Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Character

I put in 8.5 easy miles yesterday morning, then met up with the Workout Group for another 5.5 or so in the evening with daughter Haiden in tow. We hit the big city pool in town after she finished school, which is mercifully covered by a giant sun-shade, then I took her out for pizza before joining the group at 6pm. She got some time in the center of the stretching circle before the run, which of course thrilled her. Unlike here dad, she loves to be the center of attention. It was fun wheeling her through the park in the jogging stroller while talking and running with runners from the group.

Today looks to be about the same as yesterday, with 10 easy miles this morning and an easy 10K run with the Running Shop gang this evening. The coach mentioned that during the four days between the race and my back to back workouts this weekend that more miles were fine, as long as they are at an easy pace. Running with friends makes this easier.

As far as me making peace with my effort for the race on Monday, I want to be clear that I'm not so much disappointed with the result as I am with how I executed the race. Any race can offer a "dare to be great situation". When the miles slowly unwind you, and you're left half-way through the course stripped down to your essence, what is it going to be? Do you start feeling sorry for yourself, hold your place and try to conserve enough to not totally fall apart before the finish? Do you bargain with yourself, and try to justify the slowing pace by placing the blame on workouts leading up to the race? Or instead, do you squint hard and draw your focus to the singlet disappearing up the road, making it the only thing that matters at that moment? Draw the knees up just a few millimeters more, push forward off the forefeet, and be the runner you imagine you are (or wish you could be). The race eventually ends, regardless of how great or terrible we feel. And while it doesn't mean anything, for a few moments it can mean EVERYTHING.

It's often said that our fastest races feel almost effortless. I've had those kind of good days, and I've enjoyed them thoroughly. Still, it's been during those few races where I've managed to turn a rough patch, a bad race, or simply someone trying to hand it to me in the late stages of the struggle on its head that I've been the most proud of my running. I certainly had that opportunity on Monday, and I simply didn't make the most of it. There will be other days.

Training: Today, 10 miles, 1:12:16, 7:14 pace
Yesterday: am., 8.5 miles, 1:01:13, 7:12 pace
pm., 5.5 miles, around 7:30 pace

6 comments:

Chad in the Arizona Desert said...

That was very well said. I think all runners who race, no matter what pace, have those inner battles of will. Sometimes we succeed against them, sometimes we don't...but every once in a while we elevate our effort beyond what we ever thought possible. It's those moments that show us what is really possible and keep us coming back for more.

Eric said...

Well spoken, sir.

I'm going to try to have one of those races this weekend. A dare to be great, brutal, painful, glorious run.

Thanks for the reminder!

Thomas said...

There will be other days indeed; well said.

Like Eric, I'll try and have one those on Sunday, albeit considerably slower than either of you.

Marc said...

Very eloquent.

Mike said...

Thanks guys. Eric and Thomas, you both seem to be in pretty damn good positions to have the kind of race I'm talking about. Ultimately, how the meal turns out has more to do with what you bring to the table than anything.

Sempre Libera said...

I think you've nailed all the important questions we ask ourselves during/after a particularly tough race. Still, that PR is nothing to sneeze at and you should indeed hold your head high for that other day.