You can always find something to like about the beginning of something new. Sure there can be some nervousness, some trepidation, maybe even a little bit of fear mixed in there somewhere. But for the most part, that can all be channelled back into the endeavor in the form of energy and excitement.
Reaching the end of a journey can be tremendous as well. Satisfaction, pride, accomplishment – that life affirming feeling that there was a challenge in front of you and you stared it down. You overcame obstacles, changed course, dug deep and persevered. You continued on when perhaps some would have quit. Some certainly would have faltered. But you never ceded to the temptation, you soldiered on and made it to the finish line.
It’s the middle that is a real bitch.
The middle is where doubt lurks. Where distractions mount. The beginning when you are cock-sure and full of energy is too far away to draw energy from and alas, the finish is still too far in the distance to see.
We are 9 weeks into our training for boston, 9 weeks remain until the two-week taper will begin – when thoughts of race day will place one more log on the fire every morning to keep us warm.
But right now? I am firmly, 100% in the middle.
This week takes me to Buffalo, NY – where I will rise at 4:00 a.m. on a cold Tuesday morning for a 16 mile run. Meetings all day Tuesday, followed by a 6:00 a.m. flight home on Wednesday where another 11 miles will be waiting on me when I land in the afternoon.
Hill repeats on Thursday on short rest, then an 11/21 mile weekend, that will push us to our highest mileage week yet – 69.2 miles
In a way last week’s extra day off and lower mileage weekend with The Texas Half on Saturday served as a bit of a step-back week for me.
No hill repeats, no double on Tuesday and a lower mileage weekend all conspired to drop my mileage down to just a tick over 40. Racing the half-marathon on Saturday in windy conditions of course provided plenty of intensity with 13.1 miles at 6:31 pace, but my legs on Monday feel exceptionally fresh.
Fresher than they have felt in quite a few weeks. So it is time to push things forward this week and next, log some long miles, continue to build our endurance base and get ready for half-marathon number two at the Livestrong Austin Marathon & Half Marathon on February 19th.
I’ve given myself one more day to think about the Texas Half this weekend and I’ve decided to flush it and move on. After finishing first in my age group you would think I would be pleased with my race – it was my first ever age group win at the Half-Marathon distance – but as I’ve said in the past, I really only race myself at these events, and I can’t shake the feeling that I came up a little bit short on Saturday.
Yes the windy conditions made for a tough race. On a calm day I certainly would have run a faster time. But how much? That is the question that is impossible to know.
The fact is I would have rather ran a 1:24:35 and finished 5th in my age group than run the 1:25:35 time I did and finish first.
Perhaps that realization has redefined racing for me once and for all. Age group awards are great and all that, but it really is about the runner and the clock on race day.
Weather, the other runners, travel to the race – that is all just “stuff”. Everybody has their “stuff” they need to contend with.
But the clock tells the ultimate story, perhaps that is one of the things I like most about this sport, it’s honesty.
13.1 miles. 1:25:35. That’s all there is in the end.
Everything else is just “stuff”.
Would I have felt better about things had I stayed in Austin and run an even faster revised 3M half-marathon course on Sunday in perfect temperatures and low winds?
I’m not so sure. After seeing the course profile, and some of the times that a few runners I am familiar with posted this weekend, I don’t think so. Running a 1:22:XX on Sunday would have come with plenty of disclaimers as well.
Downhill point to point courses that drop several hundred feet in elevation are more about “going fast” and having fun racing than trying to really gauge your fitness level or training progress.
So in a way, I’m glad I opted for the more neutral course in Dallas on the same weekend with 181 feet of climbing and 175 feet of descent in high winds. It was a tougher race for sure, and in the end will pay greater dividends when the going gets tough at Boston.
I just wish I would have run the course a minute faster.
My race shoes for Boston arrived this week. I carefully removed the light blue flat laces and inserted a pair of no-tie black Yanx.
I wrote Dom’s initials on the instep and placed them in my closet where they will wait until March to be broken in at the Shamrock Half-Marathon, 4 weeks before Boston.
Perhaps that lost minute is resting quietly in my Boston Race Shoes – waiting until April 19th as I speed up Hereford Street and make the final left turn onto Boyleston.
Maybe that is the day when I will need that minute the most, when it will mean a whole lot more than on a windy January day in Dallas.