When I think back to those first few miles I ran back in 2006 it is really hard to believe where it has led. 

I mean, I’ve been there for all of them.  The slow miles, the easy miles, the somewhat fast miles and the hard miles.  I have been healthy for a lot of them.  Injured for some of them, I even had to walk home a few times when my body wasn’t quite ready for me to continue.

There have been thousands of them now; at some point in 2011 I will run number 10,000.  Pretty amazing for a guy who started walking 30 minutes over his lunch hour about 5 years ago.

After all of those miles you would think that there are not too many more lessons to be learned.  That at some point you have seen it all, done it all and run it all.  But that is what is so amazing about this sport. 

I don’t think that I will ever be able to run enough miles to where I’ve run out of lessons.  Just this weekend, in the middle of what to this point has been my best marathon training cycle ever, I learned a new one.

Just because you wear tights, it doesn’t make you Superman.

Sunday morning’s 12-mile long run taught me that one.

Tucked innocently on the training calendar was Sunday’s run.  Just a little 12-miler at the end of a “step-back” week.  A week where my total mileage was reduced from 55 and 53 over the previous two weeks down to 42.8.

The shortest Sunday run in many weeks as I had been running 16 or more every Sunday for close to two months.  Heck, I was 5 miles short of a full Marathon just last Sunday.

Even though I had raced on Saturday morning at the Resolution Run 5K on New Year’s Day, and decided to run another 3 miles home from the race at tempo pace (6:38 min./mile) – I thought I would be able to nail my workout no problem.

Just 12 miles at Marathon Goal Pace – something around 7:08 min./mile.  Piece of cake, right?

Wrong.

29 degrees was the temperature outside at 5:30 a.m.  I slid into my Under Armour Cold Gear tights, put on my running mittens and hat and after a quick stretch on the family room floor it was time to get this party started.

As I made my first strides down the block over mile number one I could tell that I was going to be in for tough time over these next 12 miles.  My quads, calves and even my side abdominals were sore from the race on Saturday.

Only 3.1 miles of racing, nothing like the Decker Half-Marathon a few weeks before or the Run for the Water 10-miler in November, but I was not racing at 5:28 pace at either of those longer events.

Pushing pace below 6:00 min./mile requires a lengthening of your running stride and recruiting of smaller muscle groups that are not normally utilized when you are cruising along at Half-Marathon or Marathon Pace.

I know this of course, but somehow I thought that with all my great training as of late, I would be able to rise above it.  I mean, I was in my tights after all, I’m Superman.

As the miles ticked along I was holding steady over the hill route.  A little ahead of my goal pace of 7:08 for the run, but it was not easy.  Not easy at all.  For a brief moment as I ran miles 5 and 6 I started to feel “pretty good”.

The stiffness from the previous day’s race was just about gone, my stride was feeling smoother and I was starting to get back to normal.  Superman.

But it was short lived as when I went to climb at mile 9 up to the top of the course and over the Dam at Brushy Creek Park yet another byproduct of racing started to rear its head.  Fatigue.

I could feel my leg muscles starting to fight me, what are normally my “cruising miles” 8-12 when I am feeling my best over a long run and especially a marathon were being torturous.  As always, when things start getting a little “dicey” out there I went to the place I know I can always find motivation.

Dom.

I shook out my arms and mumbled to stop feeling sorry for myself.   Pain is temporary, quitting is forever, and I started to drop the hammer over the top of the dam and back to the house.  I ran the last two miles without looking at my watch, determined to run strong and push through the driveway.

1:25:00 on the nose, 7:05 pace.

Splits for the run were:

7:02, 7:13, 7:06, 7:03, 6:53, 6:57, 7:10, 7:08, 7:14, 7:15, 7:05, 6:50.

Taken out of context, just a nice little run, certainly nothing to write home about.  But crossing a workout off of my training schedule on the magic refrigerator never felt so good. 

Maybe there was something going on with those tights.

Monday arrived with 16 miles on the tri-bike trainer in the garage.  My legs still a little weary from the weekend hung tough and the ride on the bike really felt great.  I was already starting to look forward to this week’s workouts.  A record amount of mileage on the schedule and another 21 mile run on Sunday.

But something much more difficult was on the calendar for Monday morning than a little ride on the tri-bike.

Landry’s first day at day-care.

Momma Bear and I hadn’t talked a lot about this first day of school for Landry this weekend as I think both of us were dreading it just a little.

