Wednesday, April 14, 2010

race for the roses half marathon

the first race since august's 5k in the park.  i have tried to find a half marathon to race in this marathon training cycle for two reasons.  first, to feel what my target pace will feel like in an actual race environment.  second, to hit 1:15 or under so that i can register as an elite at the eugene marathon.  it is now three weeks until the marathon and this was the only half that my busy schedule could afford.  so it is cutting it close.

i slept well the night before because i knew that the result was out of my hands.  i knew that i was more than fit enough to hit the time.  the big factor for this race would be my right inner thigh.  this annoying injury that has been plaguing my running for the past two weeks.  it has caused me to shorten my stride, especially downhill.  this forces me to work harder for slower times.

half the week last week, i stuck to the bicycle.  on thursday i ran for three miles at a slow face.  friday four.  saturday three, but this time at my actual easy pace.  if i had a few more days, i would be more confident.  it's a variable, a question.  will it keep together?  will it loosen up?  or will tighten up causing me to slow down, or stop completely, and bring about an even greater injury that will prevent me from running the eugene marathon?

but since, as i said, this was out of my control, i fell promptly asleep.

the alarm woke me up at 4:00am.  first thought that hits my head.  why am i doing this?  who is making me?  every now and again in the midst of my training, these questions and doubts surround me.  attempting to bring me down and cloud my resolve.  i push them along with my covers away and begin the pre race morning routine.

i start the water boiling for my espresso.  bread is placed in the toaster oven.  i viciously stab my red potato and cook it in the microwave.  the toast is done, almond butter, fruit only blueberry jelly.  potato is done, cut into small bite size pieces and sprinkled with garlic salt.  water is boiling, i pull my shot of espresso.

next to the bathroom.  toilet, shower, dressed.

i'm in the living room stretching out my leg.  it feels good, loose, flexible.  i'm packed and ready.  the clock in the hall reads 5:05 when mr. box drives up in his honda hybrid as silent as the morning.

we're on the road, making great time.  trying to calm each others nerves with talks of past races, future glories, and strategies.  we are absentmindedly talking and only half way listening.  our minds our on the upcoming pain, wondering if we have what it takes.

we're in the parking garage looking for the elevators.  one hour until race time.  finding the elevators, walking through the building, towards exhibit hall A, taking escalators whenever possible.

we're picking up our race packets.  one more stop to the bathroom.  a warm up in my pants and long sleeves.  a few sprints, a few stretches, a few high knees, a few butt kicks.  i would look foolish anywhere else but here.  a large box of a room crowded with nearly 5,000 spandex-ed runners twisted in pretzel shapes, shaking away anxieties, pinning numbers, packing gels.

over the speakers a voice blares:  20 minutes until the half marathon begins.  i'm shedding clothing, stripping down to the very bear minimum packing the rest into a plastic bag with my number on it, handing it to a volunteer, exiting the building.  12 minutes left.

i'm outside in the cold trying to stay warm in my skimpy singlet and short shorts and 99 cent wall-mart gloves that i will throw away mid course.  a perfect day for a race.  a little cloud cover, no wind, no rain, just slightly chilly.  i continue to stretch, wondering what this leg will do when the race starts.

i look around at those who have stepped beyond the 7:00 minute mile pace sign.  this is my competition.  these are the ones that will pull me along as things get tough.

and now the countdown from the announcer.  from ten . . . just enough time to take a deep breath, focus, relax, before i push the start on my garmin.  and we are off.

instantly the lead pack is formed.  six to eight of us.  we turn a corner and there is a slight but steep hill that spits us out on the broadway bridge.  i take a quick peek at the garmin to mark my pace.  5:20's.  we went out too fast as is the common mistake in most races.  i start to back off a bit, four people pass me as i settle into a 5:42 pace.  this is where i want to be regardless of the competition especially for the first six miles.

