Ready or Not…


Tomorrow I’m running the Frozen Buns 10k.  Suffice it to say that I haven’t done much training for the frozen-buns aspect of the race.  Actually, I haven’t done that much 10k-specific training, either.  A lot of my running lately has been speedwork in the 3-4 mile range on the treadmill.

Sub 20 degree weather = more time spent on the ‘mill than the road = shorter runs because I have little treadmill patience. Last year I was running up to 20 miles on the treadmill, but I also think that marathon training causes temporary loss of sanity.

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Ah, well.  With one day to go, I can’t really do any more to prepare.  I feel fit, and I feel strong.  My runs, while shorter, are also much faster than while I was marathon training.  I’ve picked up the pace by over a minute, and I sometimes drop below 8 minutes, which never used to be my thing.  It’s fun to switch back and forth from long+slow to short+fast (TWSS) and to know that I can do both. 

Yesterday was packet pickup, so I decided to run the race course.

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When I first checked out the elevation map, I didn’t think it looked too bad.  Nice big downward slope at the end, right?  Yeah, whatever.  The part I glossed over was the big hill right.at.the.start, followed by the seemingly small but mountainous climb shortly thereafter.  Also, what I thought was a big downhill also includes a continuous stream of smaller hills. 

I took off fast yesterday, finishing the first mile in 7:03 (I don’t know how, but I’ll take it), and ran mile 2 in 7:33.  But after that, I averaged 8:35 throughout the rest of the run. Even though I powered up the hills in full beast mode, they caught up to me eventually. 

This should be a pretty challenging race.

As I ran, I thought about the actual race, past races, and the runner I hope to become.  An old marathon training playlist boomed in my ears, and I felt at home again – just like last fall, when it was just the ground and my feet and me for hours. And though I’ve logged more miles than some Americans log hours in front of the TV,  it struck me that, no matter how experienced you are, running can always make you feel like a beginner.  Sure, it becomes natural.  Liberating.  Comfortingly routine. But there comes a point during almost every run when you wonder, “Can I do this?” And no matter how much you know you’ve done it – and more – before, running still feels new. 

I imagine it’s how toddlers feel when they learn how to walk: there is a dual anticipation of success and total failure. And it’s what makes me love racing.  There is no guarantee that the race will go well, that you’ll PR, or that you’ll even finish, for that matter. It’s such a thrill, especially during a race, when you know everyone else is thinking the same thing.

And then the run is over, and you wonder how you ever could have doubted yourself.

I ended up finishing my training run 10 seconds faster than my 10k PR (which I set on a totally flat course), and almost 2 minutes faster than the last 10k I raced.  I don’t want to get too confident, but it looks like I might be able to snag a new PR tomorrow!

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