Where goals are concerned

I head to Indianapolis tomorrow to run a half marathon on Saturday. It’s thrilling stuff, these moments beforehand; you continue to ponder the question, “13 miles, really? I mean ten miles is nice, too. Just raced a 10k, which was over fairly quickly. Hmm.”

As of a handful of weeks ago, the Monumental Half was supposed to be the fall effort that training was geared towards. I just wasn’t feeling it, wasn’t clicking. Wasn’t really pleased with how I felt racing, so I barely did such this summer. Couldn’t hit the paces laid out by the initial plan I selected due to a combo of summer warmth and not feeling fit enough, which started to be more self-defeating than I really cared for out of something that is supposed to be enjoyable.

Instead of plodding along, I stopped to sincerely assess where I was at, gave myself a chance to really think about what I wanted to get out of this fall after a lachrymose winter/spring and stagnant-state summer. I wanted to feel fast and actually be slightly such. That was the goal that would make me happy.

So I picked a plan that on paper felt like a more reasonable challenge to build with, and gave myself some padding with the end race not being this weekend, but the Schaumburg Half on November 29. 

My updates fell off the radar by virtue of a lack of internet connectivity one week, followed by a week of feeling sickly. But as this week marks eight of 12, I guess I can take a stab at self-assessment and how that relates to 13 miles in the Circle City.

If I had to grade myself, solid B. Easy runs are done easy, and I feel odd if I don’t get a few miles in…but I also have taken advantage of my rowing machine on cold rainy mornings or, as I did yesterday, when my foot was just feeling tight and old.

Long runs have been pretty solid overall, which is different, highlighted by an easy 90-minute effort a few weeks back with no water or fuel in me.  I’ve gone out to Waterfall Glen a few times for uninterrupted 13-mile efforts with some undulation to build up some strength and see pretty things.  I’m actually running, not shuffling and it feels pretty good.  This last weekend I was still feeling under the weather, but stayed pretty steady in my pacing (kinda) and finished feeling refreshed.

Biggest component has been the addition of focused speed work, in comparison to doing improvised fartlek stuff when I felt like it. Tempo efforts, especially those done in the dark before work, have been perceived-effort based, which has been a bit hit or miss, but such combined with a trek to the track have really reenergized things. I get down to business.  I feel focused, doing laps alone.

I get irritated by sluggish walkers or very young people playing 4-on-5 football on the sliver of field that is barely lit and such not comprehending that should a pass fall incomplete and wobble into the first or second lane of the track, I will fully run through you should you blindly step in my path. We played Red Rover in my day, kiddo. My elbows be POINTY, my spite shall come at you like a goddamn truck. 

Sorry, that tangent needed to be shared.

Missed two speed sessions, one on account of feeling fluish and another as I wasn’t quite sure what was transpiring in my foot region a few weeks back when it felt like I had a bone bruise for a few days. To be fair, I never really know what is going on, given that I presently type away with a sandwich baggie with ice resting on my left foot. The uncomfortable sensation is similar to the tendonitis fun-stuff of my spring that appeared in my right foot. Or perhaps I’m on the cusp of splitting apart, waking up one morning with a detached piece or three below the knee. It’s fine, I think. Podiatrists are questionable, anyway.

So, what of this weekend? I didn’t feel solid at the start of September, but very out of sorts for me as apparent in these previous three paragraphs is the presence of confidence. Speed does that. Feeling in command on longer efforts helps, too. My races have been smarter (or maybe even more stupid and I grow increasingly oblivious in my advancing years) and I like where that puts me heading into these final few weeks. But I do have a few more weeks. Saturday isn’t the end point, but I still want to do something solid and have a strong race result to my name come the finish line.

I think I’m really close to being able to put forth an effort where I would be satisfied, time-wise. I got the wheels and my stamina feels good, and I haven’t had a solid balance between the two in probably ever. Sub 90 minutes for 13.1 miles does not feel that far out of reach. 

This is what I get for purchasing sleeves last week in an effort to look super spiffy sleek when running in my singlet, so much for that dreamy notion of 40s and idyllic fall weather. I’m not terribly thrilled by the presence of cold temps (such is the world of a pre-dawn 8a race start prediction of FEELS LIKE 16, scrunched face) with the wind, but I think such will provide me an advantage of trying a different strategy. Stratagem? Never get a chance to use that word, so sure.  

Go out slower than I think is prudent as I have a tried and true mental deficiency of just gunning it from the gun, stick with a pacer group (they only have pacers set up for the concurrently-run marathon, and the course splits around mile 7) and see what I can do for the final six-ish miles. 

Under 92 minutes is what I'm aiming for heading in from the comforts of Chicago, but if it isn't in the cards, it isn't the day for it. I have another opportunity looming not too far off tryptophan lane after Thanksgiving. But I don't care to go in with an excuse of a tight foot or little cough. Driving up north on I-65 knowing I ran intelligently aggressive will leave me feeling pleased. 

My nails are gunmetal. I need to do a small load of laundry. Glad I unpacked my winter gear last weekend. I'm ready. Let's see what I got.

I would like to conclude by severely thanking my February self for not registering for the marathon when the world kinda felt as bleak and hopeless as running 26 miles sounds. That is so far, and a much different goal.