Monday, October 29, 2007

A shot, Long Run Poetry, and mental toughness training

1. The Shot

The title of my last post was "I Need Air". Little did I know, when I wrote it, how true that would be. Last Friday morning was supposed to be a 17 mile long run. Since Michele could only run after getting her kids off to school, I had thought about meeting up with Tim, Heather, Holly and the gang at 3:30 a.m. to run with them - they were running 20. I set my alarm for 3:00, but I didn't need it. I was still awake when 3 a.m. rolled around - coughing, hacking, and trying to breathe. Needless to say, I turned the alarm off, opened another cough drop, and tried to get some rest. As soon as the doctor's office opened Friday morning, I made me and the boys and appointment. They have had this mess too, and it was time to to get rid of it. The doc gave us all antibiotics, and I got a steroid shot, too, to help spur on my recovery(a long run might be the only thing worth voluntarily taking a shot for). The shot helped, and I felt some better Friday night. I decided I would run my 17 at 6 a.m. Saturday morning. But alas, the Saturday morning lazy bug got a hold of me and I slept in. It didn't take long until I was feeling guilty and mad at myself for not already getting the long run done. J.T. was busy with work all day, and I had almost decided I would just do the run Sunday morning when Briar and Bo asked if they could go over to my parents' house. Honest...I swear I didn't put them up to it. I was dreading this run and actually looking for a reason to further procrastinate. But we called, and my parents were happy to have them come over. I got dressed for the run, we drove over to my mom and dad's, and I just took off from their house.

2. Long Run Poetry

With apologies to Dylan Thomas, ofcourse...

Why did I dread this run, you ask? I have had past issues with running from the light into darkness. It's just way too symbolic. In past long runs when I've done this, I can feel my energy going down with the sun...being swallowed by the darkness. Negativity surrounds me, and all I want to do is get back home.

I prefer to run from the darkness into the light. I am a solar-powered generator. Running as the sun comes up fills my body with energy and life. The light triggers things in my soul that nothing else can. The light is hope. It is the sign of a new day, a new beginning, and - you guessed it - the end of the run I've been gutting out in the darkness this whole time. The light is my victory.

But we don't always get to choose the field our battles will be fought on. Nor the rules of engagement (think headwinds in Vegas). Saturday night, I took off just before dusk for 17 miles. I expected the worst. I headed for the lights of downtown Manchester, knowing they were about 4 miles away, and I talked to the last inches of the sun as He dropped below the neon pink and orange sky. I listened, through the headphones of Briar's iPod, to SteveRunner's account of his Bay State Marathon experience. I decided, as I approached the intersection of traffic heading into town, that I could take on the darkness for the next 2 to 3 hours.

I did not go gentle into that good night.

I drove the pace down under 9:30 and felt fine. I thought about the superb 20 miler that Tim had emailed me about, where they ran just over 8.5 minute miles for 20 miles. It inspired me, and I picked the pace up a bit more. I felt SteveRunner's anguish, just like it was my own, as he experienced "The Wall" around mile 24 at the Bay State Marathon. He had a sub4 in his back pocket until that point. I pushed a little harder. At one point, I looked up at the sky above me, in all its vastness, and assured myself that God, himself, was all the majesty of the millions of stars, and was smiling at me. Proud of me. Understanding me. Loving me.

Mile 11 - 8:46
Mile 12 - 8:59

And I started to think I might be getting tired.

"You might not make it, you know. You've been running this thing like you were running a 12 miler. You still have 5 to go. It's dark. It's getting colder. You gonna slow down, or what?"

I raged, raged against the dying of the light.

My labored breath got louder and more visible, but my legs turned in perfect time. The last four miles were on the dark, rough Old Woodbury Hwy, but I knew I had this battle won. I finished the run in 2:37:21. Average Pace: 9:15. Average HR:160. Max HR:170.

By far, the best long run yet.

3. Mental Toughness Training
AKA, "I am an idiot." Yeah, so there was no poetry to speak of this morning. I got up at 5:00 and got dressed for my 9 mile VO2 Max run with 5x1000m intervals. I've been overdressing lately for my morning runs, so I decided to make sure I didn't make that same mistake today. Without even looking at the forecast, I put on shorts, a thin long sleeved shirt and a lightweight vest. No gloves, no ear warmers, nothing. I ran from the rec center to the track (about 3 miles) and realized what a complete moron I really am. I was frozen. It was 36 degrees!!!! Nothing I could do about it at that point, so I squatted down to squeeze through the gate at the track. Nothing doing. Stood back up, squatted back down, and tried again. No dice.

"What the ??? Okay, I know I've put on a couple of pounds, but surely not..."

And then I realize I can't even get my head through the gate. Much less my rear-end, extra pounds and all. It was chained up tighter today.


I turned around and proceeded to run the 1000m intervals through town, on the rough sidewalks and even did a few laps around the town square, like it was my own track. I am sure I didn't hit target pace, but I don't have the splits with me at the moment. Either way, I finished the workout in pain, but without my fingers falling off, got home and finally regained the feeling after about an hour.

If it wasn't a boost for the VO2 Max, at least it was some money in the Bank of Mental Toughness.


david said...

Glad you're feeling better and the long run went well. I, too, have trouble running from the light into the darkness. You are right, it is such a mental thing.

Taconite Boy said...

Immoo training gave Tac a couple tough training days...Their so good to have in the bank come race day. Your going to be sooo ready!

Tri-Dummy said...

That was a POWER post. Great job...ON EVERYTHING!

Your 9:15 pace for the long run sounded pretty smooth.

looked up at the sky above me, in all its vastness, and assured myself that God, himself, was all the majesty of the millions of stars, and was smiling at me. Proud of me. Understanding me. Loving me.

That was awesome.

Michele said...

Now that you are on steroids, I will never keep up ;)
Awesome run.
Look forward to having my partner back on Wednesday. See ya then.

RunBubbaRun said...

You made me tired just reading about your running. Great job pushing thru.

When you have the long miles, mental toughness is the only thing that gets you thru the darkness sometimes..

Now warm up and get a little rest.

Lisa said...

I am glad you are ok. It's obvious by that fabulous long run that you're feeling better! I hope I have at least one of those "long runs" before Dec 8th! :) I'm such a slacker compared to you guys!

IronJenny said...

Those splits are BEAUTIFUL!!!!!

Lance Notstrong said...

Cold always gives you that mental toughness. Be proud that you stuck with it and didn't just run back home :-)

Taryn said...

Awesome run - steroids do a girl good! ;)

tri-mama said...

Ugh, that chest stuff is just awful. Hope you all get better soon-nothing a few days of 80's and sunshine won't cure:-) Looking forward to the meet up-see you in a couple days

Steve Stenzel said...

Stupid tight chain. Way to not give up and opt to run around town!

Benson said...

Very moving post. I think you're pretty darn tough already and these last 2 runs sound like they raised you up to another level. Rock on...and up.