Tag Archives: motivation

Plague, Plows and Plans

I run all winter. I don’t do it because I think everybody should, and I don’t do it to prove a point. I do it because I feel like it keeps me from putting a box around my running and shrinking that box over time. If I plan to run in all conditions, then there’s no chance of the excuses progressing from the entirely valid “It’s snowing, pitch dark, and below 0, I’ll just hit the gym.” to “It looks like it might rain.”

Plenty of people have enough self discipline to come up with a real set of rules and stick to them. I just run unless I can’t. That’s my simple rule.

This week I had two instances where I couldn’t. Last Friday I got a head cold, which I ran 8 miles with on Sunday. I took my customary rest day on Monday, despite the day off and the warm weather. By Tuesday night I regretted missing that chance to run. The headcold progressed to seemingly a sinus/bronchial infection, which knocked me out for 17 hours of sleep, and had me miss work, and any thoughts of a run, on Wednesday.

With hacking and coughing dominating over speech, I worked from home Thursday and Friday. With that flexibility, I entertained thoughts of daytime runs, so Thursday I ventured outdoors at the end of the workday, only to find that winter had actually arrived. 21 degrees on the weather report did not tell the full story of the bitter cold I encountered as I stepped out the door. Combine that with my weak state, and I turned around after merely a 2 mile total run, with my fingertips and face going numb.

Luckily after a doctor’s appointment on Friday, the magic of antibiotics, combined with beer & pizza with friends in Toledo, had brought me back from the brink, so after a week of merely 2 miles, I ran 5 miles Saturday and 8 miles sunday for a respectable 15 mile week.

I don’t always know when that commitment to always run is going to really work, but this time it did. Running all those miles this weekend picked my mood up following a really crummy week, and put me in the mindset to lay down my plans for training for the Pittsburgh Half in the spring. Instead of feeling like Pittsburgh is just a distant concept, I’m looking forward to starting my 15 week plan in the week of the 30th.


Pre-race jitters

It feels like such a normal weekend, Saturday breakfast at Dmitri’s, lazy afternoon. Saturday has been a day off running for a while, and I’m not traveling anywhere for this race. Plus, understandably, this race is less of an “event” than Pittsburgh; not my first 13.1, no friends in town.

But the jitters are here, that feeling of fear, even if I know I can do it. It’s not really a lack of confidence just anxiety. I know it’s illusory. I’ve come here to my blog to exorcise my worries.

Can i run 13.1 miles?
Yes, I’ve done it before.

Will the hill knock me out of the race?
No. My hill repeats were much more exertion, and I did 8 hill climbs in an hour. Worst thing it could do is slow my time, but I’m not running this race for a PR.

Will I be on time, able to get my packet and bib and run?
I’ve confirmed my registration. The race location is an hour away and Steph and I plan to leave at 5:45, over 2 hours before the race starts. It may be a big race but there should be plenty of time for these things.

Water stop every mile. More frequent than I need, nice and predictable, and never too far away.

Race breakfast is nice and defined and well practiced. I should be totally set with PB and english muffin and a banana in the car, along with a nice, hot, black cup of coffee.

The only factor of this race that is in the slightest bit actual worrisome. The temperature dropped dramatically here over the past few days, and the current temperature at start time will be 39 degrees. Not one of my long runs has been run in those conditions, and not even my shorter ones provide any insight since it’s only been in the taper week.

My plan is to wear throwaway gloves and a pullover, and hand off the pullover either right at the start or to Steph if I see her and don’t need it any more. The forecast isn’t calling for rain so hopefully that holds up; I can run in the rain and cold just fine, but my training hasn’t had much of that. It could leave me seriously miserable.

I’ve laid out my gear (including obligatory race penguin. Say hi, Hermes!) because that usually helps me get my confidence rolling, and here it is:

My normal sized pasta dinner has been eaten, and now Steph and I are going to go out for a quick beer to unwind and add a bit of liquid carb before an early bedtime.

Goodnight, and you’ll hear from me at the finish line.

On to the next one!

The one week recovery and revelling in my finish period is over. And though I’m still carrying around my half-marathon finisher medal, it’s time to set my eyes on the horizon!

