“It does not matter how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get up.”
This particular post is meant to be read from bottom to top if you want to follow it chronologically. If you’ve found this post and want to go back to the beginning of my running journey, start here.
Five days after the race, my first Half Marathon, I need to run…to maintain the foundation I’ve built. Two miles on the treadmill in 23:45, a pretty strong pace for me. I followed it with 5 minutes of jogging in the parking lot at work, just to remind my body that I can run in the cold. I feel good. I think I need to work in the coming weeks to increase my speed over the shorter distances, 2 miles and less…and then take that new faster pace and start adding distance to it. Yesterday and today, I’ve been researching and praying about my running future. There are four long distance races I want to do next year, culminating into my first full marathon at the 2nd annual Rock & Roll in October. I’m learning that the reward is not at the finish line, it’s in the journey. It’s gonna be a great journey!
Week 17 Day 4. Another easy run before the race, 2 miles in the early pre-dawn hours of morning. Still not a morning person, but I really want to run once or twice in the cold before race day. It’s in the upper 30’s this morning, and this was a difficult two miles. For starters, I dressed for the cold…shorts covered with long, swish pants and a sweatshirt over a t-shirt. I did the 2 miles in 37:30…not a great pace. I was winded nearly the whole time. There was a brisk wind, and my hands were frozen by the end. I honestly never imagined I could be overheated and freezing cold at the same time, but it is possible. I was wheezing when I finished, cold in the extremities and sweating from the core. I am not adequately equipped with what I need to run in the cold, and it will be difficult on race day. My racing bib has to be visible the whole race, so it’s not like layering my attire will be easy. When I ran in the cold rain two days ago, I wore a light rain jacket and shed it halfway through when I warned up. I was able to wrap it around my waist for the rest of the run. That won’t be easily accomplished with a racing bib. This is gonna be interesting, to say the least.
Week 17 Day 2. It’s “taper week”, in that I’m backing off the intensity and duration of the week’s running and doing easier, short runs to maintain what I’ve built up while giving my body a little time to recover and prepare for the 13.1 miles I’m going to force it to do in five days. It’s cold today…in the low 40’s and rainy. I don’t like running in the cold…would rather run in the heat and humidity. At least that was the old me. After 3miles, I’m realizing I’m not who I was when I first started this journey. Today’s run was good…41:06 for 3 miles. Not my best pace, but not my intention. What surprised me was how well I did in the cold. I was afraid I wouldn’t perform well, because in the past when I tried jogging in the cold, I’d struggle with the cold air down deep in my lungs. It was painful and hurt to breath as that cold air hit the lower parts of my lungs. Not today. Only thing I can figure is seven months of running has improved the ability of my lungs to perform under stress, including running in cold weather.
Week 16 Day 5. Long run day…10 miles. Nine days until the half marathon, so it’s my last long run beforehand. I intended to run first thing this morning, but it didn’t happen. It’s an afternoon run in what feels like a 20 mph wind. A headwind for about half of the course. At about the halfway point, I stopped at the house long enough to refill my water bottle and guzzle down a bottle of Cytomax, a power drink they’re using on the course next weekend. I’ve never had it before, so I want to test it out beforehand, make sure it agrees with my system. Also tried GU energy gel too, since it’s available at the race too. Did fine with both, and the run was good. Ten miles in 02:25:20, which included the two minute refueling stop halfway through. Burned 2805 cal with an average heart rate of 164 bpm and a peak heart rate of 187.
The first 8 miles were not extremely difficult, keeping a steady pace and pushing though the discomfort. It never hurt until about the last 3 miles, and it was my left hamstring more than anything. I started bonking in the last mile and really struggled in the last .5 mile. Just about the point I thought I was gonna bonk, my gps hit 10 miles about a quarter mile before I thought it would…and poof! I was done. I am as physically prepared as I can be at this point…next week is a “taper” week, easier runs and more rest to allow my body to recover as I come into race day for peak performance.
Week 17 Day 1. A 5 mile day, I hit the treadmill for what was a difficult run. It should be, though, as I push myself harder, longer and faster. That’s the point…to push the limits of what I imagine possible. I ran the first two miles at about a 6.0 or 5.5 pace, and then I did one minute intervals at paces up to 7.5…walking or jogging for the cool down minute, depending on my heart rate. My shins were the weakest link today…cardiovascular-wise, I pushed it hard enough to be short of breath with a heart rate averaging 160, maxing out at 177. I did the 5 miles in 01:04:44, burning over 1100 calories. That’s including a 2:30 break at the half mile mark due to equipment failure. That’s a 13:00/mile pace…not too shabby, and a personal best…to hold that pace over that distance.