as we cross the bridge those four people slow down considerably, i pass them easily maintaining my pace and speeding up slightly on downhill after the bridge.  and from this early point, right around the first mile marker (which i didn't see) the places are settled for the next 11 miles.  in first place a man from arizona who completely defeats the rest of us.  in second place a man who will later become disqualified for turning around at the 5k and cuts the course short by a mile.  in third place a porltand fellow sporting a red and black racing outfit declaring himself as a member of team red lizard.  i am behind this guy at fourth.  his singlet becomes my focus.  i use him just as much as my garmin for pace imagining a great cable spanning the 30 seconds or so that separate us.

now we are hitting our second hill.  at the base of the hill, i am still comfortably at my 5:42 pace, leg feels great.  we start the climb.  it's a long hill that continually steepens until the end.  one of those hills that is completely laid out before you, the kind that would defeat you if it were at the end of the race.  i attack it conservatively.  not worrying about pace so much as effort.  at the top, my garmin reads a 5:49 average.  i have some time to make up.

but here is the problem.  i can't fully extend my right leg.  i can't make up that time as quickly as i would like, as quickly as i could do in perfect health.  i try to relax, to glide down the hill, to make it smooth, to speed up without effort but the seconds come off so slowly.

and now we are in the body of the race, twisting and turning through downtown portland.  team red lizard nearly misses a rogue bicyclist through a tricky maneuver.  every time we turn left, we go uphill, every time we turn right we go downhill.  it's too hilly, my leg is still too stiff, i can't make up my time.  this is a point of great despair as doubt enters my mind.  at mile 6, i shed my gloves.  at 6.5 i take my first and only gel.  i'm just trying to relax through this section, to focus, to stay with team red lizard, to keep hope.

and now we are on the last section.  two turn arounds, all on flat road.  this is where i have to return to my 5:42 pace.  surprisingly, i get there quicker than when going downhill.  after the first turn around, i draw encouragement from how spaced out i am from 5th place and 6th place.  this is when i start to focus my mind, to prepare for the final 3.1 miles, when the real race begins.

it's mile 9 and i began the first of my four images.  i push lap on my garmin for the first time.  i speed up slightly.  i am slowly gaining on team red lizard.  this continues through mile 9 and 10 as we are weaving through a crowd of 5k walkers.

then we come to the final turn around with just a little over a mile to go.  red lizard takes it wide, i go on the inside.  for a second we are side by side.  then the last mile comes.  the final image and i am pushing hard.  10k and 5k walkers converge taking over the lanes, laughing, walking, enjoying the beautiful day.  i continue to push, forgetting about red lizard, forgetting about the pain, just the push.

and then the steel bridge.  the final, shortest, and steepest ascent on the course.  the hill and the walkers crowding the inside turn slow me down.  the course narrows.  i am pushing through them, bobbing, weaving, breaking stride, but still pushing.

down the last little hill we go and turn the corner for the final straight away, the announcer, the crowds, the final mat, and the digital display clock over the finish.  i look up at it.  it reads . . .


this is madness.  i have to make it.  i have to get under 1:15.  i break into a mighty sprint of desperate death through a sea of walkers.  i run into one hard, i push into another one.  it's almost as though they are holding me back, keeping me from my goal.

and then i cross the mat, it's over, i'm smiling, laughing.

official time . . .

second overall
first in my age group

according to the eugene marathon, i am an elite runner.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

rest and patience really works: week 14

sunday, 1 hour bike . . .

monday, 1.2 mile run, 90 min. bike . . .

tuesday, 10 miles . . .

wednesday, 13 miles . . .

thursday, 12 miles . . .

friday, 8 miles . . .

saturday, 20 miles . . .
       . . . 2 mile warm up
       . . . 20 min. @ 5:31 pace
       . . . 10 miles easy
       . . . 10 min. @ 5:31 pace
       . . . half mile easy
       . . . 5 min. @ 5:21 pace
       . . . 1 mile cool down

. . . on the trainer, episodes of lost on hulu, in my garage.  felt like a good workout from a heart rate, effort, sweat perspective.  i just haven't biked enough to know how it translates in the running world.  there just isn't anything else like running.  you can't get that type of fluidity on a bike, too mechanical, too unnatural.  but i am thankful for this option to stay in shape while allowing time for my inner thigh to heal.  i have been using my tp tools to massage it out.  it hurts a ton, so i know that i am hitting it right.  a little sore even to walk this morning.  i may try a shorter, slower run tomorrow on a soft surface as a sort of trial with zero expectations.  if i can only run a mile, i'll come back home and hit up the bike again.  if i can run ten miles that would be great.  this is the hard part.

