Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sunrise or Sunset?

I snapped this photo at mile 5 of a 6-mile run, and I was reminded of a story about Benjamin Franklin at the Constitutional Convention n Philadelphia in 1787. George Washington, who presided over the convention, sat at the front of the room in a chair that depicted half of a golden sun. Throughout the convention, Franklin, one of the elder statesmen of the the fledgling nation, pondered whether the sun was rising or setting (on the new nation). He concluded that the sun was rising, and 235 years later, it seems as if he was correct.

I feel like my running "career" is at a turning point. It's frustrating that distances that were easy for me a few months ago are now a struggle, and the six miles I ran tonight -- my second run of this distance -- seems in hindsight to be too much too soon. On weak-feeling legs, I ran a very well-paced 10K training run two weeks ago, and felt very good about it. Tonight, I ran the same distance, a little slower, and with less creakiness during the run, but lots of problems with my left calf afterwards. Though I've been stretching and foam rolling, it feels like it's cramping every time I sit. The cramps don't seem severe -- I don't have pain while sitting, but feel the soreness when I stand.

I'm wondering if I have an injury, though I'm starting to lean toward dehydration. It was a very warm day (for March), in the mid 60s as I ran tonight, and I probably haven't drank enough water over the last several days. Still, even if that's all it is, it was frustrating to feel this bad right after the Kelly 5K, in which I felt better and stronger than I have for any run since the Celtic Solstice 5-mile in December.

Of course, I was also stupid and forgot to wear my new shoes.

Motivation is also lacking a bit lately. While I do want to be a marathoner again and I am committed to getting back to Virginia Beach for the 41st running of the Shamrock Marathon in 2013, I admit it's been really nice to only have to squeeze in a 30 or 40-minute run, or find time for 50 or 60-minute long run, instead of 2-3 hours on Saturday morning.

But even without pressure for really time-consuming runs, I've taken every lame excuse I can find to not get enough runs in. I actually got myself up this morning for a change for a 3-miler (what I had time for before work), but there was some construction at the end of the path that leads down into York Haven. I'm sure I could have just gone around it, but instead I put my run off until after work (when I can run in Manchester w/o all the school traffic and pedestrians), when it was quite a bit warmer. Today, at least, I got out there! Last week, I ran on Tuesday, but found lame-o excuses to skip on Thursday or Friday.

Between last Tuesday's frustrating 3-miles and Saturday's frustrating 5, I just didn't care. It almost felt like when I "took a break" from lifting -- for a whole year. Luckily, I was signed up for the 5K, and wanted to get some miles in (on Saturday) before that or I was probably a couple days away from "I'm taking a break" from running. That's just how it felt. I'd been more frustrated, more disappointed at times over the past five years, but I just felt like I was closer to just giving it up than I'd ever been. The good 5K got me fired back up, and then this one just frustrated me again.

I need to re-establish consistency. Go back to the basics. Embrace the short distances that are in my wheelhouse right now, and like I said in one of last week's whiny blog entries, not get too high or too low.

I think, as long as my calf isn't really injured, that I can get through the TowneBank 8K on Saturday. I'm going to try for a good race, but I know even on that flat course it would be foolish to try for a PR right now. I'll then have a little more than a month until the Sole of the City 10K. I probably need to just take the first couple weeks of that month to get back into an every-other-day running routine and see if I can get myself back to being really comfortable with 3-4 miles. There's not time to build as gradually to 6 miles as I did the first time around (over months!) in 2009, but right now it just seems like I'm biting off a little more than I can chew at that distance.

I have to realize and accept that this year's best-case scenario for me is to mirror 2009, when I built my long run distance from 4 miles to 13.1, and I have to learn to be happy with the little victories: a good effort in a 5K (even if the times don't necessary match last years'), hopefully a great Harrisburg Mile, and slowly building my base mileage and long runs back up. I didn't run 6 miles until Memorial Day that year, and by fall I'd trained up to run a first half marathon that I'm still very happy with. If I slow things down a bit and try to match that schedule, I think I can stay healthy and get myself to where I need to be to start marathon training at the end of the year.

I want the sun to be rising, but I'm not certain yet that it is...

Here's a crappy cell phone pic of George Washington's Rising Sun chair at the front of the room in Independence Hall. To see better pictures and learn more, you can go here.

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