Monday, July 21, 2014

It's Possible

Something happened...and I don't know WHAT it was. But it was good. 

The last week of training has been probably the best, most interesting, most thought-provoking week I've had all year.  Outside of getting my miles up over 50 for the week (with 2 rest days) I feel like something happened.  Some sort of synapse-related, lungs/legs THING happened this week.  I've been really working this year to build speed and get my body to latch onto the next level, and this is something that mentally I'm slightly angsty about, given the little aches and pains I've been managing in the foot/other areas of my legs over the last month or so. 

There has been such a mental push this year to MAKE it to Boston.  I mean, I've been trying since I was 17, but this year feels different.  A BQ time (3:05, 7:01 pace) is something I feel is well within my reach, but it is a PUSH.  There's no way around it.  There's no way for my body to get there without making changes.  It is not enough anymore to just put in a training cycle at easy run pace and rely on long slow runs to get me over the hump.  It's just.. not.  I've never been a believer that your legs will magically do something for you on race day that you haven't learned how to do (or at least very close to it ) in training, over and over again.  I guess my style tends to link up more with the concepts of "race simulation" type runs that get your head and legs wrapped around the idea and FEEL of running faster, comfortably.  It is working for me, both mentally and physically.  But there's obviously a drawback to that, and it's the risk of getting injured.  And that's something I've wrestled with over the last 5 years pretty heavily. (both in theory, and in physical consquences of dealing with injuries) 

So what HAPPENED this week? Well, Wednesdays are my typical double-day with 5 miles in the AM and 5 miles in the PM.  It's a great aerobic day of teaching the legs to recover but also to run in the heat of the afternoon while they are tired.  My first 5 in the AM felt fine, and I took it easy.  But in the afternoon something was firing in the legs that I couldn't ignore.  First mile in 6:45, which was reasonable given the climb to get out of my neighborhood.  But once that ticked over I found another gear, and another, and another.  I knew I was pushing hard but I felt like I was in control.  I wasn't DYING.  I wasn't in oxygen debt.  I was just, hauling.  The last two miles were both sub 5:55 pace, and that's something that has never happened during a training run before.  Ever.  College included. 

Was it maybe a bit unsafe?  YES.  I felt guilty about it actually.  I felt like there was no way I WASN'T going to pay for that in some way. I felt like I was setting a bad example.  I felt like it was unnecessary... but I couldn't ignore what was happening. My legs felt invincible.  There was still gas in the tank even.  I was shocked.  It felt weird to be laughing at myself (outloud) and awkwardly fist-pumping, alone on some random neighborhood side-street where I finished up.  And it was then that I uttered out loud the words that have stuck with me all week:  "I guess it's possible".  I rode the high for the rest of that evening.  I guess it's possible.  It's possible to not see light at the end of the tunnel for weeks on end of nose-to-the-grind training and injury freakouts, and then all in one moment come shooting out of the tunnel like an out of control rocket with a smirk that won't go away. 

This last Saturday I put in 15 miles at 6:50 pace, which was another distance/pace season best and certainly a best over the last SEVERAL years.  I think I still had those 4, simple, intoxicating words filling just about every breath.  I guess it's possible.  It is now.  I know it is.  Did I wake up this morning with doubts?  YUP.  Sure did.  That's what it means to be a human, and to wrestle with the day to day fears and struggles.  But I got out the door, with a bit more pep in my step to start this new week, knowing that if I can just manage the balance for the remainder of these 11 weeks I have a real shot at doing something special in the marathon this year.  And if that doesn't happen, at least I can say I laid it ALL out there and did everything in my power to ready myself for the task.  No regrets.

It IS possible.   

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Benevolently Letting Others Gawk

Patience BRO, I said to myself...

It's been a decent last 10 days or so since I raced on the 4th of July.  The foot seems to be healing but is still THERE (which is good, because I need it).  No, the oddly tight and little tender top of the foot is still THERE.  I can still run and put miles in with no discomfort, but after runs it gets a little iffy.  I'm working through it slowly and starting to ramp back up this last week.  SWEET.  Tad bit of mental mojo coming back too.  Double days, calories for miles, getting lean....Even good runs after injury symptoms feel doubtful and non-satisfying sometimes though, so it's good to have some fire back. 

Life in the Hammer Nutrition lane is going really well.  I'm loving the products and even more I'm loving the people I'm connecting with that I get to share these products WITH.  There's nothing like getting to be a part of the very beginning of people's running/athlete lives as they find themselves and latch onto the fire that they see burning in others around them.  It's intoxicating!  It's refreshing.  It's amazing.  It's good to remember what it was like when everything was new, and it's even more important to seek out that energy in yourself again.  New and REnew, err'day. 

