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Control

September 22, 2008

Started out with two miles over the bridge. Last time I did a long run, my second mile over the bridge I did at 9:34, which I thought was probably a little faster than altogether necessary. This time I really wanted to focus on my form. My word for the day was control. I really wanted to feel like I was dictating my pace, not the other way around.

First time over the bridge, I concentrated on making sure my legs felt strong, that my hands stayed open–not that I ever have a problem with that–and that my eyes stayed focused on a spot well past the top of the bridge. I noticed that heat rises up over the bridge–yuck!–making it feel like you’re running over a giant vat of soup. Be that as it may, I also concentrated on not pushing the pace, just charging the hill. Once I was over the crest, I worked on coasting down the backside of it and using the flat on the other side–probably a quarter mile–to get my stride back to a cruising state before turning around to do it again. I felt like I conquered the bridge well: first time over, the pace was 9:45; second time over, 9:43. Much more controlled and in line with what my overall pace should be.

After that, set out for an additional 11 miles. Felt just okay. Knew I’d have to break into the beans at the turnaround to stay well–it was warm (again). Now, taking turns with my focus word control was a new mantra: I hate Florida in September. (It actually fits quite well into I love Paris in the springtime . . .)

Ran into my sometime-running partner, Natalie, when I was almost one mile from the turning point. She told me I’d probably run into her later, since she felt like she was running slowly. Once at the halfway mark, though, I had to stop at the wc, so I lost some time there. Got going again, but at miles 9 and 10 conducted an on-the-run interview about a hydration belt with a triathlete training for an Ironman who was running a 20-miler. Earned me a 10-minute mile, and probably cost me any chance of catching Natalie.

Starting at mile 11, I thought I saw a glimpse of Natalie’s red shorts. I felt great, so I started picking up the pace. Passed the triathlete, who’d earlier left me at a water stop (people with hydration belts scoff at water stops). Passed lots of other runners. Me feel strong, and running negative splits. Still trying to shorten the distance between me and the red shorts. Mile 11 comes in at 9:21. Now all this time a runner in front of me keeps looking over his shoulder, seeing me behind him, and increasing his pace steadily. Now I’m not trying to get by him. I’m trying to get to the red shorts. He happens to be between us. Finally I realize, he’s not going to let me by.

People, I don’t race my long runs. But I have to admit I was a little annoyed by this huff-and-puff, look-over-my-shoulder, not-even-in-my-age-group, let-alone-my-gender runner who wanted to turn a training run into a race. Seriously. I’m still trying to catch my friend. Finally I realize I have two miles to go to get back to my car. The red shorts don’t belong to Natalie; she’s actually nowhere in sight. But now I’m fired up. I switch to the sidewalk and get back to my word: control.

Might as well find out what I have left at the end of a thirteen-miler, right? Hey, it’s the distance I’m training for. I did my absolute best, please believe me, to ignore said runner*, and just let it out, while still staying as tightly controlled as I could. I tried to channel my inner long sprinter. Mile 12 came in at 9:03. I felt fluid and like my form was tight and strong. When Garmie told me I had another mile left, I really pushed–not sprinting all-out, of course, but putting out my best mile-long effort, again thinking through control. Mile 13 came in at 8:08. I ran in an extra .1 to simulate the half and see what I had accomplished, with a 13.1 training run.

Did it in 2:03:52. Not bad for a training run. Oh, if I can break 2 on November 16.

*I don’t know what happened to the would-be racer. After I took to the sidewalk, I never saw him again. Which was my intention.

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