learning endurance

I’ve had some interesting runs of late–none of them alike.  I keep meaning to blog about the highs and lows of my training, but I only ever write things in my head.  So–a brief recap of some notable runs:

Sunday Aug 19: I was pumped about running 16 miles at McAlpine with two Charlotte ladies.  One of the women coaches novice runners like myself, the other was a regular running mate from my CLT days. Running flat/wide trails for my longest distance yet was also appealing.  But Sunday morning came, and with it rain, thunder, lightening… both ladies had to bail.  Having never run McAlpine before, I bailed too.  No use in getting lost while running 16 solo.  The rest of the day was beautiful!  And every time I saw a runner, I felt a tinge of failure.  Jay reminded me I was on vacation and could run Monday instead.

Monday, Aug 20: Redemption day!  Met up with my friend Shenna at 5:30am for a 6 mile loop, did that same loop back on my own, and finished up the last 4 miles with my friend Sloan.  It was perfect because a) Shenna gave me the best excuse to get up early, b) it rained so I didn’t feel like a wuss for not running in the rain the day before, c) the in-between miles alone were especially inspiring as I considered the meaning of running along the same roads/sidewalks I used to share with my dear friend Aimee (in whose memory I am training for), d) Sloan helped me with a strong finish–the same girl that convince me to run my first 10k a few years back.

Thursday, Aug 23: Glad to be back at UA for a workout in Central Park.  We were slated for a 4.3 mile tempo, with splits given every 1387.5 meters.  My splits were 6:20, 6:25, 6:15 and 6:22.  This means my pace was pretty consistent… my last split was supposed to be the fastest, but I was trucking it up Cat Hill as fast as I could go.  The odd thing is that the per-mile pace for the workout was 7:20.  Wah?  I’ve never run 7:20’s in a 4-miler or even a 5k.  What the heck.  Part of me was like, wahoo!  Improvement!  But the other part of me was like, uh-oh… I pushed to hard.  Needless to say I was pretty sore the next couple of days.

Sunday, Aug 26: I was hugely relieved that UA scheduled a supported long-run the day I had to do 18.  Runners were supposed to run at “marathon pace” as opposed to “training pace.”  When I explained to Jerry (team coach) that my marathon pace was my training pace, he said, “That’s ok for today, but we need to change it.  The marathon is a race.”  “Not for me, it’s not!” I responded, “My goal is to have fun and finish comfortably.”  “Ok then,” he said hesitatingly.  One of the benefits to my husband coaching me through this race is that we’re on the same page.  Jerry is an awesome coach–he’s perfect for competitive runners like my husband… but not me, not this race!  I went out with the 9-min pace group, and we kept it just under 9’s.  My legs were still a little tired from Thursday’s tempo, but I was feeling good.  We split at mile 16 so everyone could finish their own mileage (16-20) at their own pace.  I knew my last miles were supposed to be the fastest, so I pushed through mile 17, feeling good, and then BAM.  Pain.  My left ankle hurt so badly, I thought maybe I had broken it.  But I was 90% sure it was muscular, so I ran through to 18.5.  The pain never stopped that last 1.5 miles.  Oh no.  Crap.  What’s going on.

Long story short–I rolled my ankle slightly at mile 5, and the gradual swelling from that combined with swelling from a unfortunately placed mosquito bite (smack dab on my tendon) resulted in substantial pain.  I limped through half of Monday until the bite subsided–and all was well!  I was relieved and embarrassed.  Stupid mosquito.

And that brings me up today.  I my legs are aching.  I know I did 18 on Sunday and a tough workout on Tuesday, but I did nothing but ice, rest, compress, soak and elevate on Monday!  And I ran easy on Wednesday and Thursday!  And I’m taking today off!  Most of my friends are suffering from soreness or sudden cramps/strains/pulls… I guess maybe we’re to the point in our training where the idea of “endurance” really comes to life.  It’s not just getting through the long runs, it’s getting through the days, weeks, months of training.  It’s getting through every-day tasks when you’re sore from last night’s workout.  Getting through the mental games you play with yourself over every hint of pain.  Getting through the weeks you feel awesome, and the weeks you feel like a hot mess.  It’s being surprised to find a spring in your step despite your aching muscles.  It’s new territory for me.

Tonight Jay and I will be carb-loading and going to bed early to gear up for an early half-marathon at Rockaway Beach.  Earlier in my training, we had this down as a race.  But with my hamstring injury last month, all my long runs got pushed back a week, making this a recovery week rather than a race week.  It’s still a race, and my goal is to PR.  But Jay reminds me that this is just a step toward the real goal, and not to go all-out.  The same goes for my hubby–tomorrow will be only the 2nd time he’s run 13 miles since April.  It’s a small field, and I know he’ll be tempted to push it.  But the goal is to recover from 4 months of injury, and this is just a step along the way for him.

So much learning, so much to endure, and one heck of a good reason to run through it all.

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