As I pulled up at the end of 10 hot, humid, steamy miles this morning and picked up my water bottle from the driveway I found myself at the middle of our preparation for Cottonwood.
56 workouts in the book, 56 workouts to go.
561.40 miles complete. 560.92 remain.
What started out as a daunting 20-week, 112 run, 1,148.50 mile march to the finish line on race day is now down to a much more manageable chunk. Just 7 more Wednesday Track workouts with the group before the taper, just 5 more long runs in excess of 20 miles.
While there is still a lot of work to do and certainly there are some tough workouts and miles in our future – especially this time of year in Texas – I can start to see the faintest outline of the end to all of this on the horizon.
In some ways there is satisfaction in getting to this point. I think that so far I have done a good job of monitoring my workload, adding to the base carefully, pushing hard on the hard days and running easy on the easy days as I remember all to well just how fit we were prior to the Houston Marathon and with just 4 weeks to go until race day, we suffered an injury and had to pull out of the event.
I won’t be able to relax until I come through that first taper week long run of 16 miles healthy – knowing full well all the heavy lifting is done and the only thing that can trip us up at that point is bad luck. We are due for some good luck this time.
But while it is easy to look back at what we’ve accomplished so far, I know that I am still no ready for where we hope to go on race day.
This morning in a moment of weakness I strayed from the planned workout for the first time in 56 runs. Instead of running an “easy 10” meaning 10 miles all around 7:50 to 7:55 pace – or Marathon Goal Pace + :60 seconds I found myself frustrated at the pace during the fifth mile.
77 degrees, 86% humidity I was already soaked to the bone, my shoes and socks squishing on the trail filled with sweat and I wanted the run to be over with. So I made a quick decision to drop pace by :10 per mile every mile over the last 5 to end around 7:10 pace. This would distract me a bit as I would no longer be counting each mile as it ticked slowly by, but I could think about pace and effort, gradually running harder and harder through to the end of the workout.
The final 5 miles had assigned goals of 7:50, 7:40, 7:30, 7:20, 7:10.
I ran them in 7:50, 7:40, 7:26, 7:17, 7:01.
The “old me” would have felt good about the workout and that I worked harder than planned, which is a good thing. Marathon training isn’t supposed to be easy – those quicker miles would pay off on race day.
But now I know better. There was absolutely no reason to run any faster than 7:50-7:55 on Tuesday morning as now my Track Workout on Wednesday is going to force me to exert more “effort” to hit the assigned paces that Coach will prescribe than if I had stuck to the plan and ran easier.
So for this Tuesday I let my mind wander and I lost sight of the big picture for the first time in 11 weeks and 56 workouts. Up until that point I had exercised a great deal of patience and focus. Then I grew tired, frustrated and deviated from the plan.
If I make that same mistake on race day in Utah, lady Marathon is going to rise up and squash me like a bug. She will show me absolutely no mercy and will punish me for deviating from the plan ever so slightly. I know this and still, I did it anyway.
Shame on me.
I have felt guilty all morning and know that I must do better. I will do better. This one slip-up cannot become a habit or I am going to pay the price on race day with a flat performance or a poorly executed race plan.
So tomorrow we get back on the horse and will run the precise workout that Coach assigns. No slower, no faster and do the same thing 55 more times in a row until race day.
Sometimes I wonder how many times I am going to have to be taught the same lesson over and over again before I get it.
To quote Red Foreman from That 70’s Show – “Dumbass”.
Time for me to get my act together.