. . . this morning was a terribly windy, downpour of a morning.  in that respect i should be thankful that i only ran for a little over eight minutes in it.  i've further pinpointed the origin of this right leg pain.  it is higher than i first anticipated.  i finally found it this morning after the workout(s).  its just a very tight muscle that is hard to stretch and hard to massage out.  i finally found something that worked but involved my oldest daughter balancing on my hand.  i need to find a better solution.

during the run, and the reason it was cut so short, i noticed that my gait was drastically askew.  i know that running like this for an extended period of time will only cause other injury and muscle strain elsewhere.  i thought it best to go back home and hit the garage.

cycling.  i'm thankful for it as a cross-training activity.  it gets my heart rate up.  i sweat a ton.  i even had a deep runner's (or rather cyclist's) high afterward.  but it just makes me miss running all the more.

tonight i'll work out that leg as best as i can and give it another test run tomorrow.

. . . much thanks to my wife who helped me push on my trouble spot into near tears last night.  when i woke up this morning, i could feel a difference in my leg even in my walking.  i threw on my tights, jacket, gloves and headed out.  it was freezing.  i went back inside to grab my hat and i'm glad that i did.  oregon threw out all three of it's worst patterns:  rain, wind, and cold, the triumvirate of death, and we're supposed to be in spring!!  more on this later . . .

first i must talk about my leg.  the first half mile was a little clunky, but i consciously kept it slow.  somewhere around a 7:40 pace or so.  somewhere near the end of this half mile, i got a burning sensation in the sorest part of the leg.  it seemed like a healing sort of burning that brought an incredible loosening of the leg.  from here on out i just got faster and faster.  downhills became easier.  my stride continued to lengthen out farther and farther.  by the end of the ten miles (actually with less than a tenth of a mile to go) i had averaged a 7:00 pace without any pain.

so now on to this crazy weather . . . five miles into it, i got really cold.  my hands were numb despite the two pairs of gloves i was wearing (and the outer layer a really thick polar fleece north face pair).  the numbness was spreading down my arms and it seemed to be getting colder and colder.  something caught my eye on my left glove as i was looking at my watch.  it was white and fluffy, sticking up on the black fleece.  i had a thought, dismissed it, and then looked around me and revisited that thought.  snow.  sure it was more of a slush mixed with rain that had no hope of sticking, but it was snow.  crazy.  i was tempted to end at 9 miles because i started to experience shoots of pain running from my thumb up to my bicep.  i was so cold it was starting to hurt.  but my leg felt so great and my pace was speeding up, i had to keep going.  push through the pain to the victory.

. . . another break through with my leg.  again things were a little sore at first but not as slow as yesterday.  things loosened up fairly quickly but i consciously stayed at a slow pace for the first half of the run, just to test things out.  in the middle/end, i noticed some tightness in the leg and some on the lower back on my left side (same sort of thing that started all of this, though not as bad).  another cold morning, another windy morning, but at least no more rain came my way.  i kept speeding up throughout this run and ended up with an average of 6:42.  so i'd say that i'm back but at around 85%.

signed up today for the race for the roses half marathon next sunday morning.  the plan:  11 miles at marathon pace, 2.1 miles at tempo pace.  i don't want to fully race this thing because of how close it is to the marathon in may that i have been training for.  but it will give me a good feel for the pace and if i get a 1:15 (which i'm pretty sure i can do as long as this leg continues to heal), i can register as an elite in eugene.  i don't know what that means but it would be cool.

