It’s 1:27am and I can’t sleep. This is not a new thing. Turning on the light and doing something productive (as opposed to laying in bed, staring at the clock, and periodically flipping over) is though. Tonight it is, anyway.
This used to be a blog that nobody remembers. The last time I wrote anything here was May 2014, and there’s not even any proof. I have, what I think, is as good enough a reason as any to resurrect it: a 7:41 average pace. Just a 4 miler, nothing impressive, but I really need to document it using lots of words instead of just numbers as usual.
I’ve been having a rough time with running for quite a while now, for about the last six months or so. Back in October, I closed out the season with hands down the best race I’ve ever run – a half with two minute PR and a strong (at least for me) placement. The thing that made that so special was the fact that there was payoff for all the hard work this time. When I looked at my finish stats, I could see possibility, improvement, proof that all my goals were this close. Exciting! So after that I took a break for a couple months, and in January got back to work because this time the BQ was in the bag. It just was.
That’s not what happened…obviously. This winter’s training cycle started out rough, and never really got better. Somehow this winter was worse than last year’s. I don’t know how that could have even been possible, but it was, and it was straight up HARD to get out there and get my workouts done. All it did was snow. The first week was probably the best week, and after that every run somehow became more and more abysmal. This training was slightly more advanced than last year’s, I felt slow from having to run through the snow and over ice, I got sick with a horrendous cold a few weeks in… I feel like I wasn’t able to successfully jump back into training after that, and my long runs (when I could slog through them) were suffering. But really the rest of it is my own fault, because those are all manageable challenges that I (should) know how to work through. Doubt showed up at some point and I didn’t fight it hard enough. That’s really the simple answer to what happened. Doubt always comes around when you’re working toward a goal, I know I’m not the only one who deals with it. For whatever reason, instead of kicking it out of my mind immediately when it came knocking, I let it hang out and chill for a bit. And get comfortable. And sleep over. And move in. And refuse to get the fuck out. No one likes a squatter but this was some abysmal shit for real.
Anyway, I had doubt about the marathon, so I dropped down to the half. I doubted my ability to PR the half in the middle of actually running it, and jumped out to take my first DNF. I should also mention, even though I don’t really wanna, that in March, before deciding to not run the full, I ran the worst half of my life. After the failed half in May, I ran a 10k to try and get a confidence boost, but that didn’t go so well either. I’m not rehashing any of that because, this post is actually supposed to be positive.
I’m getting there. Seriously.
The past month hasn’t been much better. I’m slower than I’ve been in a loooong time. Like the first mile of every run has been in the 9 minute range and I’ve barely been able to get the average down to around 8:15. I can’t remember it ever being this much of a struggle. I’ve been trying to convince myself it doesn’t matter and that these lows are normal, but this time last year I was 5k training, and “easy” runs were 7:45 with some 6:30s thrown in there during speed work. You should see me right now, trying to shake my body loose from this straightjacket of a cringe. HOW does this happen?
ANYWAY. Tonight (last night?) I headed out for a run around 8:30pm, had to wait til then because of some vicious heat all day, even that late in the evening it was still rather toasty out there. There’s been quite a lot on my mind all day, so I decided to go out “semi-nude” (no phone/music) and try to use the run for temporary distraction, if possible, maybe if there could be a belated Christmas miracle? I’m not much of a “don’t think about what’s bothering you” person.
I don’t know what happened, but when my watch chirped an 8:09 first mile, I was like daaaang, ok, I’m doing it, I’m gonna run like my normal self this time, and I’m gonna feel happy for a little while before today ends.
So yeah, I just kept pushing a little harder the entire time, and even though I should have really just ignored my watch altogether, the thrill (loser) of seeing the 7:59, and then the seconds steadily float away from there was just…the best.
This is all silly and I know I’m a goober, but this is why I love running. Sometimes it’s
excruciating not easy, but you keep going and it gets where you’re supposed to be. Sometimes it’s REALLY there for you when you need it, desperately, at exactly the right time.
I’m gonna go ahead and stop here before my insomnia-drenched brain decides to have me start typing Journey lyrics or “Eye of the Tiger” or some shit. It’s about to be 3am in one minute, by the way.