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Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Best Laid Plans

I really thought it said 11.

As I build mileage on my long run, I'm doing so with a cautious eye. My right leg has been a little temperamental the last couple weeks, so I'm being very careful with it. I took a good amount of time off, but that didn't seem to be making it any better, so I've begun working it while focusing intently on my form and pace to keep from over-working it.

The other side of that is not to reach too far above what I've already done. As with my plan to run higher mileage as the year goes on, the point is to keep healthy while progressing. Last month, my long run was around 10 miles, so the next step would be 11.

Still, I worried that this might be a little too ambitious, especially with a wonky leg. So, as I've done in the past, I designed my course to allow for a bailout. My house backs up to a road with a bus route that heads all the way through town. For the latter part of my run, I followed this road, knowing that if something went wrong, I had other options.

The additional benefit is that I'm very familiar with this road, so it helps with my visualization. I can tell myself that I've got five miles left, so I pretend that it's mile 21 of the upcoming marathon. No need to increase speed, no need to push. All that matters is crossing the finish line. Everything else is ego. Well, in honesty, crossing the finish line is also ego, but that's beside the current point.

So, as I turned up the 5-mile homestretch, I checked in on my time. Some quick math told me that I was significantly slower than I'd like to be ideally, but well within range of reasonability. But one number caught my eye. According to my watch, I'd already done about 7 miles, which didn't make sense if I had 5 miles to go. No worries, I thought, I'm sure I just mixed up my landmarks. I was feeling good, keeping everything under control, and had no reason to panic.

With two miles to go, I started to wear down a bit. There are long, slow hills on these roads, and they'll take the wind from you after almost an hour and a half. It made sense, though. When I did my ten mile run, a couple weeks back, this was the point that I started to lose my composure. So I dug deep, told myself just to get to the next mile.

And I did, getting stopped at a light with just under a mile to go. I took my first long look at my watch since the not-five mile mark, and checked the mileage. 11 down. Whoops.

I really have no idea how it happened. I planned the route ahead of time, planning on an 11-mile run. I clearly misread something, because I ended up running 12.3. On the bright side, I ran 12.3 miles today. Once I realized my mistake, I considered for a moment stopping the run at 11 as planned and walking the last mile home, but it would take me 10 minutes longer to walk it, and I was ready to be home, so I kept on shuffling, besting my best run since Boston by over 2 miles.

The rest of today will be ensuring that I take care of myself. Eat well to recover energy, stretch, hopefully do Day 2 of yoga before bed. Lots of reading. A pretty solid Sunday, to be honest, fueled with the knowledge that I did more today than I thought that I could.

Here's to happy accidents.

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