A song from guitar great, Eric Clapton...
A lot of training has passed since my last post. Of course, I had to start training over due to the gall bladder issue in mid-October. The 6 weeks that I had built up to running a 6mi run was lost due to endurance atrophy. That was a pretty depressing thing I wrestled with in my head. Partly due to starting over and coming to the realization that I am 37 years old- my body doesn't recover as fast as it once did. More importantly, my body regressed so quickly. I had not expected that was going to happen. Sure, I thought that I would have need to take a step back and ran 4mi instead of picking up and running a 7mi run on what I call "Long Run Saturdays." Nonetheless, I pushed through the physical issues and ran over 7mi. in mid-November.
The following week, Jen and I flew to Virginia to help my parents to Tennessee. While there, I took a running tour of the neighborhood I had terrorized in my youth. Because we had to pack, move and begin the long drive to Tennessee, I completed a shorter 6mi run with relative ease. The following Saturday was a milestone: I was to run the Tims Ford Deer Trail 6 Miler in Winchester, TN. This was one of my preparatory races to mentally prepare to run in a half-marathon race. Obviously, running alone and along side other individuals is a completely different experience, so I was preparing my self for the interaction, initial adrenaline rush, and pacing issues I would face.
Upon driving at the event, I felt great other than a little calf tightness in my left calf. There was about 140 people in varying ages from 12 to 74 ready to run the event. When the race started, the pace was starting pretty quickly, but manageable. The trail took us through numerous turns and up and down pretty steep hills during the first mile. All of a sudden, I heard my Nike+ app tell men that I reached my first mile in a blazingly-fast 8:02: over a minute faster than the pace I wanted to run. Coupled by the fact that I had not trained for the major degrees of incline that I had ran during the first mile, I quickly realized that I may be in for a long day.
The second mile came and went and after a steady incline, I finally made it to the halfway point- at which point , we turn around and run the same course back to the finish. I quickly ran through all the declines over the course and realized those same declines were going to become inclines very shortly! The slight tightness in the calf made itself more of a presence at the start of mile 5. By the end, the calf had tightened up to become pretty uncomfortable and I had started to get a shin splint in my right leg as well. I made it through the finish with two bad wheels in 55:22, which translates to 9:14 per mile. I was hoping to finish closer to 54:00, but I had not trained for trail running, which I now regret.
After the run, I was so beaten down in my left achilles heel that I had only been able to run 5mi last week during my recovery. Sadly, this week has turned out to be the same way. Another week with 5mi completed. All of this compounded by the fact that I have been eating horribly poor, which masks me feel like a big slug. Fortunately, the pain seems to have vanished, so I will begin running 4 times per week again starting Monday. I am hoping that I am not having to start from scratch once again. The silver lining is that I wasn't out for 3 solid weeks. At least I have put some miles in my legs as I was trying to heal. One thing is certain: the Frostbite Half Marathon that I had been planning to run in February is out. There is no way I can train to run my first half-marathon on trails with steep inclines and declines. I am now searching for the right race to set my sights on in 2012.
There is a toll that missing this time takes on the mind, body and spirit. Jennifer believes that I am becoming obsessive about my training, but in reality, I am very fearful of veering off my regimen because of the issues I have faced over the past two weeks. Not running and over-indulging in foods that I shouldn't eating much of in the first place is pleasing to the person I no longer wish to be, and it is very easy to backslide. The body is willing, but the mind is weak. Your body can do so much more than your brain gives it credit. As another restart begins, I now understand that the mind is harder to train that the body, but it is certainly trainable. Here's hoping that the third time's the charm.