That would be me, not the band.
For the time being I've accepted my status as more of a tortoise than a hare. Not that I was ever super-fast to begin with, but there once was a time when I could run a 7:30 mile and not think too much of it. In fact, it felt casual and carefree. Why, just a year ago I ran a half marathon at an average pace of 7:51 per mile.
Not so much at the moment. Since the beginning of the hamstring debacle in the middle of August, my runs have been more about survival than speed. Too many days off have taken their toll.
The Grand Rapids Half Marathon is this coming Sunday. I was supposed to be staring down another Boston qualifying attempt in the marathon, and instead I will be lining up with my dad and the Redhead and hoping to maintain a 9:30 pace for 13.1 miles. Not that running with my dad, the Redhead (and possibly my sweetie, the Engineer) is that distasteful a prospect. I am sure I will enjoy myself no matter what. Any day running is better than a day without.
On October 3 I ran the Big House Big Heart 5K for the fourth time. This is a race I never miss. The thrill of running into Michigan Stadium has yet to lose its luster. Last year I ran the race in 23:46. This year I eked out a 27:24. After a crowd-clogged first mile (9:21) I was able to open up and run an 8:31 mile 2...and then my hamstring decided to revolt again. I was so mad. I had been running steadily and without pain for weeks, and now this. I limped my way through an 8:49 mile 3 to the finish.
It was not the outcome I had hoped for. Fine. Get over it and move on. The half marathon is waiting, and after that, the Thunder Road Marathon in December. Once that race is done with, I am going to back off goal-oriented training. I have been training for once major race or another for three years, and I'm tired of it. I just want to get up in the morning and run whatever distance I feel like, not something that's prescribed on a spreadsheet. I want to be able to run only three miles instead of a scheduled five and not feel guilty. I want to be able to blow off a run here and there because it's pouring rain when I wake up and not beat myself up about it. I need more cross-training and strength training.
The past two years were amazing in terms of my growth and improvement as a runner. I knew the upward trajectory could not last forever. Eventually I was going to crest the hill, reach the apex, the apogee, and begin to descend. I seem to be on a downside at the moment. I hope to pull myself out of this valley. I realize that the sub-22:00 5K, the 3:30 marathon may be beyond my ability. That's okay. I just want running to be fun again.
I may be slow, but I'm working on it.