. . . another huge step in the healing process.  i wasn't expecting much of an improvement from yesterday.  in fact the first half mile felt terrible.  but then suddenly, i started speeding up, almost without my control.  somewhere around the 5 mile mark, i had hit my 6:35 easy pace that i was doing before all of these thigh problems.  i would say that i'm 100% back, but i still notice the leg at times and it still is affecting my stride.

. . . the first half of this run brought fear into my heart and pain into my leg.  i thought that maybe i had pushed too hard too soon, that i didn't ease into this, that i didn't give enough time to heal.  all three of the evil elements were at work, another crazy storm rumbling in bringing cold and a harsh wind pelting unending rain upon my body.  but then there came a point as i was running downhill.  i focused everything i had on lengthening my stride and allowing the flow of the run to take over.  i sped up, the pain went away, and everything was beautiful again (except for the weather).

. . . after talking to a friend of mine, who has run forever and is currently a track coach, i decided to stay off the track for this work out.  he seems to believe that all of these problems i've been having during the season is from all the time of put running in those loops.  i found a nice stretch of road, fairly flat, in an industrial part of town that sees little traffic.

the warm up i was a little bit tight.  i quickly noticed that the wind was here with full force coming from the south.  i knew this was going to be a problem with my little work out because i would have a head wind during the uphill sections.  how fun.

the first attempt at my tempo pace was a difficult one.  i didn't hit my goal of 5:20.  i'm not sure if it was my hip, or that wind, or the bit of incline, or what.  i did notice that in the downhill section my leg wasn't fully extending.  but i finished with the full 20 minutes and actually felt ready to complete my workout afterward despite not hitting my time and the awful weather.

back at my car, i put on my pants which though keeping me warm for these 10 miles also gave me some nice chaffing in the inner thighs.  also some thicker gloves, hat, and jacket.  i quickly got into my easy pace and just settled right into it.  hills, wind, nothing could stop the ease of this pace.  however at the end of those 10, as i sat in my car, cold, tired, soaked to the bone, i had to pull deep within to get the motivation to finish my run.  i think what finally caused me to open the door was thinking about all the training of done so far and how little there is left.  do i really want to give up now?  do i really want to cut short a quality work out when physically i am feeling fine?

my plan called for another 20 minutes at tempo before my cool down.  but with that harsh wind, i just couldn't do it anymore.  i called it good at 10, with another 5 after a short easy pace.  i feel good about that.  i feel ready for this race next week and the marathon in four weeks.  four weeks sounds so close.  but i'm better prepared than i ever have been for a race.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

open the box

the shoes were waiting for me outside of my front door when i came home for lunch.  i am wearing them right now.  this is something that i don't often do.  i believe that running shoes should be run in, not walked in.  but i want to wear them on tomorrow's run and i thought it good to break them in.  plus there are some people i'll see tonight that i want to show them to.  they are the new lunar racers in the final stages of development.  they seem more flexible, softer cushioning, not as stiff, and perhaps lighter (if that is possible).  they added more design to them including what looks like an iron on swoosh just past the middle of the shoe and some funky braided cord business that spans from the sole to the laces and some in the back.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

seerockyrun[faster--and then fall on his face]: week 13

sunday, 10 miles . . .

monday, 18 miles . . .
. . . 2.5 mile warm up
. . . 25 min. @ 5:20 pace
. . . 5 min. easy
. . . 20 min. @ 5:16 pace
. . . 5 min. easy
. . . 10 min. @ 5:21 pace
. . . 5 min. easy
. . . 5 min. @ 5:16 pace
. . . 2 mile cool down

tuesday, 14 miles . . .
. . . 9.5 miles easy
. . . 8 X strides with full recovery
. . . .5 mile easy

wednessday, 13 miles . . .

thursday, 12 miles . . .

friday, 0 miles . . .

saturday, 6 miles . . .

