Sunday, October 30, 2016

Florence and the (interrupted)

I've been meaning to sit down and write an update for a couple weeks now (he says at the beginning of every post), but after my day yesterday, I decided to write a different one. So this will be a two-for-one. But really a three-for-one after I noticed the last post I wrote in May never got published. Lucky you, Scott. Nope, that was 7 days ago! Post what you've got or the race might happen first!

"Training" is not a word I'd causally throw out to describe the way that I've prepared for the Richmond Marathon. It hasn't gone well. After a rocky first 5 months of the year, I went back to PT looking for a fix. I was told to change the way I run by increasing my cadence and to start wearing a heal lift in my right shoe at all times. For the first time in my life, I started running with an iPhone strap-- not so that I could listen to music, but so that I could listen to a metronome set for 175 beats per minute. It wasn't bad when I was at the beach running alone, but it had to get annoying to my friends when I got back. It was a struggle, especially trying to pair the beat with my foot strike, not with my breathing. I had a lot of really short, fast runs as I re-learned how to keep my heart rate and pace down while putting my feet on the ground as quickly as possible.

It did not go well. I was still in pain. So I went back to Dr. Wilder and he gave me three choices: a) try for another month, come get an injection of something, take two weeks off, then start trying again; b) get the shot right now and take two weeks off; c) something more invasive. I went with option B, got a shot and stopped running for another two weeks.

In those two weeks, I tried to bike and swim every day. I got my biked tuned up for the first time since I bought it from Ryan Stevens in 2005. I went on real bike rides and I went on wasted bike rides where I just peddled next to Matt and Alec while they ran. I actually enjoyed being on the bike for the real rides and had this grand plan of cross training every week once I got going again. The bike is still in the garage, my swim goggles are still in a bag by the door, and I haven't been doing either of those things for months. Shocking news, I'm sure.

When I tried to get back on the horse, it still hurt. So rather than going back to Bob for option C, I just decided to suck it up and see if I could get through this. I kept focus on my cadence, sans metronome, and have tried to do everything I can the right way. I jumped into workouts and long runs very, very quickly. Too quickly. I was suffering every time. I think my long run progression was 8 miles, 11 miles, 14 miles, 18 miles, 20 miles. On the 18 mile run, I probably should have stopped and taken an Uber home for the last two miles because they were so slow. I'll blame that on Rachel though, she was probably there and probably pushing it early.

Back when I signed up for Richmond, I also committed to run the Virginia 10 Miler in Lynchburg. Alec tried to talk me out of doing it, but I didn't want to back out of the race if I was healthy. I contacted the race director, told him about my fitness, and offered to pay for my entry, but he insisted that I still come down and give it my best shot as a comped elite athlete. I've never felt less elite than I did on that day. I don't even know what place I got or care to do the math to know what my total time was, but on an extremely challenging course, I ran the slowest paced race of the last 10 years or so probably. I think it was 6:09 pace. At no point did I feel like I was actually racing, I was just running hard the whole time. The only upsides of the race was that it gave me a benchmark, and I was able to run the last uphill mile at that same pace, which was faster than I'd done for several of the previous miles. So I came home happy and did another 20 miles the next day. That was the end of one of my TWO 60+ mile weeks during this build up.

I have never felt so unprepared for a marathon. I've had 25 days off since I was cleared to run again on August 5. That means I've only run 71% of the time. I've averaged under 44 miles per week for the last 12 weeks. That's 40 miles less per week than I averaged for the same 12 week period this far out from my last marathon. Again, not feeling prepared.

I've been adjusting my goals. It's hard going out and doing workouts, hearing the paces that I'm trying to run and thinking that they're so fast when in reality they're much slower than things I've done in the very recent past.

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