Friday, January 26, 2007

Expectations

The sad but obvious truth is that it's nearly impossible for me to improve my time each year for each race I do. That being said, through some luck, accumulated fitness and good coaching I've managed to do just that in the 5K, 8K, 10K, 10 mile, half marathon and marathon over the past 12 months. All but the marathon bests were on the same courses run for my last best marks, so for comparison's sake this model works. Certainly having soft marks at most of these distances helped, but I've taken a certain amount of pride in the fact that each time I took the line over the past year, with the exception of the marathon in June I've showed up with greater fitness than at that same time the year prior.

Until now. The one-two punch of trying to come back too soon after my December marathon and the additional setback of getting sick last week have put me in unfamiliar territory. A progression run earlier in the week showed that I started to go anaerobic around 6 minute pace, which was a bad sign as far as my race fitness goes. The 8x150-200 accelerations I did yesterday didn't do much to ease my mind either, as I felt pretty clunky while getting up to full speed. Once there, I just didn't feel very fast or relaxed.

With all this in mind, my original goal of going between 33:30 and 34:00 for the race this weekend seems a bit out of reach. Last year I averaged 5:30 pace for a 34:11, which I somehow ran two weeks after the Phoenix marathon. While I know I can hold my original pace plan of 5:23-5:28 for 5K, I'm worried at this point about what will happen during the second half of the race. Going for it early could certainly lead to a meltdown, but not racing aggressively just isn't my style and could put me at a mental disadvantage early. The coach guesses my fitness as closer to 34:30 at this point, and the data certainly supports this. However, going out at this pace and watching runners I consider near my ability slowly get further and further up the road would be difficult.

The wildcard is my ability to suffer. Through running enough races I will give myself some credit in this department. I don't mind hurting, especially if I can sense similar suffering in the runners I'm trying to beat. In many other situations I would easily consider myself a coward, but during the last 1/3 of a race, when I can feel my body burning, I know deep down that I can swing the handle on the faucet spewing the scalding water and turn it off as soon as I cross the line. It's one more reason to speed up before allowing yourself to slow down.

I'm glad I still have some time to decide on how to take things out come Sunday morning.

Training: Today, 8 miles, 55:40, 6:59 pace
Yesterday, 8 miles, 53:43, 6:45 pace, w/8x150-200 accelerations
Wednesday pm., 6.2 miles, 43:20, 7:00 pace

4 comments:

Lawrence said...

"I know deep down that I can swing the handle on the faucet spewing the scalding water and turn it off as soon as I cross the line. It's one more reason to speed up before allowing yourself to slow down."

Great line.......

tb1 said...

I love it Mike. It's not your fitness, it's between the ears. Go get it. Pre lives.

Thomas said...

Soft targets. Yeah, right. You sure are modest, but think about how it makes the mere mortals amongst us feel.

If what they say is true, that humility is part of a true champion, then you're a champion indeed.

Michael said...

Good luck this weekend, I'll be thinking of you as I toe the line as well. I have no idea of the where I'm at either (but looking forward to finding out), at least hope to go under 35' (it isn't a very fast course).