. . . relax, you can do this, what is four seconds?, a meager one second per mile faster per lap at a track, this is nothing, this is minuscule, this is doable, this is easy. these were the words that i tell myself before, during, and after my first run at the new pace of 6:35. but even as i type it, it sounds crazy fast for an easy pace. but this is the beauty of the daniels' method. small steps that create big results. it makes since to me even if it doesn't work for everybody. it give me a sense of confidence which as a runner is one of the more important mind sets.

a bit of a windy morning and extremely warm. too warm for my north face gloves which a kept on and my brooks cap which i left in my mailbox. this pace was an ebb and flow of ease and push. it will be interesting to see how these new paces will work themselves out.

some soreness in the right leg. i finally found the spot that is giving me trouble. it is a small knot hidden behind the achilles. i've been using a broken drumstick to apply pressure to it and it has been doing the trick. decided to wear my compression socks today to prepare for tomorrow's workout.

. . . i couldn't have asked for a better day to do this run. the track was clear of people. very little wind and no rain. just cool enough without freezing. the sun came out directly as i was done. i thought about this work out all day yesterday. not with dread but excitement. the idea that i was going to destroy this track, hit my times, and complete the workout 100%. i kept that attitude going as i prepared for the track this morning, pushing out all negative thoughts about limitations and fear of pain and questions of if i am ready.

the warm up felt great. no clunky starts, no push, just an easy three miles at my new easy pace and it did in fact feel easy.

then the first 25 minutes. for some reason these minutes just cruised on by. at one point i was 3 seconds below my target time and i felt great. i didn't have to use any of my mind tricks or images. i just cruised, feeling the pace, regulating my breathing, relaxing, getting in tune with my body.

the second tempo of 20 minutes, which had to be 4 seconds faster was very similar. it wasn't until the last 8 minutes or so that i really had to focus and when i did i sped up way to fast and had to pull back a bit. i felt great, amazing.

the third tempo was supposed to be 15 minutes. this is when things appeared to fall apart. the pace got to me. things began to hurt and hurt fast. i decided to end it at 10 minutes and skip to the last tempo effort.

i had to push this failure behind me and really gear up for this shorter effort. my tendency is to fail once and let that effect the rest of the workout, week, training cycle, etc. so i determined to stay on my target pace and for the full five minutes. and so i did.

all in all this morning inspired confidence in me. i have had to do this workout (or ones very similar to it) on three separate occasions. this morning i was the most successful and at a faster pace. my body is adapting to this faster rocky. my mind is following suit.

started noticing a little bit of pain on the top of my right foot but it doesn't hurt while running.

. . . oh great victory! just a little sore for the first couple of strides in my inner thigh/upper quad (whatever that is?) but it loosened right up. a little clunky for the first stride (took 25 seconds which is the slowest i've ran it in a long time). the cool down felt more tiring than anything else. other than these three very minor moments, the rest of the run was epic.

i settled quickly into my 6:35 pace (and ran much of it at 6:34/6:33) and nothing could break it. and it felt easy, so incredibly easy. i was just cruising along. even after each stride, there wasn't much difficulty.

a perfect day too. not a cloud in the sky, perfect temperature (at least the way i like it), no wind to speak of, the sun slightly hazy but still big and bright. i was planning on 13 but i just felt too good. i shall conquer this week.

. . . being a runner, putting this much time out there, i know that there are certain experiences that i will encounter. it's just a matter of time. overheating, hypothermia, dog bites, injuries, d.n.f., and the list goes on and on. trials that link the running community together. where we sit back and tell our tragic tales again and again. outdoing each other in pain and torment.

today, i gathered a new story.

last night my two year old got sick. i slept in passed my alarm and was doing my morning routine: eat, bathroom, stretch, run. my wife knocks on the bathroom door. our daughter had thrown up on her bed. i knew my run would have to wait. i comfort, i console, i give a bath, i change her clothes, i get her water, i cuddle with her and watch tv, all while my wife attends to the other three.