Week 16 Day 6. Long run day. With two weeks to go to the race, I’m about three weeks behind schedule in my training…not where I want to be, but I’m not losing ground, so I’m content. Today, I set out for 9 miles. The route was such that I’d be running back by the house at just over the halfway point, so I had a replacement water and a fuel gel pack waiting for me. The first two miles were pretty smooth, and through miles 3 and 4, the knee pain started creeping in. In mile 4, I was focused almost solely on putting random thoughts into order in my head for a short inspirational quote of my own, and I found that it was my easiest mile. Seems I perform a little better (at least mentally) when channeling my thoughts and not focusing on my body and the race. Gonna have to remember that in the future, since not all race events allow the use of an iPod.
What’s really ironic is that my little inspirational thought had to do with finding the strength to persevere through trial. “Resolve breeds perseverance. Perseverance, strength. True strength comes when the body is pushed beyond the limits of what the mind imagines possible. This is precisely why true strength comes not from within, but from above.” God is funny, because shortly after He put that in my head, my iPod shot craps…stopped working. Ugh. I had to run just over a mile with just me and my pain…and God. While it was indeed a slower pace, and I was focused almost solely on my pain, it was nice to be alone with God…and it was in that test, and the last 4 miles, that I confirmed the truth of it. Those last 4 miles were by far the hardest of my running career to date, and in my mind, I didn’t think it possible so soon in my running life. I did the entire 9 miles in 02:12:16, burning over 2000 calories. It’s 7:30 at night as I write this…about 12 hours afterward. I am so drained of energy, I can barely keep my eyes open…and every joint from my mid back down to my toes aches like never before. My knees are on fire, even after using an icepack most of the day. Moving is a well thought out process, so as to not move more than necessary. Haha. I need to start taking ibuprofen before and after these long runs.
Week 16 Day 5. Today is a 60 minute cross-training day. Walked with mama and the boys, and did 3.1 miles up to the store and back. Did our shopping for dinner supplies while we were there. It was a nice walk in just over an hour, not including 30 minutes of shopping time. Mostly, I enjoyed the company. We need to do that more often.
Week 16 Day 2. As you can tell, yesterday was a bad day. Today was a little better. I’ve learned over the last several months that distance running is about 90% mental strength and tenacity. If you lose the mental battle, the odds are against you even more than before. Within the last few weeks, I’ve lost my mental edge…the sharpness that is required to keep pushing through the pain. Yesterday was more of a mental defeat than a physical one. As much as I hate running, I enjoy getting fit and healthy. I enjoy the challenge of doing what looks impossible…what others have told me I cannot do. I’m currently losing ground in the mental battle, but I’m making a stand. I hope to hold steady and at least not continue losing ground. If I can do that, then I can eventually get a good foothold…firm enough from which to mount an offensive and push forward again. For now, I’m going defensive and protecting in place…I will hunker down and do what needs to be done to not lose ground. Fortunately, God has blessed me with a wonderful network of friends and family from which to draw support and encouragement. It’s in times like this that I need them the most, and I’m thankful God has placed them in my life. It’s my prayer, as with all of these notes, that you draw from my experiences to succeed in your own. Learn from my weakness and setbacks and do better.
Anyway, I ran 3 miles today. Did it in 35 minutes flat, which is a 11:40 pace average. I did the first mile in just under 11;00, the first 3/4 mile at a 6.0 pace. This was my fastest overall pace for 3 miles to date, and although I would have liked to run further, I’m happy to hold ground not lose what progress I’ve made. I added the quote at the top today…after posting yesterday’s update. Tomorrow, I will face when it comes. With the help of friends and family, I will get back up from this setback and tackle this mental loss one day at a time.
Week 16 Day 1. Three weeks till the marathon. I’m not ready. I ran 2.3 miles tonight, and I’m mentally done. I hate running. Hate it. I don’t want to run anymore. Ever. My knee hurts with every step it pounds into the ground. It’s not the same pain as before. It’s moved onto the lower part of my kneecap, and it sucks. It’s hurting so much that I’ve noticed I’m changing my stance to handicap it. That stinks, because it’s asking for trouble in the form of a serious injury. Less than three weeks until the race, and I can’t go more than 3 miles. I honestly don’t know what I was thinking. I set the bar too high. Fat men can’t run.
Total miles logged in October = 52.5. And that’s October 2011. To continue this journey with me, check out my January 2012 Run Journal.