I started keeping this journal when the idea of running CIM came up on my radar. I knew I'd want to look back and remember what I was thinking leading up to the race. Ultimately it didn't work out, but that actually made the record-keeping potentially even more valuable for future reference.
Google reminded me last week (the day we got back from Europe) that today (August 15) is "16 Weeks to CIM." I'm not even sure when I put this in my calendar -
maybe sometime over the winter or spring?
Running vs Training/Racing? They can be very different things, and I can't seem to decide which path I want to pursue. Running enhances everything else that I do. Racing requires another level of focus and commitment. Sometimes that is great, but it can also take something away from other aspects of life.
It has been a solid 18 months since I've done any type of structured running. Chasing OTQs and PRs doesn't fire me up the way it once did. I have a great life as it stands... I'm somewhat afraid to do anything that could jeopardize what we have going right now. I've realized that I don't need to be fast in races to be very, very happy.
Every once in a while, however, I start to think about how it would feel to hammer to final miles of a marathon again. I think about how I'd like to prove to myself that I am still relevant as a competitive runner. I think about how I might strike the balance - keep the training fun and less structured - and still run fast. I have no interest in year-round training/racing... that takes away from skiing, which is such an important part of my life. Mid-December to mid-June is off-limits; I want to be sliding around the mountains on skis. But the late summer and fall seasons are ideal for more running. Andrea and I both want to chill out a bit... this year has been packed with major travel and major life events and major projects (all good stuff!)... shifting focus to running for a couple months until the snow starts falling again seems (in theory) like it could be a nice way to approach the last part of 2016.
Last week felt like a "real" week of training. We did 200m repeats on Wednesday (my first time running on the track in nearly two years), then a 5K race on Saturday and a Jeremy Ranch long run on Sunday. I'm starting to need 9 hours of sleep every night!
I applied for an entry to CIM last week, with a nudge of encouragement from Andrea. I haven't heard back from them yet.
I also decided to register for the TOU marathon, which is less that four weeks away. My goal there will simply be to see if I can handle running 2.5 hours at a good pace. I'd be thrilled to average ~6:00/mile pace. If I can do that, then I think that breaking 2:30 by CIM would be a very realistic goal.
I'm not going to get fancy with my training. Easy miles, weekend long run, and hopefully stay focused enough to do something short on the track every week (200m reps) while my legs adjust to quicker paces again. Essentially my plan is "have fun and wing it."
It was 98 degrees out on Wednesday afternoon and I was doing 200s on the track and at some point I realized it felt good to run fast(ish) again.
I registered for CIM today - they are super generous and gave me an elite spot, even though I haven't run a fast mark in almost two years. I guess this is a last chance of sorts!
I'm happy with my progress over the past couple weeks and I'm feeling pretty good right now. It helps that work is "normal" right now - I haven't had many days where I have needed to be in the office super-early or late. That helps, especially with sleep... where I have been racking up the hours. At some point work will get crazy again (guaranteed, like it or not) and that's when finding the appropriate work/life/run/sleep balance becomes so important.
The weather is about to cool off. I will actually miss the hot weather and 90-100 degree afternoons. I don't know exactly why, but I like running in the heat. I also like skiing in the cold (patience, Jake... don't get too far ahead of yourself!). Fall is good too. I actually like every season.
Too busy for anything but bullet points:
-12 weeks to CIM.
-4 days to TOU. Andrea's trip to Singapore was cancelled due to a Zika outbreak, so she'll be there - which decreases my chances of being stupid and running too hard.
-Improvement over last 5 weeks (post-Europe) has been better than I could have hoped.
-I've actually stuck to my plan of trying to get in some faster running every week!
-Labor Day trip to Zion was awesome. Craving more desert this fall.
-The screws are tightening at work...
-Weeks are flying by. I never even wrote up a proper TOU recap. Essentially I stuck to my plan - I would have finished if I was on ~2:35 pace or had a chance to win... but I was going faster and had nothing to gain by even jogging in for the last five miles, so dropping at 21 ended up being a great move. It allowed me to get right back to running.
-Right distal hamstring attachment was a little sore after the track workout on Saturday. Might be time to stop doing 200s?
-I go back and forth between thinking I can do something special (low 2:20s) and then at times think simply breaking 2:30 might be totally over-reaching.
