I forgot this today. I got too wrapped up in fatigue and humidity and stagnant air and how difficult my goal race pace for next weekend felt. Anxiety sat heavily on my chest. Self-doubt creeped in. I finished feeling defeated instead of exhilarated.
I guess some runs are like that. But not when we run grateful.
When we run grateful, we appreciate the scenery and the time spent outdoors. We appreciate the company of the other runners joining us. We appreciate the legs strong enough to carry us eight miles. We appreciate our good health, our injury-free bodies. We appreciate the loved ones who got the children up and dressed for soccer and to the soccer field on time, so we could get in our run and meet them there at the last minute. We remember others who would LOVE to be in our shoes running at that very moment, but who, for whatever reason, cannot. I hate that I forgot that today.
My goal race is next weekend, the Murfreesboro Middle Half. I have been trying to improve my half-marathon time for two years. I shaved it down to 2:05, but stalled there. I really want to run a sub-2-hour half marathon. We all have our goals, and that one is mine. I have worked so hard since July 1 to make this happen. I haven not missed a single mile on my training plan. I have hit 85% of the splits I've been assigned by my coach, to whom I've paid money for four months. It feels like there is a lot riding on this race. Now, I just have to trust the training, trust the coach, and have faith in myself.
I didn't start today's run ungrateful. I was running one of my absolute favorite routes. I actually had a nice time chatting with the other runners before the run and enjoyed the first couple of miles crunching newly fallen leaves and clearing spiderwebs on a paved rail trail through the woods. In the third mile, I was supposed to drop to half-marathon goal pace for two miles. I was hoping it would just feel natural to run this pace I've been practicing. (9:09 equals a 2:00 hour half, so I need 9:08 or better, technically.) I ran them in 8:59 and 8:56. But, WOW, I had to work for them. A tough speed workout on Wednesday and a hilly one on Thursday had left my legs tired, dead, and achy. In hindsight, I hadn't really hydrated as well as I could have these last couple of days, and it is possible I had too few carbs. Whatever it was (whatever excuse fits??), it was discouraging. All I could think of was, "Am I going to have to FIGHT for every single mile next Saturday to stay on pace? Do I even have it in me to fight for 13 miles??"
After mile four, I ran easy for a couple of miles, but I felt really unmotivated to keep running. You know that saying that "Running is 90% mental?" It is very possible that it is. I ran/walked mile 5. At one point at 5.5, I stopped to chat at length with another runner who was also having a bad day. We were feeling equally defeated, I'd say, and neither of us was in any hurry to start running again.
I finally made it through my two easy miles, then I was supposed to alternate 1/2 mile hard and 1/2 mile easy. In that 1/2 mile hard, I struggled to get to the low 9's. I finally finished that segment at 9:08 pace, barely within my half-marathon goal pace. I walked most of the next half mile (technically cheating), then ran that last hard 1/2 mile. Once again, the legs felt dead, and the mind felt defeated, but I got that segment in at about a 9:06 pace.
I'm hoping I can chalk it up to a bad day. It's better to have a bad day today than next weekend! My coach assures me I can run the half in under two hours, maybe even in the 1:56 range. I think I have to change my mindset as much as anything. I've run about 15 half-marathons, but I've run most of them "comfortably hard" (emphasis on the comfortably). I did get fairly uncomfortable in the last 3-4 miles of my PR one about a year ago. However, I'm looking at being uncomfortable pretty much all 13 of them this time.
Must be why they call it a race. Good to know. :-)