’t been great about keeping the mileage up, so the taper is only pseudo-science at the moment, but I believe in it, because I’ve been able to keep going. I’ve been able to do all the things I would expect myself to be able to do in order to qualify. Less than three weeks from now, I will be in the best shape I’ve even been in to take on a marathon.

So now, I just stay smart. Don’t push if it hurts. Eat regularly. Drink tons of water. And get lots of sleep.

But not so much that I miss this time of morning.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Day 100

One hundred days ago, I made a commitment.

I decided that, in order to help preserve my ability to get up in the morning and put in the miles I will need to qualify for the Boston Marathon, I would not have another drink - not even a sip - until I qualify. I officially quit smoking on the same day. More than 14 weeks later, that side of things is going extremely well.

Now, for the actual running part, well, that's been a little less productive. Not entirely, but less than I would like. I've gotten in a couple of 20 milers, including one in the unrelenting hills of Virginia, Maryland and DC. I've got one more scheduled this coming Saturday, too, so I don't expect endurance to be a problem.

As to speed, I wish I had done more speedwork throughout this season. I've had plenty of fast runs, and I'm finding that my pacing is better than what I've had in recent months, but I would still be happy to get in a few half-mile repeats, and I've got three more sessions scheduled, assuming I get up for them.

Still, I'm feeling good. I'm feeling confident. 25 days to the marathon, and I'm healthy and running.

That's all I need.