On Saturday afternoon, after getting the refrigerator working again and half fixing a half-broken washing machine, I finally got out for a run. The temperatures were in the low 40′s but the 20 to 40 mph winds were making it feel much, much colder. Over the course of 8 miles I felt like I was running into the wind almost the whole time, which was quite a feat considering I was running an out & back route.
My plan was that I really didn’t have one. A few weeks ago I decided that I was simply going to run miles when I could before beginning a 12-week program for Sugarloaf. This past Monday was the beginning of that program.
As I started my run, I thought of Sugarloaf and what it would take to re-qualify for Boston.
A sub-3:15 marathon – sub-7:25 per mile pace…for 26.2 miles. I haven’t run that pace consistently in so long…how the hell am I going to do this…
As I ran past 1 mile, I looked down at my watch – hmmm…7:34 - that’s not so bad - I kept moving at a pace that felt comfortable, focusing on my form, not really paying attention to pace. I looked at my watch as I passed mile 2 - 7:30.
I decided to have some fun and push the pace a little, just to see what I had in my legs.
Miles 3 and 4 went by in a snappy 7:18 and 7:29. Somewhere before reaching the turn around I started to tire. As good as it felt to be running sub-7:30′s, I didn’t feel particularly strong. I thought about the fact that at Sugarloaf, I would have to run faster than this for over 6 times the distance.
I began to reevaluate the very idea of attempting a BQ and a 5-minute PR in May. Was I crazy? Was I fooling myself? At this point I just wanted to jog it back home at a slow pace and mope.
For no apparent reason I decided to push the pace for 2 more miles. I wasn’t sure what I had in me, but I figured let’s just run this one out.
I looked at my watch at mile 5 – 7:16. My fastest mile of the day. Mile 6 came even faster at 7:06. At this point however, I felt spent. I was happy I was able to close strong, but a bit disheartened that I felt so tired.
2 miles from home, it was time to jog it in. I covered the next 1/2 mile at 8:30 pace – a comfortable pace for me. I started to relax and felt my breath coming back to me.
My mind drifted. I let my body just roll along. My watch beeped at the next 1/2 mile interval – 3:37.
3:37? That’s 7:14 pace!
I went with it – trying not to exert too much, just letting gravity and momentum do their job – next 1/2 mile? 3:32 (7:04 pace).
As I made the final turns for home I felt a burst of energy run through me and decided I needed to finish this run strong (despite the fact that the last 1/2 mile is uphill).
I covered the last 1/2 mile at 6:58 pace and felt great – spent, but great.
Suddenly Sugarloaf didn’t feel so daunting anymore. Suddenly I remembered that I just might have it in me to hit my BQ, despite the fact that I will need a nearly 5-minute PR. Suddenly, the spark was back.
Now all I needed was a plan…