“Another Saturday Night and I Ain’t Got Nobody”

“Another Saturday night and I ain’t got nobody

I’ve spent my money on a 38 mile race

How I wish I had someone to run with

I’m in an awful way”

What am I thinking?  Well…

After running the marathon in December  2011 my plan was to cut back on my mileage and focus on my speed.  From 2010-2012 my goal was to make it to the Marathon Olympic Trials. Every run, every workout, everything I did training wise, was focused on running a 2:46 marathon. Each race I ran was only an attempt to make me stronger for the marathon. The little goals I met along the way where there to get me to my ultimate goal of the trials.

Unfortunately things don’t always turn out as I would like them too. In 2011, when I tore my calf muscle two weeks before the Chicago Marathon I knew I was going to have a tough time healing and making the cut.  (This “story” I will save for another blog).

Thankfully, I was able to go out to California and attempt to run a qualifying time at the CIM marathon in Sacramento. However, my calf muscle was still an issue and I was finally forced to stop at mile 22 and watch the Olympic Trials vanish before my eyes. The remaining 4.2 miles of the marathon was a complete death march but at the same time somewhat satisfying. Instead of walking off the course, I was able to finish with a time of 2:50:03, and in so doing, I  was able to close the chapter on a dream I had been pursuing for quite a while. While disappointing it wasn’t devastating. Through this journey, I was reminded, once again, that running doesn’t define who I am and the Olympic Trials do not define my running.

However, it was strange to come back home, rest a bit, and start running again. This time there was no big dream to chase, no future goal that compared to the trials. I was wondering what direction I should take in regards to my running. Did I want  to focus on speed, run the mile, try to PR in the 5k? Maybe, train for the 1/2 marathon or maybe, it would be fun to race the CARA circuit races again and see if I could repeat being “Chicago Athlete of the Year,” like I did in 2006 and 2007. It would be interesting to see where I would place now being five years older!

I eventually decided that I would start training for a 1/2 marathon in May. However, my body and mind seemed to be bored with the high mileage and similar workouts I had used for the marathon. So, after talking with my coach, Carla Hastert, who I just started working with this year, we decided I’d go back to the 5k and work on my speed. However, my body still didn’t seem to want to cooperate and my workouts, even my easy workouts,  seemed laborious and too difficult.  We realized I needed to rest and back down on my training. So, for the last month that is exactly what I have been doing. I haven’t run many long runs or hard workouts. I’ve been keeping my base mileage right where it needs to be. I’ve been working on running drills, strides, and recovery runs and soon will turn my attention back to marathon training.

But first however, I will wrap up the last couple weeks of training with a 38 mile run in Kettle Moraine, Wisconsin tonight at 8pm. Why? Why? Why would I want to run anything more than a marathon?  In fact, if I had to choose between running the marathon or the mile I would definitely pick the mile 100x over the marathon! So, why in my right mind, without specific training for an ultra-run would I sign up (a week ago) to run one? Well, that’s just it. It really doesn’t make sense and it’s probably not the wisest decision I could make, but that’s what makes it fun and adventurous.  And if my running and training is always predictable and rigid it becomes boring and tiresome. Every once in a while I have to throw in something completely different (last year I ran a mile PR in the midst of marathon training and a 100 mile week) and tonight to start a 38 mile run at 8pm through the forest, in the dark, is something entirely new and challenging for me. It’s nice to have butterflies in my stomach because I don’t know what to expect.  Here’s to spending my Saturday night running and running and running…

Updates to follow if I can move after running 38 miles…

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