Saturday: I sacrificed sleeping in and lounging around in my pajamas drinking coffee and reading the paper to drive 40 minutes to Kensington Metropark to run 20 miles. Wait a minute...every Saturday is like that (minus the driving) and has been since June. *sob*
I jest. Really! I was up cheerfully at 6:30 and on the road before 7:00, pulling into Kensington around 7:40 to check in with the RF501 person on-site. The place was swarming with people who were there to run the Kensington Challenge. I was there to pound through 20 miles. I did the run totally by myself; there were a lot of fellow runners on the path but I wasn't running with anyone. I passed people, was passed by people, crossed paths with the Kensington Challenge field (twice; I saw the leaders up close and personal around mile 13 due to course overlap-- the second-place male zoomed past me and said, "Great job, looking good" and I said, "Thanks-- you too!"). The weather was amenable (about 60 degrees at the start, overcast) and the scenery pleasant. I can't argue with woods, water, and birds including a group of four sandhill cranes which were foraging right next to the path. I stopped to watch them for a minute. I was about 3 meters away from them. It was crazy! I love birds.
I felt good. Really good, in fact. So good that I finished my run in 2 hours 52 minutes which was a 6-minute overall and 20 seconds-per-mile pace improvement over my 20-mile run three weeks ago. I averaged 8:38/mile for the duration.
Stop right there.
If you recall a few weeks ago I posted this. I was only off that pace by one second the other day.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I have to push through an additional 10K. The truth is I felt extremely good on Saturday. I definitely had enough zest to keep going. If I start a little bit quicker...try to sustain an 8:40-8:45 pace for the first half and then take it up a notch for the second half and get down to around 8:25-8:30...
That little voice in my head is getting louder and louder. It's driving me MAD, I tell you. I KNOW, I KNOW, I should be thinking, "Shut the hell up about Boston! Just concentrate on finishing! It's your first marathon! You should not be thinking about qualifying for Boston!" I do think that, actually. I did it on Saturday while I was running and realized I had done two 8:26 miles in a row (miles 17 and 18). Shut up about Boston. Shut up about Boston. SHUT UP ABOUT BOSTON!
But...you know...if I'm physically capable of running at the required pace, which I appear to be...THEN WHY NOT? Why not give it my all? Why not go for glory? If I crash and burn, I can at least say "I tried my best" and move on, looking ahead to a future race and another chance. I will be driven more insane by an aftermath of "if onlys..." and wondering what could have been if I had really made the effort. Thus, I have decided:
BQ or bust, baby! I'M GOING FOR IT!
Now you all can tell me I'm completely nuts.
Sunday: I was in Ann Arbor for the second annual Big House Big Heart 5K. A warmup jog quickly made me realize this wasn't going to be a day for breaking personal records. I was rather creaky from the previous day's long run. Add to that an unorganized field of thousands and my unfortunate position trapped way at the back and I really wasn't going to be setting any records. I decided to use the race as an easy recovery run and just enjoy myself. 3 miles feels like a fleeting wisp of nothing these days, you know? So that's what I did. I moseyed through the first mile in about 8:54 and by then I had worked my way past most of the walkers and slower-paced people. I was able to open up my stride and cruised easily through the final 2 miles of the race. Unlike last year when I was working really hard over the final half mile and could barely enjoy the trip through the tunnel into the stadium and then the final 50 meters on the playing surface, this time around I ambled into the bright sunlight (or should I say "ran into the sun," LOL) at the end of the tunnel and gazed around at the splendor of the Big House. I was treading the same sacred ground on which struggling Michigan (no snark; they're REBUILDING this year!) had pulled off an unbelievable comeback and massive upset of 9th-ranked Wisconsin the previous day! I kicked into high gear for the final 50 meters and finished in 27:06. The scene at the finish was total chaos as thousands of runners were funneled into a tiny choke point at the apex of two angled lines of water tables. TERRIBLE PLANNING! I shuffled along with the rest of the crowd, grabbed a water, a banana, and some oatmeal cookies, bumped into someone from my training group (unbelievable coincidence given the swarming melée of people) and then split to go meet up with a friend.
It was a good weekend. Quality running, quality recovery napping with tabby cat (Saturday afternoon), quality beer (Celis Grand Cru, Celis White) on Sunday evening ending a three-day hiatus from all adult beverages (due to the unholy trinity of warm weather, an old friend, and a bottle of Maker's Mark last Thursday).
Oh, and by the way: IT'S TAPER TIME!