Competitive Natures and Other Slights . . .

This is ice. My run Saturday was so horrible it stank on ice.
On Saturday morning, we finished week eleven of GoRun Wichita's Start2Finish training program for the Prairie Fire Half Marathon. I was never happier to be done with a week of training and a specific run.

Why? Because this particular run was friggin' horrible. The distance was not the problem. I was "ready" as I've been working the system and following training, nutrition, and sleeping advice. I had no reason to fear or blame the mileage. It is not like I woke up that morning and said "I'm going to run eleven miles" and then was upset when I fell short. No. Nooooo. That was not the case.

I have run every single distance I've been told to run. I have done my cross training. I have done my resting. With the exception of the first Saturday (my third run ever) I've never once felt like the program did not have me ready for the distance the calendar called for. More over - I've not had enough issue with any distance or challenge to even publicly complain about running or the demands of it. Yet on Saturday morning I lost my shrinking, idle, dark, and brooding MIND!

WHY? I. Was. Sooooooooooo. Slooooooooooow. My goal, as has been made public, is to finish the half marathon in less than three hours. That is 13:45/mile. Sound fast? It is not. It is actually super slow and I am OKAY with that because I can do that. How slow is it? Nearly DOUBLE the average per mile time for a well trained, physically prepared runner and is not much more speedy compared to the goal of a more casual runner who might aim for a 10:00 or even 11:00 mile. I can't do that speed - I CAN do 13:30. I've been running that pace consistently. It is realistic to presume I can maintain or improve with 55 days still to train.

And yet how was my overall speed on Saturday? 14:45! Yep. A full 1:15 PER MILE slower than I normally run. What is the big deal with 1:15? That is nearly TWENTY MINUTES on race day. And an important 20 minutes that puts three hours well out of reach. I'm livid with myself for this performance.

Sure, sure - I have an explanation (excuse?). I have some calve issues (not cramps but actual soreness and aching (like you might expect after a workout)) that set in right around the time I pee at about mile seven of my longer runs (they would not slow or effect my shorter (3 - 6 mile), weekday runs). Once the aching starts - it bites down for the rest of the run.

What is the real impact of the discomfort? I was running a 13:30 mile for the first seven . . . and ran an average of 16:00ish the last four. If you add that slower pace on for 2.1 more miles (to get to real distance) I'm coming in at 3:15 and that presumes I won't get slower and slower with each consecutive mile (as I have going from 8 to 9 to 10 to 11).

I let my self angst get to me and I got whiny on Twitter. People did what they always do . . . encourage and support. I got a deluge of "Hey, at least . . .(insert inspiration or inferences that everyone else slept in or you are still doing it type stuff here)" crap.

I get it. I'm the fat guy who gets up at 4 AM every Saturday to run. I'm the outlier and the oddity. I'm the guy that could finish in four hours and people would say "Wow. You DID it." - like the whole point is simply to DO it without any expectation of pride or accomplishment for all the work that went in to it.

I vaguely appreciate the support after most runs. I'm generally happy with and proud of myself and my running. I make no bones about that BUT I want to reserve the right to be upset with myself when I don't have a run that I deserve . . . that I trained for . . . that I got truly ready for . . . that I should have had.

I ran 19 miles the days before Saturday's run. I ate and slept as I should have. I brought hydration and nutrition and good music and comfy socks. I had dri-wick on. My moobs and fat body properly lubed and powdered. I was ready.

And I didn't "do" it. I was so mad at myself at the end of the run that I had an actual mental fantasy that involved me picking up a five gallon water cooler and throwing it for distance and destruction. And I'm NOT a violent person.

My disappointment has nothing to do with being "competitive."

The ONLY running quote I can stomach explains it best . . .

"Every participant will run the same course but only you will run your race. You can beat or lose to you and you alone accordingly."

I do not care that people are running faster than me. If 100 people show up at a group run, 88% of them are faster. I don't even care that an elderly company holding hands WALKED past me around mile 9.5. They were sweet. I don't care that people were chatting about their 8:00 miles "disappointing" them as I tried to cool down (they deserve to get their runs on their terms too). I don't care that I run faster and stronger than some other people or that I am defying the assumptions for even trying this. None of that matters. I care that I sucked on Saturday. And I only care for me.

As I Tweeted on Saturday "When is the last time you woke up at 4 AM for mediocrity?" and I stand by the question.

I am not still beating myself up. I had some good chats with people who gave me good tips to help attack my calf issues and I'm considering all sort of crazy methods, including creepy, creepy massage and compression socks, to help me not hit that seven mile distraction.

I'm okay with what happened Saturday. It is in context. I had a very good week, over all, of training and I'm doing very well in the grand scheme of race prep and running. I accept these things. I take solace and get encouragement from these things. I focus on these things. I "need" these things because I'm only racing myself out there.

Week 12 is well under way. I'm doing just fine. I'll wake up at 4 AM on Saturday and head out for TWELVE miles. I just hope that I don't hate myself and the process for the last FIVE. Life is too short, the miles too long.

Happy running, fools.