I’m doing a half marathon at Duke City, now just two weeks away. This will be a group affair: my wife, who walks, and her walking buddy will be doing it as will my oldest daughter. It feels like a group effort even though we may not see each other after the start. Just knowing they are out there somewhere means I’m not doing it alone. You may well ask how one could feel alone when in the midst of all those thousands of people, and I can’t answer except to say that you can.
I’m still serious about how I perform despite being as slow as I have become. I’m not going to win. I probably won’t even win my age group, although I’ll come a lot closer, but my time and performance are still important. So, like most serious runners, I have a training schedule that I am trying to follow. It’s like most such schedules: shorter runs during the week; longer runs on the weekend; background runs a few months ago; more speed oriented more recently; extensions to longer mileage on the weekends. Pretty standard.
One of the things the running mags and books don’t talk about much is what to do when the plan doesn’t work. Last Saturday, I went out to run 18km (16km=10mi, so 18 is 11.25). I had had a flu shot on Friday, but felt no after effects and I expected no problems. I had been extending 2km each week (I’ve omitted mention of rest weeks, but I do know about them), and my experience was pretty uniform: the additional 2km felt pretty bad, but the next week it was fine. Last week’s run didn’t work that way. At the beginning, I felt good. By 8km (5mi) I was minutes ahead of schedule. I was still well ahead at 9km, the turn around point. By 14km I was right on schedule. By 15, I was out of gas and could not continue running. Walking back to where I started was a major disappointment. I took that failure badly, and it took much of the week to get over it.
What do you do to recover from a failure like that? How do you get back on track? My approach to that is to repeat the week. The previous week wasn’t completely lost. I did cover the distance, just not as fast as I had hoped. So, I did it again this week. Busy and stressful week at work, and I missed one of the mid-week runs. But, this morning I felt good. Back down by the river because it’s the first weekend of Balloon Fiesta and they usually fly along the river–500 balloons in the air at once is quite a sight. Unfortunately, they go where the wind takes them, and today the wind took them elsewhere, so no low flying balloons overhead. Much of the run was like last week. At 9km I was way ahead of schedule. By 14km I was right on time, having slowed down and burned through those minutes I had banked in the early going. But, this time I didn’t run out of gas at 15 and successfully finished the planned 18km. I’m still unhappy about last week’s failure, but this week’s success has improved my mood. On to the race.