Good runners are allowed to have bad days. I've accepted that last night was one of mine.
I'm starting to rethink this Tuesday night run thing. I haven't been able to find anyone that I consistently can stick with (although last night was actually fairly close.) It's hard for me to plan enough food to eat during the day so that I'm consistently healthily fueled, since I have to come straight from work. And finally, I don't think I'll ever be a night runner. Or at least not a post-work runner. My job is mentally taxing. I enjoy my job, really, and I do it because it's rewarding...but it tends to be mentally draining, and running is a very mental sport. So by the end of the day, I don't want to run. At least I don't want to do a run that involves much thought, which is what they make us do on Tuesdays.
However, getting up in the morning, and running to clear my mind just as all the stress of "here's everything I have to do today!" starts to sink in....that makes me happy. That makes me feel energized and that makes the rest of the day go so much better. I've had to cut back on my morning runs because of the marathon training schedule, and I don't like it.
I did decide to cut out running on Mondays, thinking that may help my Tuesday runs. It doesn't help that most of my "just ok" or downright crappy feeling runs have happened on Tuesdays, so I have to get over the slight feeling of dread I get when I'm on my way to the meetup spot.
Anyway, here's the analysis of a crappy run:
It was an 8-mile out-and-back. The plan: run 35 minutes (so probably not quite enough to cover all 4), then run back, but faster. Part of it was part of the Pig route, but the rest of it was completely unfamiliar KY streets and sidewalks.
I started out happy. I decided to try running with the 10:00 pace coach again, and she wasn't a bat outta hell this time. I ran at a pace that felt good to me, and it was below a 10. Mentally, I knew this was probably bad because the point was to start out slower. But when I had that thought, we were on a bridge with a long, narrow sidewalk with walls on each side, and it felt rude to slow down. So, feeling good with the pace, I decided to stick with it.
The Very Good
When I ran the Thanksgiving 10k, I mentioned a bridge that I described as "a doozie" in KY. One that I needed extra musical motivation to cross. We ran across that bridge last night and I seriously had to shake my head to get rid of the thought that someone must have replaced the enormous hill bridge with a much kinder, gentler bridge. Nope, same one. It was the first time I'd set eyes on it since the 10k and it now looks, and feels, very easy. I didn't even have to slow down for it.
About 2 miles in, it hit me that I wasn't feeeling so hot. My shins hurt, even though they've been largely fine lately. I couldn't get my muscles to loosen up. And, I was hungry. I thought sure I'd packed enough food for the day, but at 4:30, my stomach was begging for the pre-run balance bar I'd brought. So by 6:45ish when we started the run, the benefits from that were fading fast. And apparently I'd forgotten to replenish my emergency power bar glove box stash. So my energy was going, and almost all of the third mile was uphill. Blah. I lost the group and then caught up with them on the downhill that followed, but I had used most of my remaining energy on the hill. Then we turned around, and that last downhill became yet another uphill.
I did stay with the group for a while, but it didn't feel good, or fun. I would've considered walking back, except I knew I'd freeze if I did. The coach, I believe, was running positive splits too. Every time I looked down at my Garmin and thought that I MUST be running faster, I was seriously disappointed with my pace. Even though it FELT the same as that 9:40 earlier, it was way way slower. I seriously considered throwing the Garmin in the Ohio River.
Then, about a mile from the store, my foot caught on an uneven spot of sidewalk. (Oh yeah: the sidewalks in KY SUCK!) I flew forward, flapping my arms in slow motion like a cartoon character, and managed to land upright. My mouth flew open involuntarily, and out streamed a very loud succession of words that would rival the worst case of Tourette's syndrome. At this point I had lost my group, but I was surrounded by one of the faster groups that was passing me, and everyone was asking if I was ok. I realized I had to try to laugh it off, despite my dwindling sanity, and I tried. In reality, I was so over the run that I lost the ability to run and breathe simultaneously. I pulled off by the sidewalk, doubled-over, which only led to MORE concern and more of me trying to convince everyone that I was ok. The couple of minutes to regroup really did help. I tackled the bridge. One concerned fellow runner waited for me and ran with me for a bit, making conversation to make sure I was ok. That actually did help - a lot. And while I was keeping up with him, I looked down and noticed that my pace was 9:14. OK....I've still got it. He pulled on ahead of me when we were a few blocks from the store, which was fine.
So I was on my own for a little bit, and a carload of guys at a stop sign rolled down their windows. "What's up, shorty??" one of them yelled, and someone broke into a rap song featuring "shorty". REALLY?? Shorty?? We're in Newport, KY, for crying out loud. I cracked up and yelled back, "Sorry, you can't catch me!"
So the run ended on a happy note. I just wish the previous 6ish miles would've been better.
I think what also did not help is not knowing the route. I can run faster on my normal routes, because I know where the hills and the rough spots are and I know when they're going to end. I'm a type A control freak and I can't stand being led down random-feeling roads and hills that feel like forever. I'm not sure what the solution is - try to run on my own instead of the weeknight group run? Try running with a slower coach and just accept that, given the circumstances, those runs will be slower than I'd like?
(btw, my pace for this run - nearly 7 miles - was within seconds of my 15 mile run pace, and that pace had felt good for the long run. So yeah, that was slow.)
I was debating never going back, but the comeraderie at the end saved me a little. I think I'll chalk it up to an off night for several reasons. If nothing else, the mental training - teaching myself to keep going even when it SUCKS - will help. Hopefully I have another fun run soon - after all, I really do this because I find it fun. Really!