And then the summer came and it was awful and every time I was supposed to run, I'd open the front door, get blasted by the wet furnace and go back inside and eat a taco instead.
After massive successes, it's nice to take a bit of time off, but I took the entire summer off. Early in the year I was thinking that I'd be able to break my PR again at the Rock and Roll Half in September, all I'd have to do was keep training like the beast I'd become.
As it turns out I went into Rock and Roll not having run a race since I smashed Broad Street in April. I had no idea what pace I'd be capable of but decided to stick with the Two Hour pace group, which is a 9 minute pace. I'd done the Love Run at 7:59.
It was a warm, muggy day. Really muggy. Which didn't bode well. And when we went out of the blocks, the pace group immediately got stuck behind some slow people. (In big races hundreds, or thousands of people wildly overestimate their paces and even with staggered starts, the first mile is often just trying to get around people who put themselves in a far too ambitious corral) I was worried that if I ran too slowly at first I wouldn't have enough to make it up in the end -- If we ran a 9:30 the first mile, I'd have to run an 8:30 somewhere else to make it up and that sounded bad. So I left the pace group. And by mile 6 I was about a minute and a half in front of them (I know this because I saw them at an out-and-back) and things were going really well, I thought I might be able to do a 1:55, which would be really great. By mile 8 they'd gotten a bit less well, and by mile 10 things were terrible. I had to fight to keep my head up and every step was a constant battle to keep from stopping. There's a loud voice in your head saying You can end this pain right now! You can walk for a bit! There's no shame in walking! but even when the race isn't important, quitting is bad -- it has a catastrophic and cascading effect because you've allowed quitting to be possible -- once you've done it, you can never again be the person who's never quit. That's the other voice. I figured that as long as I could still possibly make it in sub 2:00 I'd have to keep pushing, even thought I didn't have much push. I slowed down a lot and started losing all the time I'd banked but I kept willing myself to go faster. It was all I could do in mile 13 to speed up to 9:13 from the 9:30 I'd run in mile 12 and as I finally saw the finish line up ahead I was starting to lose my peripheral vision. Trillian had come out to watch and although I knew where she should be, I couldn't see her, despite passing within a foot of her. I figured I'd just run as hard as I could and if I blacked out and fell over, I'd at least get a good photo as medics dragged me across the finish line, or, possibly better yet, I insisted on crawling while they hovered over me with an IV bag.
I don't really remember it ending but when trillian found me a few minutes later I was starting to feel better. It was, I think, the toughest race I've ever run, at least at the end.
I finished in 1:59:13.
That's what happens if you stop training and spend the summer eating junk food.
But. I did it. I'm back. I'll get fast again. Tomorrow is another day.
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