This is going to be one of those meandering, run-report posts. A bitching-post, and a stream-of-consciousness post. Maybe think about what sacrifices you might need to make in your life to reach your goals while you read this. Think about whether you’re o.k. with pushing yourself through some pain or discomfort, or whether you’re ready and willing to take the road less traveled.
It all starts with getting out of bed.
The rain was falling heavy this morning on the tin duct-work of our little house. It always seems too loud to actually help me sleep more deeply, like they all say, but as I pull the covers around my shoulders defiantly and in a huff – that thought is always the last thing I remember before the alarm goes off and I swim back to consciousness; aware only of how deeply I had been sleeping, after all.
I set the alarm for 30 minutes in the future and it goes off immediately after. 15 more minutes and again, it’s beeping at me. Ugh. Time to get up.. I have to get up.. get moving. I don’t want to.
In a daze, I shuffle to the kitchen and pour myself a huge glass of water in an Arizona Softball refillable plastic cup and I gulp it all down. My bio-break comes reluctantly, but still I sit there thinking of nothing in particular. Too tired.
‘This run is going to suck’.
I’m procrastinating, I realize it now. So I get my socks on, get my shoes on, wearing my new Garmin Forerunner 25 and a “Run from the Sun 2016” wrist band. Somehow I’ve managed to forget my RoadID – I’ll realize that once it’s too late. I’m still feeling like this is all a horrible mistake, but I head outside anyway and walk to my favorite telephone pole to begin swinging my legs. I think that I haven’t been giving enough attention to the warm-up exercises in my “Destination YOU!” C25k group. Part of the reason is that we are not in a place where everyone can anchor themselves to a wall or pole – I need to pick a better spot to warm up. It’s o.k. though – we’re all learning, and we’ll figure this out. I also think of Doctor Jo and how awesome it would be to team up somehow; maybe I can designate her as my official warm-up, injury-prevention Youtube specialist and she could promote the virtual nature of my beginner running group to her platform. Ah, but that might be too much – and just like that, I talk myself out of it.
Ok, leg-swings are done. The Garmin begins looking for a satellite – kinda neat. ‘FOUND ONE!!’, it announces cheerily – ‘o.k., let’s get this over with.’
Oh! This is feeling awful. Already, I feel like I can’t do this. I have 9 miles to go and I’ve only gone half-a-block. (heavy sigh!). ‘O.K’, I tell myself, ‘Let’s see how you feel after one mile’. I try and make sure not to go too fast; nice and steady. It’s dark out. The three dogs in the fenced yard of that one corner house are still asleep – they’ll be awake to bark at me on the way home. I should really ask the owner if I can take one of them on my run with me but, a dog? They have to be trained to just run, don’t they? Can’t imagine stopping every time they want to smell something or pee on something – and just like that, I know it will never happen. Doesn’t really bother me much.
It’s pretty quiet out here. Nothing hurts and I’m running around 9:20 pace – probably still too fast, but I feel o.k. I guess. Let’s just keep going.
My new Garmin beeps out a mile and then two miles.. I’m not sure I like it beeping at me. I get defensive. Too slow? Too fast? I can’t tell, it feels too fast, it feels horrible – maybe I don’t want to know how fast I’m going. Maybe I don’t need a wrist-watch beeping at me. A lot of my friends would laugh at this pace – ah! but don’t compare.. ‘seriously!’ I tell myself, ‘quit comparing yourself to others.. you’re doing just fine’. But that little watch is judging me. It’s going to keep beeping at me – you just wait and see!
Throughout the run, my mind drifts and meanders from person to person and topic to topic. I think of Debbie in my group and how much I appreciate the fact that she shows up so reliably and she’s so enthusiastic – despite her injury, she listens to her body and doesn’t try to be a hero, she just does what she can and she’s quick to smile, all the time. She’s great. I think of my coach, Robert Scribner, and I wonder, and feel silly about wondering, if he’s going to be proud of me and the effort I’m putting in. I don’t want to scrimp or slough-off when it comes to his workouts – I’ll do my best. Someone yesterday at the shop was doing Rim-to-Rim (from south to north) and mentioned she didn’t like camping; that gave me an idea – I should invite my nephew Jake to camp in the Grand Canyon with me. It would be fun for me and maybe fun for him too. Would Hannah feel left out? What about Joseph or Alex? Hmm. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll take the whole lot.
I’m on the Rillito River path, running along on the south side trail. Not knowing their schedule, I was really hoping to run into the Tucson Runners Project crew with Bruce, but today wasn’t their day to be out there. The sunrise though was magnificent – wish I had my phone so I could take a picture, but then again, it’s nice to just have a watch taking care of my tracking and no strap on my arm.
I kept watching the distance to find my turn-around point; 4.5 miles. It finally clicked and I turned around, not wanting to run anymore. By this time, I was soaked in sweat, my shoes were sloppy and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to finish without long walk breaks. ‘Gah! Come on, man!’, I told myself, ‘You can do this’. Like a beaten dog, I began trudging forward again in a motion that could only be interpreted as complaining-assent. My shirt clung to my body, which was a good thing – a loose, wet shirt flopping around on my chest leads to bloody nipples. So long as it was plastered to my skin, there would be no friction and my poor little nipples would escape, unharmed.
Forward, forward, forward. The words of Brook Castillo filtered into my head; that action was a product of feeling and that feeling was a product of thinking. My thinking was leading to me feeling a certain way which was informing how I acted and reacted to those feelings in the real world. Specifically, that if I could just stop thinking negatively about this run, then I could inform a feeling that was more supportive and positive. This in turn would lead to being physically able to grind it out. The alternative would have been to wallow in the feelings of defeatism – ‘I can’t do this anymore’, ‘this is too hard’ – and that would have surely led to long walk breaks.
Not that long walk breaks are bad – they aren’t at all, unless you are training for a B.Q. or another goal. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to honestly say that I’m working for a B.Q. if I walked every time it got impossibly hard. Here I was struggling at a 9:30 pace and my pace for a Boston Qualifier was going to have to be 2:10 faster per mile at 7:20. You could say that I have my work cut out for me. At this point, it doesn’t matter how I’m feeling – I have to grind this thing out. I have to push myself if I want to give myself the best chances of meeting this goal.
Then I remembered something my coach told me. He wanted me to run at like a tempo pace – or was it marathon pace – somewhere in the middle of this run for like, a mile. It wasn’t a mile, or even half a mile, but I picked up my pace and ran 7:45 pace from Limberlost to Roger. As I flew and as my legs began feeling shaky/tired, I kept setting the expectation that I would jog, no matter how slow, once I finished this section – no walking. That’s what I did. I jogged it out and kept grinding all the way home; batting aside the many temptations to quit, to walk, to just take a short break.
I can I can I can..
The dogs were there at the corner house, barking and losing their shit as I ran next to them – separated by a fence. I murmured happy puppy things to them but they just kept barking their heads off until they were content that I had been chased away.
I wouldn’t say that when I’m at this stage in a run, I’m a very nice guy. I’m defensive, salty, short on patience and long on excuses. That’s negativity and that’s something that makes running very well, a little bit harder.
I may have to grind out every run, but if I can have a genuine smile on my face while doing it, maybe grinding won’t be such a bad thing.
EDIT: that middle-workout speed hasn’t started yet and it’s going to be more like two-three miles. Also, my BQ pace needs to be ~7:40, not 7:20 – phew! Much better!!