At the beginning of this week, I knew getting in my long run progression was going to take some sacrifices; sacrifices of sleep and of time. Aaron was going to be out of town and Paul had done a tempo earlier in the week. The big CRC group was running at Beatty, which if you want to make it through the run with both ankles in tact, is no place to push the pace. My only option was to drive up to Huntersville at the ass crack of dawn and run with Mike, Nathan and Bill. I looked forward to the running buddies. I did not look forward to the early hour and a running location that was not right around the corner.
But, I needed this run. Ever since Saturday's race, I have been in a mini-funk. Easy runs have felt tough. Workouts have seemed impossible and when that starts to happen, a hobby becomes a chore. A passion becomes a pain. I had told just Lauren and Aaron that if today's progression didn't go well I was going to force myself to take three to four days off. Ok, I know that's melodramatic, but my fear was I was burning myself out. Mark and I went over some of the reasons that may be behind the mini-funk, and over-training topped the list.
Like any runner, I don't like to take time off. I was going to do whatever I had to do to make today's run a mental and physical success. As soon as I got off work last night, I went by the Harris Teeter and filled a grocery cart with ice. I stood behind two guys buying enough alcohol to stock a sports stadium, and thought, "if they only knew I was going to sit in all this ice instead of using it to chill my beer." (Side note: runners find things normal that NO ONE ELSE would think is such. Whenever, I catch myself in one of these moments -- buying ice so I can sit in it, or rubbing vasoline on my nipples -- I think of those old Adidas ads.) Following my ice bath, Lauren and I went to Boriana's where she made us a delicious Bulgarian dinner. Then, it was a couple of chapters of The Art of Racing in the Rain, followed by an early bed time.
Fueled by a piece of bread with Nutella and a banana, I was in the Huntersville business park parking lot by 5:45 am. I got in a good stretch and we set out on an 8 mile easy run. We averaged around 7:20, carrying on a good conversation. Then, talking time was over. I told myself that if I could work my way down to about 5:55 on the progression portion of the run, I'd consider it a sucess. If I struggled to get out of the 6:20 range, it was hiatus time. I had planned to do six, but since the other guys were doing eight, I figured I'd run six then see how I felt. Right away I was 6:15 and it felt very easy. Good sign. From there each mile got quicker. By the fifth mile I was 5:50. The sixth mile I went 5:39 and thought, "I can do one more." I cranked out another 5:40 and shut it down. Success! Sure, alone these aren't lightning fast miles, but it sure is a nice way to seal up the back end of a 16 mile run. Plus, the other guys were going longer and a bit more conservative which made this a solo effort and that's always harder. It's also encouraging that I at no point felt like I was digging and could have done that eighth mile had I needed to.
A decent workout has set the tone for the day. I am in a good mood and have a good appetite. We just got back from Costco where I ate every sample they were offering -- some of them twice. I'm planning to eat a big burger tonight. For now, I plan to take a nap.