Dawn was able to stay home with Landry for her first three months, and I had spent the last month at home with her every day through the holidays.  Not a lot of Dad’s are so lucky, and Landry and I had a great time getting to know each other better and even learned a few tricks.

Blowing bubbles, rolling on my side.  We took Kayla for walks around the neighborhood and caught up on a lot of Saved by the Bell and Fresh Prince of Bel Air reruns.  But January 3rd was going to be a tough day, even for Dad.

Dawn and I met at the Day Care Center as I had gone into the office a bit early to get a few things done. 

We introduced Landry to Miss Barbie who will be Landry’s teacher for the next 8 months until she is ready to move up to the next “big-girl class”.  Paperwork was filled out, access codes secured, diapers, wipes, bottles, clothes, blankets all dropped off and it was time to leave.

Mom & Landry at School

Landry was happy as a clam getting her diaper changed as we stopped in to say one last goodbye.

As I put Landry’s car seat into Dawn’s car and kissed Dawn goodbye it was pretty tough on both of us.  Leaving our baby girl for the first time at school.

I definitely wasn’t feeling faster than a speeding bullet or more powerful than a locomotive this morning.

Should have worn those damn tights.

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Comments
  1. Cortney says:

    Good job Superman! I bet it was tough to drop off that cutie at daycare.

  2. Jodi Higgins says:

    Aww I remember the first day of day-care for both my kids. It was so very hard but I always found comfort in knowing that their teachers loved them so very much and treated them as if they were their own children. To this day my kids talk about their infant room teacher who has gone on to have two children of her own. She still works at the daycare/preschool where Grant attends Pre-K and there isn’t a day that goes by that Grant doesn’t light up and say “Hi Miss Kelly” when he passes her in the hallway! Each day it gets a little easier to leave them there knowing they are in good hands.

    Great picture of Dawn and Landry! They are both gorgeous!

    Way to push through that long run! In my eyes, you are superman!!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Jodi! Thanks so much for the visit and the message! I think Landry is going to have a lot of fun there at the Day Care Facility – it is really a great place and when she gets a little older she’ll be able to play in the sprinkler park and even take swim lessons when she’s 4. It was pretty rough yesterday morning though I have to say.

      Amen to the picture of the girls, I’m the ugly duckling of this family for sure!

  3. Aww! Little Landry is getting so big! I’m sure it was hard to drop her off, but as you say, she’s been lucky to have so much time with both of you already!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi AJ – She really is getting big isn’t she! Such a pretty, happy little girl. We are completely blessed a thousand times over. She’s taken to squealilng this week which is pretty cute – always learning something new!

  4. Ty says:

    A superman run indeed. You are smoking fast these days! Nice to have life balance with running and family. A good combo.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Ty! Thanks so much for the visit and the message. Funny how both of those things continue to make me better and better at the other. Finding that life balance is tough, but once you are there it is great, great stuff.

      Best to you from TX! Joe

  5. Carolyn says:

    Oh, yes. I remember my 5yr olds 1st day…mixture of sadness for seeing him off and not seeing the learning through his eyes. It was easier with my second kid. We shall see how it goes next year with my third kid.

    Are you using Pfytz’s training plan? If so, do you recommend it? Thinking about using it for my first marathon…someday. For now, I’m good with my 15 milers in training for my halfs.

  6. Carolyn says:

    Ah, disregard my post as I just read an earlier blog of yours mentioning using some of Mcmillan’s program.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Carolyn! Thanks so much for the message and to be honest I got a lot of great insight out of Pfitz’s book. I stole bits and pieces to come up with my own laboratory experiment this training cycle, and so far so good.

      I’m seriously considering his 18-55 for NYC this coming year with a few minor changes – I didn’t think I was quite ready for that this year coming back from injury, but now I’m running up to and through 55 miles a week on 5 days with very little trouble.

      For a first marathon, I really that Hal Higdon does a great job getting runners to and through that first one finishing happy and healthy. If you are really trying to “race” that first one – Pfitz and McMillian are as good as anybody.

      Let me know if you ever want to see the “marruchella” beginners plan – I’ve shared it with a few runners and they’ve done very well. Best to you! Joe

      • Carolyn says:

        Thanks for the reply Joe. I would love to see the “marruchella” plan! I don’t have a marathon on the immediate horizon, but it is much more within the realm of possibility as of late.

