Right after The Boilermaker, I went back on my next sixteen-week Hanson’s Program to prepare for Marine Corps Marathon number two. The northeast has been in the grip of a heatwave that has now lasted over two months, and the effect it has had on my running has been pretty predictable: slow times, runs punctuated by numerous walks, fatigue and a general extension of the malaise that seems to have hung with me like a dark shadow since the beginning of the year.
Add to that, life got in the way–getting the kids moved into college, mostly, and other everyday stuff. Given the state of my running this year, it’s made it all too easy to make excuses or even blow runs off. It’s been a real fight just to stay in the game.
But I continue to do everything I can to keep moving forward. I just passed the halfway point in the current program, and over the last two weeks, with the weather breaking, I have finally started to see some results. More important, there has been some consistency–something I can, perhaps, build on in the weeks leading up to Marine Corps.
I’ll let my running log from the last month tell the story:
August 13: Aborted a twelve-mile run four miles out. Slow, 11:27 pace for eight miles. Even though I started the run at 8:00 AM, the temperature had risen to 90F before I got home.
August 16: Ten mile run. 10:36 pace. 88F temperatures. Chased by a dog at mile seven and got completely out of my groove. Then managed to struggle home home fifteen minutes before a thunderstorm passed through. -21 miles under the program mileage for the week.
August 28: Aborted sixteen-mile long run one mile out when a massive thunder cell that did not appear on weather radar blew in quickly from the west. -15 miles under the program mileage for the week. Due to other commitments, I wasn’t able to reschedule the run, and the opportunity was lost.
September 1: Eight-mile tempo run, 8:55 pace. No walks.
September 4: Successful 15.6-mile long run. Slow 9:52 pace, but no walks.
September 7: Slow eight-mile tempo run. 9:41 pace but 89F out. No walks.
September 11: 15.5-mile long run, 9:45 pace with some walks.
And, best of all, the total mileage for weeks eight and nine was 102.5, +4.5 over the program mileage for the two weeks.
Sure, the times are slow. The long run times aren’t so far out, but this time last year, I was crushing tempo runs in the 8:20 min/mile range. So maybe it’s time to accept that slow, energy-sapping runs are my new normal. Maybe I have to come to terms with last year being a flash in the pan. Maybe 2015 was the best I had a right to expect, and maybe this year is really more of what I am capable of. Or maybe this is just a slump, and there are still a lot more good races in me.
But there is a strength and an endurance to these runs that I haven’t felt in a while, and the fact that this is the second week of this happening is very encouraging. At least now I seem to be moving forward. Given the way this year has been going, I’d say that’s progress. And with the Rochester Half looming large in my windshield, I’m sure I will find out soon enough if this forward momentum is going to continue.