Saturday, June 6, 2009

Confidence? Yes, Please!

So . . . remember when I announced to the bloggy world that I would be running Thursday's "marathon pace" 8-miler at a 9:30/mile pace? Um, that didn't so much happen, folks. Here's what actually happened.

I left the office around 6:30 p.m. after dealing with something that was really obnoxious and supremely boring. I'll spare you the details. I hopped on the subway, turned on some fast-paced tunes to pump myself up . . . and immediately passed the f*ck out. I was TIRED. I woke up at the stop before mine and told myself I just had to stay awake for one more stop (I'm always afraid I'll miss my stop as a result of my habit of sleeping on the train). I didn't make it. Luckily, I did wake up in time to grab my stuff and fling myself off of the train before the doors closed--whew! I tried my hardest to wake up during the 10-minute walk back to my apartment, but I couldn't shake the feeling that a nap on the couch was in order.

The second I stepped into my apartment, my couch was calling my name, "Iriiiiish, Iriiiiish." I considered taking my couch up on the offer and pushing the 8-miler to Friday morning. It was SO tempting. But then I reminded myself that it was peak week and I just had to get through 28 more miles and a soccer game before it would be taper time, and I'd probably kill and/or give my left kidney for a long-ish mid-week run. I threw on some running clothes, grabbed my iPod and my Garmin (who I have nicknamed Gertie--yes, some of you may recall that my running skirt was also called Gertie; but she wasn't living up to my expectations, so I've stripped her of her name and reassigned it to my Garmin, who had remained nameless for FAR too long) and stepped outside just after 7:30 p.m. The temp was super mild--in the low sixties, and the skies were threatening rain. I turned Gertie on and waited for a signal. And I waited. And I waited.

Finally, I got sick of waiting and I just took off. I tried to start out slow, but could tell that I was probably moving at a faster pace than planned. Since there was no proof of it, though, I just kept moving. Finally, after nearly a half-mile, Gertie found a signal and I started her. I WAS running too fast. Thus, I forced myself to focus on keeping the pace near 9:30.

Mile-1: 9:30 (Ow ow!)
Mile-2: 9:32 (virtually all uphill, but still pretty darn close to a 9:30 pace. Woo!)

I arrived at Prospect Park just as Gertie hit the 2-mile mark, which told me I had covered 0.4-mile before she found a signal (2.4 - 2.0= 0.4 . . . yeah, yeah--I was on the math team in high school; what's up!). I grabbed a quick drink of water on my way into the park and made a mental note that 7.6-miles would be my stopping point. Now, I don't know what it is about entering Prospect Park--perhaps it's the seemingly impossible 0.75-mile uphill slog that immediately precedes my arrival at the park; or maybe it's just that I'm finally warmed up having covered 2.4 miles on my way to the park--but I always feel SO STRONG once I get into Prospect Park.

Even though I knew I should keep my pace down, I just couldn't help myself! My legs wanted to fly! Now, I tend to have a problem at times where my legs want to fly and I oblige, only to have to stop and walk at some point in the run. I told myself that if I wanted to push the pace, that was fine, but that I'd have to be ready for the pain and suffering of having to hold on for the remainder of the 8-miles. There would be NO WALKING.

Around mile-3.5, I came upon a dude who was running a pace pretty similar to mine, but just SLIGHTLY slower. You know those times when the person you approach is running fast enough that you're not sure you can pass them, but slowly enough that you don't want to have slow down to avoid running side-by-side with them? Yeah, it was one of those. I ultimately decided to push ahead of the dude, and wouldn't you know, little man seemed to take great offense at being "chicked"! He tried to keep up with me once I started to pass him, and we were running side-by-side for what seemed like forever (probably only like 30-45 seconds, though) before he finally gave up and dropped back. VICTORY! I was just praying our mini-race wouldn't come back to bite me in the ass!

Mile-3: 9:11
Mile-4: 9:00

I kept trucking, and as expected, came to a point somewhere around mile-4 where I was CONVINCED the only way I'd live was if I stopped to walk. But wouldn't you know, I ignored that voice in the back of my head insisting I needed to walk. I told myself that if I needed to slow the pace a bit, that was one thing . . . but there would be NO walking. And wouldn't you know, my pace didn't actually slow that much at all, despite the fact that this mile contained the beginning portion of Zoo Hill, the infamous half-mile uphill stretch in Prospect Park!

Mile-5: 9:07

I continued fighting up the rest of the hill, telling myself that I could take a quick water stop on my way out of the park. I wanted to walk SO badly, you guys, but I just kept fighting and pushing. I embraced the burning I was feeling in my legs and lungs. I made it to the top, exited the park, grabbing a drink on the way out and prepared myself to pick the pace up for the last 2-ish miles of the run. Now, the best part of the 0.75-mile uphill slope to Prospect Park along Union Street is that on your way home, it's downhill! My legs were feeling crazy tired by this time, but I just told myself to use the downward slope to my advantage and coast my way down.

