Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Run (Not) to Remember

Today, I ran 20.1 miles.  So, that put me at 1,600 miles for the year total.  At the start of the year I never would have guessed that I would reach 1,600 miles a full week before the end of September.  This is good.

It was a crazy week.  Since I last wrote, I ran a very intense progression outdoors in which I started with a mile at 8:04 and worked my way down to a 6:44.  That was great.

I was supposed to run a track workout that included 9x600 at 2:14.  That didn't happen because my son was in the ER on Thursday night and I was in no shape to run on Friday morning.

Saturday, I ran 5.9 miles just to get my legs going.

Then, there was this morning.

The goal was to have a run similar to what I did last Sunday--run the first 14 easily and then pick up the last six.  The extra 0.1 was just to bring myself to 1,600 after the missed run on Friday.

So, I left the house.  It was warmer and more humid than it had been in a while.

It was foggy at 5:55.

I ran the first mile headed out to and south on York Rd in 8:28.  Not the fastest start, but I had run this type of pace for the first mile and then sped up on more than one occasion.  So, I didn't think much of it.

Mile 2 continued down York Rd--I ran an 8:04.  That put me closer to the 8:00 miles I was hoping to run for the first 14 miles, but it was still not perfect.  Mile 3 continuing down to 34th and Greenmount--8:05.  Something was a bit unusual about not being able to get myself going faster.  I continued across 33rd street to Trivoly--8:06.  Mile 5 took me part way around Lake Montebello--8:01.  Continuing around the Lake and heading back past Trivoly--7:58.  So, it was already clear that I was going to have to work a lot harder than I usually did to get a better pace going.

I ran across 33rd all the way to St. Paul and then down to 32nd, over to Charles, and down to 29th.  Mile 7--8:06.  Mile 8 was around and toward Druid Hill Park--7:59.  Mile 9 was basically the 9th mile of the old Baltimore 10 Miler course--7:59 again.  Mile 10 took me to the zoo entrance--7:50.  Something was finally falling into place.  Heading back toward Druid Lake, I ran a 7:47.  Mile 12 was then 7:43.  Mile 13 coming off the Lake was a 7:36.  But that was the best I would get this day.  Mile 14 was a 7:45.  Mile 15 leading back to Greenmount and 34th was 8:04.  The next four miles were between 8:15 and 8:25.  I finished with an 8:02.

I was frustrated but I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about it.  Why not? Mostly because in the next 20 minutes, I needed to be ready to leave for Sunday school.

But also, because I had known for quite a bit of the run that my legs were feeling like they did at the end of Boston 2013.

I had realized long before I was done that I would only be able to finish today rather than to run my goal.  I had come to grips with that.

And over time, I have gone from being truly upset every time I missed a goal to just taking it in and figuring out what the lesson was.

So, let me pull a few things together.

I am now in Dalhart, TX.  The Catholic church in this town is St. Anthony's.  St. Anthony is expected to help people find things.  Today, I needed to find a reason for what happened.

I thought about reasons.  Too much sun yesterday.  Still dealing with stress/tiredness of last week.  Too much wine yesterday.  Too much stress this coming week.  Too many work tasks undone.  Not the right combination of nutrition and hydration.  The weather.  Running too many miles alone.

Plenty of possible explanations.

But when all was said and done, I had a distance I needed to go, and I did it.

How did St. Anthony help me to find meaning?

In today's gospel reading--Matthew 20:1-16A.  It is the reading in which the land owner pays the same amount to all the workers regardless of when they started.  It goes with the theme from the first reading of our not understanding God's ways.

I am not about to say that God wanted me to run slowly.  I am not even going to say that it was somehow fate or a higher force that led to my running slowly.  

What I am going to say is that there are certainly things that I just don't understand.  And sometimes I just have to accept that. And I always tell my fellow runners that when all is said and done, we all start at the same starting line and cross the same finish line.  So, today's workout would have been and ended at my house with 20.1 miles in between regardless of how quickly I went.  On Nov 23, the race in Philadelphia will have the same start and finish regardless of how long it takes to get from the start to the finish.

So, sometimes I just have to accept that that is all I could manage.  Getting from the start to the finish.

And that is good enough.

All finishers get a medal in the marathon.

I get credit for getting from the start to the finish.

The parable leaves it at that.

But if we were to think about what else might happen--would there be a lesson learned from showing up earlier.  Is there a lesson to be learned for being prepared?  Other parables tell of such things.

And that is what training is all about.  While I can accept that all I could do was get from start to finish, I also should be cognizant of what training is for.  It is to minimize the number of days when I have to say "Felt like crap" as the only description I give.  And to minimize the chance that my bad day will come on race day.

There is a lot here.  It is still somewhat jumbled.  I will make more sense of it over time.

But the key is to accept what I ran.  To recognize that sometimes it is just about getting from point A to point B.  And that sometimes there are things that I will never understand, but I must take in and prepare for the next time. 

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