it's now the time that i'm usually coming back from my run. i lace up my shoes and head out after eating another slice of toast. i settle easy into my pace and things are great for about three miles. i even decide to hit up one of those classic loops that has been overlooked for several months. it's down a nice trail a half mile from my house, cruises on a country road, and meanders through a park that must have been built by a runner. acres upon acres of cement, cinder, gravel, pastures, forest, sloughs, river. it is in this park that i have to stop in order to hold things in. i need a bathroom and i need one quickly. i look at the time. this is when i usually go, when i'm usually at home. i know that i'm about 1.5 miles away from the nearest outhouse. it is while i am standing there contemplating, that i become unsure about my attempts to hold things in. i start running again, make it to the outhouse, turn around, pull shorts down, and the ugly truth is realized.

i know now what i must do. i slide my shorts off all the way. then my soiled underwear. they are a lost cause. i throw them into the outhouse toilet (as i type this now, i wonder if this was a bad thing to do. is there a law against this? at the time sitting there, this question never occurred.) i run the remaining 8 miles without. which in the end proved quite beneficial as the temperature began to rise and i became overheated.

. . . something (or things) happened today. too many variables, too many combination, too much data to make sense of it all.

a monster headwind that seemed to appear only uphills.

a knot in my upper back on the left side of my spine that made it painful to take deep breaths.

big mileage week with an increase in pace.

sore inner thigh on my right leg that never worked itself out.

all of this combined made for a very miserable, difficult, inglorious run. i never got into a groove, never relaxed.

so after typing this, i will leave this run far far behind me. except in one respect. five miles into the run i knew that it was an epic defeat, failure. i wasn't going to hit my easy pace. my body just couldn't do it. for awhile, i became progressively more depressed as i witnessed my garmin proclaiming my constant slowing down. and then a point of freedom, a breaking away, a shift in attitude. i was going to finish this run and i don't care about the pace. i'm just going to listen to my body and run by effort. after that i only looked at my watch for the mileage, something i ought to do more often.

. . . i looked at the weather last night and saw that this morning called for cold, rainy, windy weather.  saturday, warm, sunny, beautiful.  so i thought it best to switch friday's long run with saturday's 11 miler.  but when i woke up this morning, my back was still very sore.  and i decided to run with my mind today instead of my body, which is a huge shift in my training.  normally i am i 'if it's on the plan i'm doing it' type of runner.  most of the time this sort of motivation and resolve pushes me beyond what my body would be able to do.  but then there are those rare times when it does more damage than good.  i've ran through many miles that i probably shouldn't have.  i wanted to end that cycle, to be more in tune with my body.  so i forgo this run for the future good, for tomorrow, to be completely ready for the hard work out.  for now i rest.

. . . so obviously i didn't run long again today.  what happened?  still trying to sort this out.  i don't think that i'm injured, i'm still just trying to avoid it.  those six miles today were painful and slow.  my stride is considerable shorter and downhill is a joke.  all this from my inner thigh on my right leg.  i think that this pain is what caused the pain in my upper left back.  overcompensating and all that stuff.  so i figured again that it was best to not go according to the plan.  i knew that i could push through it, but at what cost i wasn't sure.  i still got in a little over 70 miles with a really good quality run on monday.  i figure if i take tomorrow off and get back to the bike, i shouldn't have lost too much.  strangely i don't feel depressed.  i think i'm making the right choice that will benefit me long term.  but it does go against all that i am.  to think that this was supposed to be a 100 mile week.  maybe my body is just not ready for this.  i need patience and time.  why do i feel like i don't have either?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

. . . and i just can't hide it.

i just got an e-mail from nike.

they asked me if i want to accept a long term test.

obviously i responded yes.

sometime next week, the new lunar racers will be mailed to my house.

i will get to test them for eight weeks.