Mile-6: 9:07

As an added incentive to run fast, it was now dark. I was also STARVING and really anxious to get home and eat! I forced myself to push it as hard as I could handle on the remaining 1.6 miles, despite some slight uphills on the trek across Union Street that can be killer during the last mile or two of a run. I am almost always tempted to stop and walk when I hit them, but I knew at this point that I had less than 15 minutes left in the run and I just had to hold on. FINALLY, Gertie showed 7.6 miles just as I turned onto my street.

Mile-7: 8:57
Mile-7.6: 5:23 (8:46/pace)

I slowed to a walk for the last couple of blocks to my apartment in order to cool down a bit and check out my splits. I had basically been ignoring my time the entire time and running by feel. Imagine my shock when Gertie spit back a time of 1:09:46 for 7.61 miles (9:10/pace)! I was virtually in shock. I skipped back to the apartment happy as a lark and SO excited to tell Wilson what I had accomplished! He congratulated me and gave me a high-five, despite the fact that I was once again in super-annoying giddy runner mode. I celebrated with some Gatorade, an ice bath and a hot shower, then chowed down the delicious catfish and kale Wilson had cooked up (again, is he not the best?).

Looking back, I feel like this was a HUGE run for me. I had been lacking confidence in my training lately, and this was finally a run that I felt like I TOTALLY dominated. It was one of those runs that just proves that you are in awesome shape and can handle far more than you might think possible. Isn't it funny how sometimes the runs you dread the most turn into your strongest performances ever? At any rate, I NEEDED that! Hopefully I can reserve the boost in self-confidence and make use of it going into tomorrow morning's 20-miler!

Oh, and for those interested, I trekked out in the pouring rain last night to get to my soccer game (after another annoying day at work), only to discover that the other team had forfeited. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we beat them 29-0 the last time we played them? I know, I know--that's horrible! But we honestly TRIED to stop scoring . . . they were just THAT bad! Anyway, a bunch of guys from one of the previous games stuck around and we had a super fun friendly-scrimmage.

Now I'm just sitting here in my hot pink compression socks, resting up for tomorrow! Wish me luck! Next time you hear from me I'll be tapering!

Have a happy weekend, y'all! :)


Heather C said...

Well wellll, you completely crushed that 9:30 pace goal!! this was a great recap too - a much needed distraction as I've been SITTING and doing work all day. :)

You'll do great tomorrow!

EmLit said...

Congratulations on your great run! I'm glad it allowed you to gain back some confidence, and I hope it makes for a great 20-miler :) I can't wait to hear how that goes, and I hope the taper gives you a chance to get the rest you deserve. Your training has been really great, and you are going to ROCK that marathon!

The Laminator said...

Hey Irish!

Congrats on your confidence boosting kick-ass mid-week run! That's such a inspiring story. You are definitely peaking right now. One more long run and you're onto the taper period. I think you're going to have an awesome marathon in Seattle. So awesome! Congrats!

chris mcpeake said...

Nicely done. Nothing like a really good run just before heading into a race. good luck

Fair Weather Runner said...

oh yeah, you rock it. nothing beats one of those confidence boosting runs, i was feeling the same way last week and had one of those and it cheered me up. i hope your 20 miler went well!

Running and living said...

Yay! Congrats! That's impressive given your work stress and how late in the day you ran. Just awesome. I am so glad you are feeling more confident about Seattle. You are going to rock it, keep telling that to yourself every day! Hurray! Ana-Maria

X-Country2 said...

Look at you, ya over-achiever! I love training runs like that.

I'm totally sitting here in my pink compression socks too. :o)

lindsay said...

first of all, huge victory in beating the couch :) awesome run! i love good training runs like this. glad it all came together so you could rock it!

Rachel said...

Amazing!! I love the play-by-play in this report--it was so inspiring. And I totally know about the "almost same pace" dude or chick situation. I have diverted my route just to avoid being stopped at a light with

Lisa said...

What a great run! You are so strong and after a good taper, you will be SO ready for that race.

Speaking from recent experience, I want to caution you from doing the same thing in Seattle. For now, I think the benefit of confidence outweighs the risks of being too fast. But remember that you need to go for a very long time.

Good luck on your 20-miler. I know you will do great. I can't wait to read all about it.

aron said...

YAYYYYY i love love love runs like that!!! so glad you had one, especially when the couch was calling your name :)

Anonymous said...

Congrats on a totally awesome run! Isn't it great how you feel totally ready for a nap the one moment, and totally victorious and energized the next?

The feeling of power when the person you just passed needs to slow down again because he cannot keep your pace is THE best.

sRod said...

Awesome run!!!