-Enjoying the Jeremy Ranch long runs, and especially happy that Andrea is able to run 12-15 miles with me every week.
Aborted AM workout due to hamstring. Uh oh.
It doesn't seem like my hamstring wants to handle anything resembling the running I used to do (especially as it gets colder out and I can't get myself to care enough to do the prehab/rehab-type stuff)... but I can run an endless amount of enjoyable easy miles, so hopefully that's enough to break 2:30 (which has become my "A" goal).
Spoke too soon - hamstring has reverted to post-Chicago '14 levels. I shouldn't be running at all, but did last night and this morning (Andrea is in China and running helps me not get too lonely). Anyways, my leg has been getting worse with every mile. I'm going to take some time off from running. I think I'm just throwing in the towel on racing this year. I love being able to run every day and don't need to race, so if training for a race prevents me from being able to enjoy my running (ie. I'm hurting) and potentially keeps from doing other stuff, then logically it doesn't make sense to pursue racing anymore. I'm not necessarily talking about things like charity 5Ks and turkey trots, but the days of competitive marathons may be over. I just want to get up every morning and feel good when I head out for a run.
I've completely self-destructed over the past couple weeks. My motivation level for doing projects around the house (the kind with tools) has been exponentially higher than my motivation level for running more than two laps around the farm, which is really saying something!
In some ways this is a good thing (or will be eventually). Maybe I have finally learned my lesson. A brief history of the past two years...
Christmas 2014: "I'm still not fully recovered from Chicago, so I'm taking the spring off from racing."
A week or two later I got into London and decided to go. Training went OK for a bit and then...
Spring 2015: Pre-London implosion and subsequent downward spiral...
"I'll be back to normal by the summer and take another shot at a marathon this Fall"
Summer 2015: Not back to normal. Got bummed out again and downward spiraled because I felt like I failed at the marathon (again) (before I could even start training this time).
Fall 2015 / Winter-Spring-Summer 2016: Forgot about racing altogether and actually got fairly fit by just running for fun. Most importantly - I was VERY HEALTHY!!! I can't think of one time in this roughly twelve month period where my hamstring (or anything else) gave me issues.
Fall 2016: Talked myself into running CIM, despite being on the fence about it. It went perfectly fine for a bit and then...
October implosion and subsequent downward spiral (pattern developing?)
A year ago I found myself on the fence, but figured I would just naturally gravitate back towards (some scaled-back version of) regular racing. Now, I really don't think its happening at any time in the foreseeable future. And I'm honestly fine with that. I'd probably even say relieved at this point. I had a great stretch from 2011-2014, and 1:06/2:21 are personal bests that I'm very proud of. I had dozens of good races and lots of experiences that I wouldn't trade... but at the same time, I don't have the desire to chase those experiences again. I'm content with what I have accomplished. If there's anything I feel like I left on the table, it is obviously breaking 2:20 for the marathon. But I'm so far away from running at that level again, and I know what it takes to be in that universe, so it simply isn't something I see myself going after again. When faced with so many open doors to good opportunities in front of me, there's not much to gain by banging my head against one behind me.
I already withdrew from CIM and I'll let Saucony know this week that my spot on the team is up for grabs in the upcoming year. I probably should have given up my spot at the end of 2015 (there are certainly athletes that deserved the opportunity more than I did), but part of me thought maybe there was a bit of magic left (Saucony did, too - that's why they gave me another chance)... and if there was anything that motivated me to run one more fast marathon, it was that I felt like I owed it to them for all of their support over the years. I know I'll miss being a part of that family, but its time for someone new to take advantage of the opportunity. Its not like my loyalty will shift... $1000 cash to the first person that catches me running in a pair of non-Saucony shoes (trust me, it won't ever happen!).
So that's that. It can start snowing now.
Reading back through this journal has been valuable. Even though I haven't raced much the past two years, I guess I kept thinking I should or would, and that created self-imposed pressure which contributed to falling apart several times. While I don't want to shut the door completely (bold proclamations about recreational endeavors are silly at best), I'm going to approach 2017 with the idea that I'm not racing at all (other than Dash for Donation, of course). As I wrote on August 15th, running enhances everything else that I do... and there are a lot of things other than racing that I want to do.
None of this really needs explanation, but I have received a lot of support from this blog over the years, so I feel like explaining myself and "closing the loop" was appropriate.