I woke up feeling pretty stir-crazy this morning and realized I haven’t done really any socializing in like two weeks. Besides work, running, and that frustrating trip down to southern Virginia for a traffic ticket only to come back with another traffic ticket, I really don’t get out of the house much. I went on a hike last weekend and played kickball a few days before, but this week both my kickball match and this morning’s hike were cancelled. Part of not going out much is lack of money, but the other part is the dog days of summer making me feel kinda lazy.
I actually can’t even focus much on reading right now. For some reason my attention span has really tanked. Oh I read, it’s just mainly blogs and scanning news articles. I was reading voraciously before Yale, but ever since the move, I’m not sure what it is. I literally sleep right next to my bookcase – and yet the focus just isn’t there. I think it’s because when I came back I started on The Publisher, the biography of Henry Luce, but at Yale we’d done so much work on short stories that it totally betrayed where my attention span was. Not only was it long, but it was non-fiction, where I was used to doing so much work on strengthening short fiction pieces.
I tried starting this last night when I was having trouble falling asleep, but I barely finished the introduction. I blame the author’s snobbish tone toward the seemingly unexplainable – yes, everything probably can be explained by science, but some of us like a little mystery and magic.
Anyhow, after yesterday’s run I was feeling a mixture of a few things: 1) totally doubtful I’ll even come close to finishing the Army Ten Miler in October, 2) completely incredulous at myself for every signing up for the ATM in the first place, 3) kind of proud of myself for starting running in January and having the balls to sign up for the ATM, 4) discouraged at both my speed and fitness level, 5) desperately trying to remind myself I didn’t start this to be some epic elite athlete and nobody expects me to become one, 6) most of all, anxious to get my 10K trainer app on the road and get past the training day I attempted yesterday, which was simply a brisk 5 minute warm-up walk and then run for 30 minutes without stopping to walk. I just wanted to be past it and done and over with so I can move on to the ten minute intervals that start in the next week and start upping my mileage.
I also didn’t want to wuss out and run my usual tried and true trail that I can run with my eyes closed and know exactly when the downhill part starts and how much further the uphill is and exactly how much mileage I’ll get in when I reach 15 minutes of running (I don’t have a Garmin and I don’t trust the average pace calculator on Endomondo). I wanted to try the route I tried for the first time yesterday and do it.
So I knew the only way I’d do it was to run slowly. I can focus on upping my speed during the interval weeks. But today was all about endurance.
Maybe I’m taking it too easy on myself by running slowly but all I know is, I haven’t injured anything. I don’t have knee pain, or ankle pain, or back pain, or any joint pain I commonly hear runners are downed by. I sometimes do track workouts where I sprint 100 meters, walk 100 meters, and repeat several times, but more than being fast and finishing fast or ever winning some sort of award, I care more about longevity and not hurting myself. So if I stay at a 12-minute mile forever if that’s what it takes to avoid injury, I’ll do it. But I’m hoping with enough interval training I’ll get that average down eventually.
All that said, I did it! Yesterday’s post I said I doubted I’d be able to get this training day out of the way before Tuesday. But when I felt cabin fever today I went out to Sports Authority just to browse at all the fun runner apparel I wished I had the money to buy, and imagined myself wearing on race days to look cute in photos, and I got more and more anxious to be race-day ready.
Coming home, I decided I was going to try the 30-minute run again. I searched for a motivation I could cling to while running, because yesterday’s mental admonitions really hadn’t worked. Outwardly I announced, to my mother for accountability, that I would not allow myself to watch this week’s episode of “True Blood” until I had completed this training day. Inwardly, I promised myself that if I did it tonight, I’d save my money and buy myself the cute little black and neon green Under Armour outfit I’d put together at Sports Authority and then put back on the rack to wear for the ATM.
But when I got out there, the main thing that kept me going was just plain old damn impatience with this damn lesson. Every time I thought “oh Jesus I still have 22 minutes left?” what kicked in stronger was “I do NOT want to have to wait another day to start on week 9!”
I guess my impatience is my biggest strength?
Oh, and sadly, a little before I hit 2 miles, my Sports Alerts popped up on my phone to let me know the O’s were losing 5-0. Somehow, in the triumph of my brain that knew I was doing better than yesterday’s attempt, I felt confident that magically, if I survived this run, the O’s would win.
Well, obviously that’s not the way baseball works, but it got me through the last bit of the second mile.
Tomorrow I’m planning some cross-training so as to rest the old hamstrings and quads, but I’m antsy to start going longer distances! I think it’s pretty clear I’ll be going into the ATM with a structured run/walk plan. All I care about is finishing. Maybe by next year’s ATM I can attempt to run it in 90 minutes or something, but this year, if I have to be last damn place to get that finisher’s coin, I’ll be last place, but damn it I will crawl the ten miles if I have to.