Don't ask me why I go through the same cycle of mind games every summer, where I figure I've suddenly reached the end of my running career because I can't finish a run or my pace is just so slow it's not even worth the trouble to get out the door. I have no answer.
Then, fall comes along, the temps drop, the humidity plummets, the wind freshens, and all is right in my running world. When I go back and look at the numbers, they really don't look that terrible anyway, so what was I even worried about? Of course I'm 60 and it's bound to be all downhill from here. But it doesn't seem so long ago that this was all so effortless. Or I just have a short memory. That last statement is absolutely true, which explains everything.
So, last week and the start of this were perfect examples of what I mean.
Tuesday - I'd read that the trail through the woods behind the high school had been finished (paved) and decided to check it out. I'd thought about going the week before, but that was the week I had early runs and the trip. Didn't feel like fighting what might have been spider webs or brave an encounter with a skunk or other varmint in the dark, so I waited. Tuesday afternoon I went. They did a very nice job clearing things out and laying a smooth later of asphalt. This day was warm. And sunny. And humid. Just like summer. Late summer, but definitely summer. The day before I'd had a failed tempo run (remember? 5 miles of a planned 8 and 5 miles of 400 jogs with extended walking to get home), and still felt lousy. The trail is all shaded, which helped. After a mile on the street I went into a park and ran a mile around the dirt trails there in the shade. This was supposed to be 6 miles but when I left the park I was ready to be done, so I just went straight home the way I came. 5 ugly miles. Slow.
Wednesday - Intervals. Yassos with the Marshall Twist. 12 x 800, or 3 sets of 4, with the fourth one faster than the other 3, 400 recovery in 3:00+/-. Brought some G and a towel for a quick swig and wipe in between sets. Ran shirtless, which I never do. But it was almost 80o and I wasn't in the mood to carry the extra weight in sweat around the oval. Plus, after Monday and Tuesday I expected to need all the help I could get. After a mile warm up, I sucked it up and gave it my best shot.
- 3:36, 3:41, 3:43, 3:35 - Goal for NH is 3:45, so I tried to stay at 3:40-45 for the first 3. Could I do 12 of these?
- 3:44, 3:41, 3:43, 3:32 - Just what I'd hoped for, AND I knew I had 4 more in me. I was reasonably confident, anyway.
- 3:37, 3:42, 3:42, 3:33 - There you go. Never felt like I was flying, but I didn't die (always a goal). Left thigh was getting pretty tight, so I couldn't put on any more gas for the last one like I normally would. But this is the biggest interval test I do and it went well. Better than I feared and as good as I could expect. There were a few other people that came to use the track while I was circling for those couple hours. One time around I guess I startled the one woman doing C25K or whatever, maybe some intervals, too, but I couldn't get a sense of the pattern she was doing except 200/200s at the end.
Thursday - Supposed to be 10 miles - the last weekday double digit run. Almost as warm as Wednesday, so expectations were low. Went through the new trail again and a route that would give me as much shade as possible. Finished through the new trail again. Amazingly, there was a young deer standing next to the trail just inside the trees at the east end. At 5:00 in the afternoon. He watched me run by and didn't seem at all surprised or concerned. It was slow. Good thing it was supposed to be slow. Felt worse. Just too tired. I should remember that's normal, but I'm always disappointed when it's hard. I swear when I was 22 I could crank out a dozen miles and be as fresh as a spring morning when I finished. That's probably not true, but that's the way I remember it. Anyway, only did 9 and the last one was nasty.
Friday - Marginally better. 82o. Went slower on purpose and I think it helped. Only going 6 miles probably helped more.
Saturday - At least my long run would be in the morning. That should be way easier. Maybe I could even do it as a pace run. Haven't had one in ... since July, I guess, and that was only 4 miles. Anyway, bailed on that idea early in the first mile because it was humid like the jungle. 16 slow miles, walk through Hammer Gels at 5 and 10, sips of G every 2 miles. Time on the feet. Things were acceptable until about mile 10. That's when I noticed a couple of hot spots - one on the left Achilles and the other on my right foot at the ball. Rats. Stopped to tighten the laces, which helped a little. So much sweat had soaked my socks and shoes, loosening everything down there. Of course the rest of me was drenched, too. A mile later I decided to try a Hail Mary and called Mrs. Dave for a change of socks. We met up at mile 12 and I tried switching the new socks, hoping for at least a shuffle home the remaining 4. Just a few steps convinced me that it wasn't going to do the trick and the best thing would be to cash in my chips. 12 miles in warm and humid conditions was worth 18 in Dave's Book of Running, so this long run was good enough for summer. I have had two decent LRs with fast finishes in the last month, so I'm calling it good. Checked the feet back at the house and I think I made the right call. The Achilles had a little blister just beginning and the right foot was just a red spot, but wasn't far behind. I'd hate to have had serious blisters just in time for my taper.
Monday - That's right! It's taper time! But it's early in the taper, so I still had 10 miles for Tempo Monday (8 @ 8:20-30). The good news was that fall arrived over the weekend and the humidity left. Monday afternoon was 73o and felt much cooler. A sturdy 21 mph wind made it feel even cooler. Not marathon cool, but good enough for a nice, hard tempo. Please! Let me get a good long tempo for once. 8:32, 8:21, 8:26, 8:16, 8:24, 8:07, 8:21, and (what for it!) 7:40. If I'd held the pace down instead of going all crazy at the end, I expect I could have gone several more miles at that pace. Winner, winner, chicken dinner! As it happens, I actually had chicken for dinner. Really. I've had chicken for dinner every night since Sunday, in fact. Leftovers. With only Mrs. Dave and I at home, that Costco rotisserie lasts quite a while. Back to the tempo run - it felt amazing. Glad I didn't give up after Saturday. No issues with the almost blisters. Better socks.
Tuesday - A touch warmer, but not as windy or as humid. With a good workout behind me (for once), I also wasn't worried how slow it was going to be. 7 easy miles that were actually easy. Yay. 9:00 pace. Felt a sort of pain under the ball of my second toe (the one that gets pushed on top of #3 because of my bunion). Hope that turns out to be nothing.
Watching the forecast for Bristol, NH now. A couple of days ago it looked like a good chance of showers on the 5th, but cool. Today looks even better. If it stays, I'm calling this perfect weather for running a marathon, even if it's a stoopid-ass hilly marathon.