Over the past few weeks, sapphic runner land has been a pretty fatiguing and tiring place. The buildup of miles in the long runs, longer mid week runs in addition to some pretty intense speed workouts left me with little left to give. Dog tired (e-dawg tired, heh). These lows are a part of marathon training and even though I logically know they happen, they somehow always take me by surprise. Why is my temper suddenly short? The crankiness dialed up to the highest degree? It's not hard to figure out they whys with a quick glance at the training log.
So, according to our illustrious (and quite wise) training plan, we cut our mileage, I skipped my speed workout and took a few days off of work to just relax. It worked.
Saturday I approached Just a Short Run, a half-marathon and my last competitive event before the Pittsburgh Marathon with renewed energy. Last year we skipped this event, focusing on getting in a longer run. This year my goal was to run the best possible race a could, with an emphasis on the best, quality mileage I could achieve.
The day was chilly, clear, and bright -- wonderful weather for a run. I approached the starting line with my usual amount of excitement and anxiety -- happy for pace groups that ensured a smooth start. Bobbing and weaving my way to decent pace is not my idea of a good time. I started strong, enjoying a part of North Park I'd never run in previously, keeping my effort level high without over exerting myself. I settled in somewhere between the 1:40 and 1:50 pace groups, taking care to maintain my pace, drink water and to relax and enjoy as much as possible. I pushed myself, but never so much that I had to slow down and finished the race in 1:43:19, a personal record.
The race gave me a jolt of confidence and concrete marker that all my hard work over these weeks really is paying off. I am not one to micro-manage my speed and miles (though I do track them in a general way) -- so I was pleasantly surprised but what I was able to do. I felt a window of possibility open, the possiblity of making my highest marathon goal. I left the race with a sense of what could be -- and race day I will bring everything I have, and it just so happens that my everything could be enough to qualify for Boston. Until then, it's back to the grind with a little more confidence in every stride.