        While I am wanting to have a happy and healthy first marathon, I definitely want to be prepared and wasn’t quite sure Hagdon would do that (wasn’t so successful with my 1st half with his plan, but then again it could have been my fault). Hadfield’s advanced half program has been good for me.

  7. Matt says:

    Hi Joe,

    I remember too the first days of daycare for my kids. As the one that has always dropped the kids off, I’ve kind of gotten used to it (but not completely). I agree it helps knowing your child is in a place where they will be cared for with love by others. I’m on the other end of that now, as my 5 year old has only 6 more months of daycare before starting kindergarten next fall. I’ve told my wife, that I’m going to miss those drives to daycare and the morning conversations with my kids. (I won’t miss paying for daycare though :).

    I’ve enjoyed following your training both here and on the DM. You are going to have a great race, you are very committed to your training and always give your best!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Matt – thank you so much for the visit and the message! I really appreciate all of the great support over on dailymile and enjoy following along with your training.

      I can imagine that one of these days I’m going to look up and Landry will be in the back of the truck chattering on about how much fun she had at Day Care and all the things that she learned. She is growing so fast, learning so much every day I feel like if I blink I am missing something. Maybe that will help me run Austin a little bit faster 🙂 – Best to you Matt!

  8. Jim in Maine says:

    Hi Joe –

    Been thinking about this post all week for lots of reasons … for one, it gives me hope that my running will improve (never to the stage that you, Bob, Winston, Brendan and so many others are at – but better for me) if I keep applying myself, I didn’t realize you started in 2006 – you have come so far so fast … I guess I just presumed that you had always been a strong focused runner.

    Another reason is to flash back on the times that Patti and I have experienced first time situations with our children … first day at day care, first time leaving them for practice alone, watching their skating competition or harp performance or play or cross country meet, etc. Recalling the various emotions that went along with each instance – all emotions sharing the common theme of being tied to ongoing non-conditional love.

    Yet another reason was enjoying how well you handled an unusual run and where you found your motivavtion.

    Just a nice timely post on many levels for me and as I sit here with our extended family’s extended weekend having come to end and I try to finish plotting out running, fitness and racing (at least racing against my self …) plans for the next 6 months or so, I just had to write and say thanks. Seems my running has stagnated lately — I still deeply enjoy it, I just don’t seem to be progressing — but reading your posts and thinking about them while I am running is often something I do … This post just seemed to present more for me to think about and so I have for several days.

    I about read your 22 miler today on the DM just before I returned to this post. I smiled when I read about Dawn’s loving and supportive caution prior to the run as I recalled your picture of “Mom & Landry at School”. Our best to you and your lovely family from a couple of your friends in Maine.

    Take care, stay focused, have fun – and thanks, as always, for everything.

    Jim (& Patti)

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Jim! So great to hear from you. I was reading through your message last night again from the Emergency Room of the hospital. Landry’s first virus and fever, 103 at one point, which was pretty scary of course. But she is doing much better this morning, I’m headed home to spend the day with her and allow Dawn to get into the office.

      Your message could not have come at a more appropriate time. There are times that I think most distance runners have to “search for their mojo”, that next race or that next goal to chase. You are one focused man having just returned to the sport. Right now it’s tough as you have the winter in Maine to deal with, making hopping out there every morning a little more difficult than other times of the year, and your next “A” race, a bit down the road.

      I have no doubt that you are going to snap back with a vengeance this winter and spring and run some tremendous races. You have a great perspective that you are racing “you” – which from talking with a lot of runners, they amazingly lack that perspective.

      Lastly, as far as my year is concerned, it took a pretty big “defeat” at Boston to force my hand a bit. I wanted so badly to run well there for Dom and did not meet my expectations for the day. It made me really do some sould searching to decide if I wanted to be an “O.K.” Joe or a “Great” Joe when it came to the marathon.

      After Dom passed I realized that I really wanted to run at least one more “great” marathon, whatever that meant for my talents and abilities. It was that incident if you will that shook me out of my comfort zone and helped me make the changes in my training to chase that goal. Whether we get there or not, we’ll find out in about 6 weeks. But I’m proud of the work I have put in lately. Proud of my training, and whether the results are there or not on race day – I’ll still be pretty happy for having taken my best shot.

      In the end, that’s what this is all about.

      Best to you Jim! Please hug Patti for me. Hope to see you guys later this spring!

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