Monday, March 22, 2010

the four rules of running

rule number one . . .
you can always run faster.

rule number two . . .
you can always run farther.

rule number three . . .
your body and your mind form an alliance in hopes to trick you in to believing that rule number one and rule number two don't really exist.

rule number four . . .
the goal of running is to figure out how to stop rule number three from becoming a reality.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

clunky starts: week 12

sunday, 0 miles . . .

monday, 12 miles . . .
. . . 2 mile warm-up
. . . 40 min. @ 5:19
. . . 2 mile cool down

tuesday, 10 miles . . .
. . . 6 miles easy
. . . 8 X strides w/full recovery

wednesday, 10.3 miles . . .

thursday, 10 miles . . .

friday, 22 miles . . .

saturday, 5.7 miles . . .
. . . 2.7 miles easy
. . . 6 X strides w/full recover

. . . only a 70 mile week. this is an oasis in my desert. i needed this recovery week so badly and here it is. i will rest within it. for that reason decided to take the day off.

. . . things were a little rough for the warm up today and it made me a little bit worried. my right ankle is acting up a bit. this makes me a little nervous. just seemed really clunky the whole first 2 miles. is this what the whole work out will be like?

i shed my pants and long sleeve shirt and prepared for the 40 minutes at tempo. 20 minutes one way around the track 20 minutes the other way. the first few laps is alway interesting. you just get into that groove. the pace is not quite set. after this i settled into a 5:21 pace. over the next 10-15 minutes, i shifted between this and 5:20. fighting it. but it was a controlled fight. two people running up the bleachers. a college track girl doing plyometrics in the football field. the grounds keeper (who i found out is named walt) driving around his tractor and spraying new parking lines in the gravel. and so lap after lap goes. i'm now at the 20 minute mark and turn to go the other way around. i'm now in my groove. all doubts about this work out are squelched. i'm going to finish and hit my time. my mind is focused. fells great to be done.

on the cool down, i work out a new song that i'm writing and just enjoy the weather.

. . . felt good to only have to do 10 miles. that 6 miles and then my strides. these 6 felt really easy. it's strange, though my right ankle hurts at times when i bend it weird or dig things into it or flex and bend move my big toe, it doesn't really hurt when i run. this could be a good sign. i worked on it a ton last night. iced it also. strides felt great too.

my plan says that if i want to i can increase my fitness level by one point. this would mean an increase in speed for all of my paces. still debating whether i will do this or not.

. . . another clunky start. all sore from the knees down. legs flopping around, feeling like bricks on my feet. but only for the first mile. and then everything became clear and relatively easy. breathing, stride, everything just came super easy. this run gave me confidence in my fitness. a little .3 posted on to the end because i mistook the distance of a little loop. felt strong.

. . . days like these are why i run. everything was perfect (except for that first quarter mile where again things where a bit clunky--though not as bad as yesterday). a thin frost covering in the shade, a crisp feel in the air, low wind, bright blue sky, gigantic sun spraying me with it's rays. and the pace just felt easy, controlled, comfortable. i just sat in that pace and could have gone all day in it. 10 miles felt like 2. the right amount of clothing, was neither too cold or too hot. makes me believe i can do anything. and i shall.

i've decided to push forward in my training. to move one more step closer to my goal. this will mean that starting on sunday all of my paces will be quicker. but i know that i'm ready. i have to take this step. i realize that it will be uncomfortable, painful, but this is the road i've chosen. i can't just sit in the same place for too long, i can't get too comfortable. it is time.

. . . everything was perfect today, everything except for the temperature which was too cold for the first half of the run and too hot for the second half. i went from freezing fingers to nearly overheating in my hat. but such are these last days of winter.

i found the magic pre-long run meal. half banana, toast with almond butter and jelly, and a small red potato. this seemed to be the right amount of food, settled well in my stomach and gave me enough energy throughout the two and a half hours. this followed with a gel every 6 miles.

i hit my stride early on and just settled one second under it. when i hit the hills on the way back home for the final four miles, i thought i was in trouble because of the heat, but i actually sped up. finished with an average pace of 6:37.

i wasn't sore, tired, or anything for the whole day. i had energy to spare. i'm ready for this.

. . . so easy mentally this morning. just knowing that i would only be out there for over thirty minutes. didn't have to gear up for anything, didn't have to work myself up mentally, just went out there and ran. again things were a little clunky at the start and even the first three strides were a little rusty and awkward, but after that, it was pretty easy.

tomorrow starts a new beginning.