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Twelve Miles of Awful

December 24, 2011

My training partner, Little G, and i are in full gear now, training for the Michelob Ultra Challenge on March 3 and 4 of 2012. We’ll run the 15k and the 5k on Saturday and the half marathon and 8k on Sunday. I thought I went into this challenge as well prepared as possible last year, but coming off a near-fracture of my shins, I hadn’t run at all after the Space Coast Half Marathon on Thanksgiving weekend, so the first time I ran was just before the new year, and I had maybe seven weeks to prepare for the races. Though I knew I could physically complete the challenge, I think I had underestimated the difficulty of running so many miles in such a short amount of time. I got nailed by a migraine on day one, and by day two, after the half marathon–that is, with five miles of racing still to go–I was absolutely wiped.

My time at the challenge last year–that is, adding up all my time for all four events–was 4:53. I wasn’t entirely thrilled, but I was satisfied, considering my less-than-ideal preparation.

This year, I am determined to do better–and that means preparing better. Little G and I really want to put in the long miles necessary to perform strongly at every event. We especially want to put in back-to-back long runs to get both our legs and brains used to the kind of running necessary that weekend.

We’ve been penciling in our long runs, and it’s going to be tough to fit in all the runs we’d like to do around all the racing we want to do, too–but we’ll deal with that as the weeks go along. This week, our goal was simple: get in a 12-miler after a short 3-miler the day before.

The 3-mile run was no issue. I completed it Friday morning after running 6 miles on Monday, 6 on Wednesday, and 4.5 on Thursday. And I think my brain got tricked because instead of running my regular 9:45 easy pace, I ran the 3 miles on Friday at 9-minute miles. I figured that would not bode well for today’s long run.

I was right. It started early, and even from mile 1 I felt cranky and slow. But, looking at Garmie, my pace was quick. I kept trying to slow down so I wouldn’t have to bail on the run–which I thought was a real possibility, considering how terrible I felt. Stubbornly, I kept moving. I had planned my route ahead of time, so I didn’t have to think about that, at least–just keep moving. My pace, I figured, would be dreadful, but at least I would complete the goal of finishing the 12-miler. I reminded myself that this is exactly the kind of endurance I need to develop for Gasparilla: the strength of will to keep running when I’d rather not.

In the end, even through the misery, I not only completed the run, but did so at a remarkably quick 9:18 pace.

It makes no sense. But it is Christmas, and I’ll take it! Merry Christmas to me!

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