The sun was shining brightly as I grabbed my backpack and headed downstairs to change. I felt the soreness from yesterday’s squats in my legs as I walked. I changed my clothes quickly, pulled up my hair, and walked out past the cubicles to the back door. Mark was already outside stretching and tying his laces. I turned on the GPS and allowed it to locate the satellites as we discussed the planned route for the day. This process, which I call “finding myself”, allows me to find the focus for the training session. In marathon training it’s important to put in the miles, but equally important to have a focus for each run. Today the focus is tempo and distance, with tempo being the priority.
We left the building and ran down to the paved path that leads to our ritualistic hill. We run up and over and as we come down the other side, my GPS clicks off the first mile. It’s a warm up mile but still we register 8:51 and my breathing is rapid. I embrace the rugged dirt path that leads down the other side. It’s an opportunity to rest.
My feet turn over rapidly and I try to concentrate on relaxing as much as I can. The run is back on pavement for the next half a mile. A few minutes later, we are down by the water, running on soft mushy mud. It feels good under my feet. Now, the pace has picked up and we fight the wind in order to hold the pace. At this point I am very aware of my breathing. I don’t know why I breathe so hard. I couldn’t even hear Mark’s breathing at all. (I bet his heart rate is only in the 130s too.) It’s sometime frustrating, but it is what it is. I was able to get some reassurance when he asked what the pace read on the GPS. He was feeling the effort and I was relieved that he felt the challenge.
As we head back up to the pavement, to avoid the ever increasing mud puddles, I don’t feel my legs anymore. I only hear my rapid breathing. It bothers me to hear it more so than it does to feel it. My relationship with sound and running is a funny thing. I LOVE the sound of the crunching dirt beneath my feet on a quiet morning run. I HATE the sound of rapid breathing (mine and others around me) and the treadmill pounding.
We finish strong on my lead. I felt great. I picked up the pace more, and more, and MORE. It was only 5 ½ miles (instead of the planned 6) but I kept my focus on the planned tempo and accomplished my training goal for the day.
A few hours later, the cold-front is rolling in. I can feel it as my body shuts down and sleepiness sets in. I just want a warm blanket and a cup of hot chocolate. I can hear music lulling me to sleep. There aren’t any words and the tune is hypnotic in a familiar way. When I close my eyes and let my hands take the weight of my head I can hardly feel the coldness. But when I force myself awake, the chill comes rushing back.