OK, this week of training sucked. I didn’t think it would in the beginning, but by the end it did.
Thinking I may be over-training, and after my second half-marathon in a two-week period, I took Sunday and Monday off to rest my legs last week before a Tuesday of speed training, followed by another two days off before my long run.
Before this week, the typical training schedule looked like this:
On Tuesday, the group I run with was scheduled to do Yassos, i.e. 30 seconds faster than race pace with brief recovery periods.
Instead we averaged a minute-and-thirty-seconds faster than race pace for half a mile, a tenth of a mile recovery, another four tenths of a mile up, and then a minute of water and rest for a total of five repeats that roughly equaled a mile for each loop. The course was flat, and it looked something like this:
And yes, that is Paul Brown Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Bengals, a place that does not necessarily inspire greatness. The thing is though, I did feel great by the end of the workout, sprinting in my strongest time the last four tenths of a mile and running the two miles back to the running store (where we started from for a warm up) comfortably with the group.
I even remarked to our coach how I didn’t think I’d be able to keep up a few weeks ago when I followed my friend to this faster paced group. Of course sadly, and a sign of my earlier dismay, this group was the pace group I lead my first year. But still, I felt I finally was catching that old fire and fitness that might allow me to set a PR this marathon season.
Then Friday happened, a mixed bag of dismay that I’m trying to let go of.
The set run was 20 miles, one of two scheduled before the Flying Pig Marathon that takes place on May 5. And though my marathon, Cleveland, is scheduled weeks later on May 19, I’m adhering to the Flying Pig running group, making the minor adjustment of using the Pig itself as a third 20+ miler. I’ve promised myself that I will run the Pig slowly and even walk if necessary at the end, so as not to kill myself two weeks later when I’m supposed to be gunning for a PR with a friend.
Twenty miles, at a pace 15 to 20 seconds slower than goal pace, and determining whether to go on or stop seems reasonable, especially since I would be cruising for a four-week taper if I didn’t add at least one more long run into the training schedule mix. (Does this sound sane? Do I?)
Again, Friday happened.
I cruised along for 11 miles and felt absurdly good. I was running at goal race pace and enjoying the weather, the warmest its been all season with temps in the high 50s starting out. I said hello to other runners along the route, but was ominously disturbed by a dead kitten I saw curled up in shrubs near the sidewalk.
That damn dead cat.
Coming back the way I went out, I wanted to curl up next to it and die of guilt/shame/disappointment in myself. Somewhere around mile 14 I had stopped for Gu and a splash of water. My heart rate monitor was averaging about 160 and I was running a 9:01 pace. My legs were a little sore, the most boring part of the route was ahead, and I was alone. No big deal, I told myself, man up. Problem was, I took too long starting back up to man up and my calf muscles began to tighten.
Facing me, was a part of the Pig route that shoots down some of the most depressing, rundown rows of cheap housing. That was a precursor to a loop through a hill climb to get back to that cat, that damn dead cat. Around mile 15 my brain started getting a case of the screw its.
You know, screw the pain and the running and fighting through tired muscles that tightened even more as I slowed down going uphill. I managed 18.75 miles at a 9 minute 17 second pace before screw it won and I walked in the last 1.75 mile, all uphill and past the damn cat.
My guilt wasn’t helped by seeing a woman with crutches on the sidewalk. As I got closer I realized she wore a white ribbon tied around her upper right leg to keep the pant leg folded in place because she was missing her calf and foot. Hence, the crutches.
I muttered and cursed myself. My legs hurt so bad! I would think, followed by, Gee, at least you have both your legs, dick.
I actually ran another quarter-mile just to get past that woman, though my brain still haunted me.
To top it off, I almost got into a nasty argument with family over a forgotten appointment, but decided I had enough bad mojo for one day.
And I can’t even claim sore legs, or this or that to justify my poor run. Two buddies, one slightly older and one younger who ran the same schedule as me in the same weather ran the same route on Saturday with no problems. Hell, one ran extra credit (two miles). The thing they did have was probably each other, or other runners since they ran with a group. Me, yeah, dead cat.
I’m actually kind of at a loss for this week’s review. I’m still looking for that break through moment that will get my mind back into the game. This week’s long run wasn’t that big winner.