Sunday, February 9, 2014

Boston Training Week 8, The Extra Mile

Monday:  I run in the early morning in short sleeves and feel a touch of spring in the air.  I know this is nature's means of teasing us; winter is not vanquished yet.  Winter may have released its grip for a moment, but has not left us for good - yet I also know that spring is around the corner.  Spring will come again, just as it has for each of the 32 years of my existence.  January and February:  these are the months to thicken our skin.  To test our resolve.

I run to the bridge they have been working on for years (it seems) going over the Interstate and ponder crossing, as the barriers are down now.  I decide to wait - and the bridge will open soon.  In the spring and many days ahead, I will run across it countless times.  It gives me something to look forward to, on the summer days where I will long for the cooler days again.

4 miles.

Tuesday:  I watch the rain collect in beads on my jacket.  I brush them off with my mittens and watch them cascade to the soaked bridle trail beneath my feet.  My phone is covered in a ziploc bag and my headphones are plugged in under my drenched hat.  Maybe it is unwise to run to music in these conditions, but I take that risk.  I have the park to myself in the afternoon - this was my plan all along for the day.  The hills at Umstead and Turkey Creek await me like that old stubborn friend who dishes out tough love and I dish it right back.  I had planned on 8, but I go an extra mile on Turkey Creek, knowing I have added 2.

I celebrate with a Foothills Sexual Chocolate at Mattie B's before heading back to Cameron for the first time since 2003 thanks to Karen.  And I think to myself, "what a damn good miserable February day."

10 miles.

Wednesday:  Each year, thousands of runners break 3 hours in the marathon.  I would assume all of them head out to a track or some sort of course every now and then in preparation and push themselves at a pace too fast for conversation, too fast for comfort, too fast to think of anything other than to count down the laps before stopping.  If I want to join them, this is what I need to do.

Intervals.  These are the workouts needed to get faster.  2 by mile and a half at 10K pace overall - some laps faster, some laps slower.  3 minute jog between.  In the dark.  In the cold.

Reward:  Carrburritos.   Eugene Mirman and some sort of slam poet opener.  Flagship IPA.

8.6 miles.

Thursday:  And some days I just need a break.

Friday:  The kids at Duke are already camping out.  Sunlight creeps beyond 6 PM.  Campus Drive opens up before me.  Tempo pace around East Campus.  Darkness settles in on the second loop, which is slower than the first, but faster than I hope to run at Boston.  I jog back to West, satisfied with my effort, but spent after the week.  Sam's Quick Shop is humming.  In my running gear, I look out of place amongst the sea of hipsters guzzling dark winter ales on draft.  I remember buying cheap malt liquor here and clove cigarettes for fraternity brothers back in 2000, when it was that "sketchy place on the corner."  Funny how times change.  Yet somehow stay the same...

The weekend begins.

8 miles.

Saturday:  90s Running Songs, ATT.  Reading "The Disaster Artist".

7.3 miles.

Sunday:  I watch the sky begin to glow in hues of orange and pink in the backdrop behind the barren trees on Reedy Creek trail.  Umstead Park opens up like a runway and the crowd of four of us are in flight on an otherwise empty trail at the break of dawn.  I am running with the Bull City group - this is not a chatty crowd on this cold morning.  I know at least 2 of the guys could throw down the hammer at any time and leave me in their wake.  We are already going sub-7 pace and I have 18 miles planned.  I resolve to hang on as long as I can.  This is how I get better.  This is the formula that has worked for years - but I know at the first sign of a more permanent pain, I need to ratchet back or stop.

On Turkey Creek one of the guys drops back and I internally breathe a sigh of relief.  We make our way purposefully up each of the 3 tough climbs on the back section of the park and then back up Greylyn and Cemetery Hill before settling into a good cadence again going out of the park, as the masses emerge from Raleigh and Cary in their large, more social running cohorts later in the morning.

I meet the group back at our cars.  They are finished and heading home for the day.

But I have at least 4 miles left, and then I decide to tack on one extra.  Because I can.

19 miles.

Weekly Total:  57

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