Monday, October 31, 2016

The Machine - Dedicated to Alec Lorenzoni

This morning, under a beautiful star filled sky, Alec confessed something that I've known all along. He looks up to me and I'm his hero. As if telling me that part wasn't hard enough for him, the reason behind his outpouring of emotions was the fact that he's having a difficult time watching me suffer through our workouts and runs without keeping my usual up-beat attitude. One of the things he's always admired about me is the way that I've maintained my confidence and positive outlook on running despite my many ups and downs, especially since moving to Charlottesville, where the balance seems to have shifted more downwards than upwards.

It hurt my heart to hear Alec share this with me. Not because I didn't really know it, but because Matt was there to hear it as well. So it was especially embarrassing for Alec to admit that in front of Matt, who by all accounts is the real man that Alec and I both should aspire to be. Matt had to hear Alec whimpering like a little baby about how he needs to see me get back on the horse and be the champion he knows that I am. It was a touching moment for all of us, surely. The first step in that road to recovery, as far as I can tell, is a rushed and poorly written post about a mediocre workout I had last week.

But before I get too far out of the comfort zone of my other 4 readers by being so positive, I'll start out with a bad workout recap.

I had a decent Time on Feet run on Saturday, October 15 with Alec and a couple other folks that I was happy to get through painlessly and reasonably effortlessly. The next day I did 6 with Henry in the BOB, accompanied by Charlie and Thomas. I ran too fast. Monday morning, I also ran too fast. Tuesday, I took the day off for whatever reason, who knows. Then Wednesday arrived and it was time to workout. 2 x 2 miles on the track at some sort of pace that is faster than "current marathon pace." Current marathon pace right now is close to 6 minute pace (circa 2005). I think we agreed to try to run around 5:33 for the first set, then faster for the second. Hard to remember.

Matt was running behind with both kids awake, so Alec and I got started and he led us through the first mile around 5:33. I took the lead on the homestretch of lap 4 and slowed us down a bit, going through in 5:35. But it was way harder than it should have been, and I had a side stitch like a rookie. I knew I was dehydrated going in. 4-5 minutes of recovery later, and we went through a 5:31. I tried to take the lead this time on the back stretch of lap 5 and just couldn't get around Alec. I think I stayed on through 6 laps and then just cratered home, running 5:50. I couldn't even breath when I finished. ugh.

I took the next day off because apparently I don't run on Thursdays anymore. Friday, an easy 8. Saturday, big workout. 15 miles total (hardly even worth getting out of bed for) with 12 at marathon pace. At this point, I haven't run more than like, 2-3 miles at marathon pace successfully, that I'm aware of. At least if I did, it didn't make much of an impression on me. So I was particularly nervous about this workout and how much it would hurt. I had to buy a stupid headlamp because we were going to do it in the black hole that is Riverview and I didn't want to fall into the water after getting dropped and not being able to see anything. I wasn't too excited about it. (Don't worry Alec, things are going to get better soon! Hang in there!)

We had a big group show up though. Matt and Alec were there, obviously, and Stewart Sackson, Rachel and Sean! 6 people at Riverview at 4:45 in the morning... that's probably more people than show up at some of the RMR workouts! Stewart was doing 3k repeats, so he was just going to run most of the way, stop and wait for us to turn around, and then hop back on. I forget how many he had to do. Sean warmed up to join us and we all were ready to roll at 5am. Alec warned the fast people (Rachel and Sean) that it was going to take us a while to get into the 6-minute pace, just so they weren't too anxious.

Well the six of us started, all wearing our headlamps, running in the dark. We were a fluid pack, with Sean and Alec holding it down in front and the rest of us floating around behind them. It was probably the most fun I've had running in a year. There was some chatter, but for the most part we were quiet. No one was breathing hard, we were just doing the work we had to do. It started off well, with 6:07 first the first mile, feeling good. It was faster than I anticipated starting, but it wasn't really too surprising with the work horses we had in the group. Sean doesn't like to run slowly unless it's right before he drops out of a marathon (burn), and we had the pack mentality going for us. I was letting the GPS take care of the splits, and went 6:02, 6:06, 6:05, and 5:59 through 5 miles. Alec was taking real splits and got us at 30:04 through 5 miles, which was right around what I did in Lynchburg a month before. So if I could avoid blowing up, I'd be right on track to run faster than I did there, albeit it on a much easier course.

After that, it wasn't so much about holding on for dear life, but more just waiting for us all to take off. I started to feel guilty about how good I felt and about how easy we were running, but part of me still worried that I was going to implode at any moment. Splits were consistently under 6 minutes for the next two. Stew finished his workout and Rachel stopped to cool down with him, so the four of us left were just gliding along in the dark. I knew that the last two were going to be hot, so when we turned around at the end of the park, I did a manual split so I could see what we were really doing. When I took that split, my watch said 5:21 and I thought "well, I've been cutting off a lot of time." That's because my watch was usually splitting a bit after turning around.

At the turn, I tried to take the lead and share some of the work at the end, so that if I did die, I would do so gloriously. But Alec (yes, the very same one who looks up to me as the older brother he always wanted) just wouldn't give up the lead. That was fine, he could have it, so I just tucked back in right behind. Going across the bridge at the mile, I dropped back a little bit because of how narrow it is and I wanted to actually take/look at the split. Maybe it was the speed, maybe it was the leaves on the bridge, maybe it was the shock of reading 5:33 on my wrist... but I ran way off the path into the brush and almost wiped out. As I rebounded and got back onto the pavement, I called to Sean and Alec (now miles ahead of me it seemed) if that was accurate. Sean's "yep," may as well have been a lasso around me as I closed the gap instantly to rejoin them. That moment, cruising along, I thought to myself, "This is marathon race pace." Maybe again some day.

The last mile was a rush. Matt rightly dropped off, as the pace was ridiculous when he's targeting 6:20s in Richmond. Sean and Alec decided for some reason that we were going to go left along the river to finish up, which slowed us down a bit with tighter turns and more debris in the way. I knew we were moving but had no interest in looking at anything... just keep my head up and relax. As we approached the end of the line, I shut it down and jogged into the parking lot, splitting 5:22.

I'm sure I don't have to tell you how happy I was with this workout. It's what prompted me to start writing the last post that went out yesterday (a week late). It's what finally made me remember that I won't die when I run this marathon in two weeks. It's the first time I've felt good running longer and faster* in a very long time.

A week later, running 54 miles in 5 days, I'm still feeling good. My left calf is a little tight and I'm fairly confident I'm going to get a sinus infection within the next few days, but as long as I just keep drinking water and not getting hit by cars, I'll probably be able to run this marathon.

Racing season is here for the next 3 weeks:
Sunday, November 6 - Men's 4 Miler
Saturday, November 12 - Richmond Marathon
Saturday, November 17 - Kelly Watt 2 Mile

Then I shut it down, stay injury free, and start over in 2017. Is that upbeat enough for you, Alec?

*Still not very fast.

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