Hard to believe that summer is just about over, Landry is going to turn 2 years old on Wednesday and Dawn will have her own Birthday on Friday. If you ask Landry, Mom will be turning 29 – I wonder where she got that information …
There is a part in every training cycle where I feel like I am more or less in race preparation purgatory. I’m sort of caught in between stages. I’m not quite to the finish line yet and ready to start the taper and my body is starting to show a few cracks here and there. Even though I can’t quite make out the light at the end of the tunnel, my body can almost sense its approach. I stay on course as I know that these are the workouts that make the athlete on race day. These are the days that while they are tough and you feel as if you are getting beaten down, what is actually happening is that you are growing stronger. It’s just not revealed to you until the last few days before the race when the reduction in mileage and additional rest and sleep that you load up on during race week is like a magic potion. You feel more fresh than you have in months. Rested. Strong. Determined.
Then it is just a matter of eating right, getting your sleep, finalizing your race plan and then …. Boom.
Over the last two weeks we have covered 329 miles. 200 on the bike, 119.5 on the run and another 9+ in the pool. That’s a lot of ju-ju.
Truth be told I’m feeling pretty strong right now – Last Tuesday I ran my fastest ever training mile (5:51), the only time I’ve ever run a faster mile has been in a race. I also broke through a barrier that while a huge accomplishment, would not register as such to anyone other than me really.
I have been doing Hill Repeats on Thursdays for close to two years now. Always it is the same drill. A slow jog to the bottom of the hill, I turn and then race up the 3/10 mile long hill that climbs 65 feet at 5K effort. To cover the distance it takes me somewhere between 1:43 and 1:47. If it is warmer I am a little slower. If it is cooler I am a little faster. Sometimes the wind is helping me up the hill, other times it is penalizing me in the form of a headwind.
But this past Thursday on a 71 degree morning with no noticeable wind – basically a neutral day – I kept replaying a quote about racing from Bill Rogers over and over in my mind. “If you want to win a race you have to go a little berserk out there.”
As I finished my first repeat in 1:45 I decided to try to get as close as I could to 1:40. A mark I had never reached in over two years.
Repeat 2: 1:42
Repeat 3: 1:41
Repeat 4: 1:40
As I saw the 1:40 on my watch under the street lamp as I made my turn back to the bottom of the hill I thought to myself, you are so close. You have to go for it.
I reloaded on the turn, kicked my legs up high and leaned into the start, hit my watch and shot up the hill like a rocket.
Repeat 5: 1:39
1:39 for that repeat is the equivalent of 6:00 min./mile flat pace over 3/10 of a mile up a 65 foot incline. Something I never have been able to do before. I settled back down into my workout and ticked off 4 more repeats.
Repeat 6: 1:42
Repeat 7: 1:40
Repeat 8: 1:41
Repeat 9: 1:41
1:41 became my “new normal”, which is how breakthrough moments come about. With only nine repeats on my training schedule for the week I thought about my marathon pace mile that was due to close out the workout, then almost automatically my body turned to the right and jogged back down to the bottom of the hill. Let’s add one more repeat this morning and go for it again.
Repeat 10: 1:39
I recovered for 2/10 of a mile to the mark on Avery Ranch Road that sits exactly one mile from our driveway and I fired up the legs for a 6:52 mile home.
I locked into our marathon goal pace effort and never glanced at my watch. One of the things I want to make sure of by the time we arrive at the Houston Marathon is that I can run 6:52 pace literally in my sleep. I don’t want it to be a pace that I am searching for. I want it to feel automatic, completely locked in. This way with race day adrenaline and focus, our 6:52’s become 6:45’s over the first half of the race. We create our wiggle room for our goal of breaking 3 hours and then lock into those 6:52’s and hold them as long as we can over the second half of the race.
As we hit the driveway and heard the beep of my watch I glanced down under the streetlight.
Our New Normal.