It’s like I have, uh, what’s it called … uh … writer’s block? I don’t know if it is related to my runner’s block, or a symptom, or what … but my motivation to dot dot dot the little ellipses of my life ebbs so low I find it hard to write or run. I think maybe it feeds upon itself. The less I do of either, the less my desire to do anything at all. So I figure maybe if I force myself to do the deed, the desire too will grow.
Gosh, anyway, I suppose I did better than I thought I would in the 2009 3M Half-Marathon. Finished in 1:18:42, exactly 6:00 minute per mile pace. Had to wear my son’s little kid’s Timex watch, which marks laps but no way to view them later. Oh well, the race sort of went like this….
Running a little late pre-race, a bit stressed out, stuck in the leave-a-load lines, didn’t warm up as much as I’d like, had to squirm and worm my way near the front of the start corral. As usual, I see people in front who I know I’ll beat by 20 or 30 minutes and wonder why they insist on lining up at the front. I notice that I’m hungry, not good, and debate about taking my one Gu, don’t, wonder if I’ll regret it.
First mile feel pretty good, not too much swerving and derving, miss the 1 mile marker. Steven H. runs up along and I ask him if he saw the marker, he says I went by in 5:45, maybe 5:50. I say, “oh crap.” He replies, “no, you’re right where you need to be.” He’s always been very encouraging of my running. I remember just starting out with the Gazelles and looking at him as an inspiration, he got so fast so quickly.
Anyway, I run with Steven for mile 2 and hit it at 12:10 or so. Wow, that would make mile two 6:20 which seems awfully slow. Steven starts to pull slightly ahead and I “let” him go. I look for some spectators I might know. Nobody. Crowd seems sparse. I say hey to Barry. Miles 4 and 5 are the big downhill and I try to run it as best I can. I suck at downhill running. I see 5:30 at mile 5. Woo hoo for downhill running!
Mile 6 brings a little cramp, probably due to the 5:30 downhill. I know how to run through these and keep pushing. An elite female pulls up lame a few hundred meters in front of me. Downhill got her too I guess. A woman spectator goes crazy and a dude passes me much too happy. “That’s my mom!” he says and I never see him again. I try to look good through the relay exchange zone. Immediately afterwards some high school kid sprints by. “Relay,” I scoff but he never gets out of my sight. A couple miles later he pulls up with a cramp. I sneak a snicker.
I don’t remember any specific splits through here. I vaguely recall a few 6:0Xs, a 5:58, maybe a 6:10 or two. I remember my Gu and take it out but decide not to use it yet. I carry it for a mile or two, waiting for water, which seems to never come. I got water twice the entire race I think. Burnet Road doesn’t seem as desertedly painful as years previous, though it feels like a headwind and I’m noticing the cold. I can still see Steven not too far ahead and nobody behind me, I’m into a pretty good rhythm, Woo and Watson spectate some encouragement. Finally gurgle down half the Gu but can’t swallow the water. Volunteers stare. Gu face.
Turn on to North Loop and the hill looks loooooonnnnng. Not discouraged, just keep the effort even. So far this has been a tough, solo run and I like it. I decide I like racing. On to Duval and if I have anything left, now is the time to drop it. A couple of guys catch me at mile 10 and I’m determined to stay with them. I can feel the pace pick up slightly. Crappy speed bumps, I wish I was the guy running in between them instead of over them. I stumble. Who is that bald guy? Voice sounded familiar but….
I’m working slightly harder than I should but nothing I can’t handle and besides, I don’t care, less than 3 miles to go and this is a race damn it, not a walk in the park. Mile 11 at 5:58. The two guys I swore to stay with start pulling away. I look at the kind of not-so-skinny one and think, “that guy is beating me?” Legs getting heavy, mentally getting tough, gotta keep pushing. 5:51 for mile 12. Into the deity-forsaken campus, to me the toughest stretch of this race. I pass some female semi-elite. A guy I’ve been trailing since the start begins to come back to me. I fight the mental gymnastics: “ah, even if I coast from here I’ll get a good enough time” … “just ease up a little bit, you’ve done enough already to feel good about this race”. Stupid self.
I’m worrying now about the sub-1:20. My math is all forked up. Someone needs to invent … “6:06 plus tenth of a mile” … something … “how far is a tenth of a mile” … that will help, uh … “1600 divided by 10” … do math … “is that meters or miles” …. when … aw, crap?
I remember the last stretch seeming really long two years ago, but it’s not so bad today. I’m trying to sprint. Ha. Just look good for the crowd. Figured I would see Gilb…. “DAH-VEED!! PICK UP YOUR KNEES! BUTT KICK!! YOU DO IT!!” That’s odd, .1 mile seems longer in a 5K. “2840 … Austin runner … David ….” Damn, that was pretty hard. Last .1 in 32 seconds, 5:20 pace, kind of a sprint. Some would say if I could run that pace at the end, I wasn’t running hard enough the rest of the race. Some would say that. But I feel like I’m going to throw up.
All-in-all a much better race than I anticipated, as you may tell from my previous Knob. Honestly, I expected a disaster. First of all, I was sick last week. “Just allergies” but it’s draining. I’ve also got a tweak of an old injury. But more relevantly, my training since IBM in October has been awful. Scratch, it was great for the first 6 weeks, then I just hit a wall and it’s been a soul-crushing struggle the last 6 weeks. To wit, a 23:11 four-mile tempo on December 18 … a 24:50 on January 8.
In the new year I’ve not been able to run faster than 6:10 or so on any run other than mile repeats, I’ve been straining on pace and tempo runs. My mile repeats were 10 second slower than the fall. But worse than the times is that mentally I’ve checked out. Whereas before I was excited to get out and run, now it feels like an obligation. Whereas before I would run any time of day or night, no excuses, now I can’t get out the door. I’m tired of the dark and the cold, I’m scared of hurting on the repeats, I’m sick of waking up at 5am.
The motivation comes and goes, but when it comes something else seems to come with it, like Cub Scouts or work or sleep or basketball practice or sickness or a really long dump. Prior to Dallas last year I was genuinely excited, prior to Capitol 10K I was determined, prior to IBM I was manic. Now I’m just spent.
Ugh. I think what happened is I over trained. I was running pace runs, tempos, fartleks, 2×2 miles, fast-finish long runs virtually every other day or at least 3 times a week. Coupled with doubles. And too little sleep. And being a narcissistic pussy.
Eleven weeks to Boston. I’m taking it easy this week hoping to regain a little momentum. Then hopefully an 8-week kick-ass stretch, a 10-day taper, and boom goes the dynamite … hit me on my beepah…