Life in the kiddos lane is CUTE.  It's just straight up TOO cute to handle most days.  My man-ovaries are dying lately.  Exploding.  "Ess-pwoding", as my daughter would say.  These kids know more about running, exercise, and being active on a daily basis than I ever did at their age, I love that.  I love that they are into it and inquisitive and they see it around them everyday.   

"Dad, are you gonna take a WUN?  Are you?  Are you taking a WUN wight noww?? Ven why are you wearing vose WUNNING shorts and not a SHIRT onnn?".    

"Well dad is going to BBQ in these shorts because.....well... because... because they are really comfortable.. and... because daddy can wear whatever he wants to wear, right?!?  Yeah, I JUST WANT TO OK".    ..............  and it's THIS face that gets you.. EVERY. TIME.

So much of our time is spent on trying to find what is NEXT, and trying to plan for it so that whatever is next doesn't surprise us and catch us off gaurd.  We want that.  We want that control and that stability.  But there's something to be said for seeking to enjoy what is NOW, and to enjoy what is happening TODAY.  Don't get me wrong, there's a huge piece of my life that is planning/organizing/dreaming/wanting/longing.  It's who I am. 

But, that little face over there on the yoga mat is gonna be in highschool someday and I'll be wrecked if I miss out on her, and on NOW because I'm wearing my "next" blinders.  And that little protective snuggler-dude brother.... I've gotta be IN IT with them.  I can't just pray for bedtime to come quickly so I can eat an entire pizza in peace. (although thinking back to a time on JULY 14th, 2014 when that happened.... yikes.)   NO way man.  Somebody slap the crap outta me if I ever start to get that way.  These kids ARE my life.  *que Scottish Braveheart accent*  "I want ta LEVV" 

This MAY have been the most dis-joined blog post of all time, but, its what was on my mind, so pretty much DEAL WITH IT.  I mean, "Blog" stands for "Benevolently Letting Others Gawk", so, gawk away at my disjointed blog. 

Also I should probably figure out what blog really means.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Firecracker 5K - Race Report

Firecracker 5K - O'Fallon, MO
Time: 18:00 (PR, previous 18:11)
Pace: 5:48
Place: 3rd in 20-29 AG
Overall: 8th out of 1111

Wow, fun morning! I had doubts going into this one after a lackluster last 2 weeks and feeling some discomfort in a few areas of the foot/legs. I didn't know what to expect.  I've been building this whole spring towards a 5K PR and the biggest speed base I could muster going into this fall's 3:05 BQ attempt(s), and up until I started dealing with this foot issue I had been ON TRACK to hit it.   

I showed up at the Firecracker 5K in O'Fallon and got in a nice 1.5mi warm up.  My legs felt good but it's hard to tell until you really start pushing some days.  We took off at the gun and the front pack of runners I was in immediately split from the rest of the field. I felt smooth, relaxed and strong and settled in. I glanced at my current pace and we landed at right about 5:40 pace, but it felt like exactly what I needed to be doing.  I had put in mile repeats at that range earlier this spring and it felt familiar.  First mile was 5:41 and we rounded a corner and shot down a side street.

There were 3 guys running the 10K that were loping along at about 5:45 pace making it look stupid easy so I relaxed my form and tucked in behind them for a good pull up a nasty little incline. Mile 2, 5:45... my breathing was labored at this point and I was starting to really push and dig. The course went up a long slow grade at the 2.6 mile mark then turned around and came back down and onto the warning track inside the ballpark. (finish was at home plate) Mile 3, 6:03, GAH, pushing up that incline took a few seconds away. I sprinted around the warning track and down the 3rd base line as hard as I could to dip sub-18.... I thought I might have a shot at it and I could just FEEL like I was close.  I  was watching the clock all the way as I rounded the corner.... 17:56, :57...:58.. :59... I punched my watch and leaned across the mat and when I gathered myself the watch said 18:00. FLAT. EVEN. I hoped for a chip time of sub 18 but that was it.. official time 18:00.  Super stoked for a PR of 11 seconds from my high school days.  After I gathered myself I got in about 2.5 more miles of cool down back and forth to the car to get my Hammer gear on and get settled in for food and awards.

It was a real treat getting something positive out of my body, given the last few weeks.  It was such a relief to push and get a level of performance and response out of my legs and lungs that I don't often get.  The body goes in ups and downs and has aches and pains. But, it doesn't do us any good to doubt ourselves and all the work we put in. I felt strong... and I loved being out there racing at what felt like a high intensity, but still under control.  Now it's time to move forward into the next phase of training, building a bit of volume and stretching out that pace on the track to 10k and half marathon pace work.  One day at a time... eyes fixed on the fall.