My 10k time on the results page for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon was 1:05:05, a PR for me by over 10 minutes, so I think it’s time to get that one on the books, and blow my Detroit Turkey Trot performance out of the water. So I signed up for a 10k in Northville!

Solstice Run Logo

I’m a sucker for cute, goofy stuff, and a frantically running tiki guy on the medal sounds like something I’m in for. The timing of the race is right, long enough for me to do some speedwork and prep, but not long enough to put together WAY too complicated of a training plan. For right now, I just want to get something planned and jump right in.

I’m also going to, for the first time ever, be planning more than the next race in line. Now that I know I can run the half marathon distance, I know I can run all KINDS of great races, and hopefully enjoy the “racing season” that everyone talks about existing. Specifically, I want to run 2 more half marathons this year, at least partially because Steph says I can’t have a 13.1 decal for the car until then. (What!? At that point I should get a 39.3, amirite?)

Ready for the race, but not ready for the taper!

The Plan has become a sort of religion for me, complete with Sunday Services.

For weeks, every Sunday, I carved out hours to pay worship to sun, rain, wind and road, to beat myself into a new form, a runner. I have had a plan, a routine. I have metrics and numbers, and goals. I’ve added to my weekly mileage, upped my endurance, crammed 5 miles into a weekday run where before I struggled to get 3 in.

And then I started to taper. No long run Sunday. 4 miles Tuesday, no run Wednesday, 3 tiny miles today. Only 2 tomorrow. And then it’s race weekend, the whole point of this exercise (or maybe, just the tip of the iceberg that is really The Point.). And I’m confident, I’m ready for the race. All the change to my schedule, my 5x a week worship, my daily catechism, I was not ready for. I wasn’t ready for the taper.

Tapering is hard. For some people, it seems to be physical. Cold symptoms, cramps, wild appetite. Not for me. For me, it’s just breaking my mold that’s hard. Hard to tell a random co-worker that I’m only running 3 miles today, only 9 miles this week. Hard to fill in all the yellow squares on my summary log. I’m listening to my body, and doing the right thing this last week, but I want to do more!

But not as bad as I want to run the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. I want to run it strong, and fast, and leave nothing on the table. So right now I have to load up that table with rest and kindness to my body. Not anything it wants, but just a few extra carbs with dinner. Going to sleep early. Running 11 minute miles when it screams to run 10s.

Look out Smithfield Ave. Look out, Roberto Clemente Bridge. Look out Heinz Field. I’m coming. I’m going to storm the Strip District, I’m going to power my way out into the Northside and burn my way down Carson St, and then I’m coming for you, Pittsburgh.

2 days, 17 hours to the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. 2 days, 19 hours, 30 minutes to the finish line.

Half Marathon, Week 9

I decided that after training by running after lunch for a few months, I needed to make sure I wasn’t going to get a nasty surprise on race day with my customary diet and wakeup times for races. So I set an alarm and woke up at 7am Sunday morning, ate my run breakfast (English muffin w/ PB, banana, cup of coffee), suited up and headed out the door.

I ran 11 miles that morning with 0.6 of warmup and cooldown, and the whole thing was great. Near the end, my left leg started to cramp, a cramp that stayed sore until I slept, and returned/worsened during my 5 mile run last night. So for the first time, tonight, I’m missing a run. I’m doing it because everytime I’ve seen someone ask “my leg hurts, should I run to stick to my plan” the answer has been “Don’t risk injuring yourself this close to your run. Sticking to your plan isn’t going to make you invulnerable.”

So I’m icing and resting today. And I’m skipping a cross train tomorrow. And reducing my mileage on Friday to an easy 3 instead of an easy 5. But I’m hoping to still go on my last long run Sunday.

Oddly, instead of feeling defeated or deflated by it, I’m content. There’s a little frustration at my leg, a desire for it to get better so I can keep going, but I don’t feel as dissatisfied as I could. I’m motivated to get better and get back on my feet and running, even if the way to do that is to not run right now.

17 days to the Pittsburgh Half Marathon.