This weekend Jack turned one and we celebrated with a little party. It has never felt so appropriate to celebrate the completion of a year, we probably should have served champagne. This year has been tough, I don’t think I realized exactly how tough until I had the chance to look back and reflect on it. When you’re in the middle of something emotionally, mentally and spiritually difficult you just “push through.” You do it. People ask how you can bear handing your son over to the anesthesiologists as they take him away for surgery: “How do you do it?” they say. “I just can’t imagine,” they say. Because it is true, until you go through something painful and difficult you can’t imagine, and if you do try to imagine you become anxious and fearful which isn’t good either. But when you are in the middle of it you let go of the “how-did-this-happens” and you simply deal with what is in front of you, moment by moment. That is what last year was all about: the moments. The painful ones AND the joyful ones.
Now that is has been a year, and I think of what Jack has been through–what we have been through, the sum of it seems so huge. Something far beyond anything I ever thought I could handle. But the truth is we took it moment by moment and we weren’t alone. Which is really what Jack’s birthday was all about: celebrating the year and all the people who helped us get through it. We had a great time.
Two Tough Runs:
Sunday marked three weeks until the CHaD half marathon. I’m nearing the taper! But not before completing two of the toughest runs this training cycle.
The first was my long run on Saturday. I had planned a 16 miler on a hilly route. Wednesday’s track workout was relatively relaxed so I toyed with the idea of doing a steady state run on Friday or inserting some half-marathon race pace miles into my sixteen miler (and idea I borrowed from Michele of NYCRunningMama.com). I decided I needed a more relaxed run on Friday and opted to try the race pace miles in the middle of my long run. Going into the run I broke down the run into three segments: the hilly warm up (1-5), the race pace miles (5-10) and the cool down home (10-16). The race pace miles seemed a bit scary to me. I needed to run 7:15 min/mile. But in a way I was also confident, I’ve had really strong tempo runs and knew that 7:15 would feel easier than my tempo pace.
Hilly Warm Up (1-5.8): The first few miles were comfortable (although chilly) and I felt really strong on the 400ft hill climb from mile 3.5 to 5.5. I allow my pace to be easy and comfortable: 9:41; 8:53; 8:45; 8:28; 9:15; 7:11 (.80). I crested the hill at 5.5 and wanted to allow myself time to recover before I started the race pace miles. I hit lap at 5.8.
Race Pace Miles (5.8-11.8) I was surprised at how good these miles felt. I was up to race pace before I hit the lap at 5.8 and just cruised down the road without looking at my watch to often. It was easy to get lost in the beauty of the misty morning and the just-beginning-to-turn leaves. The road is widing and has a few rolling hills. The first mile blipped by at 7:11. At that point I became a little worried that I was running too fast and that I might end up slowing down over the course of the five miles. But the next mile ticked by at 7:13. I thought that was more like it and decided to settle in there. The pace felt comfortable and I felt strong the next three miles went by easily: 7:08, 7:03 and 6:59. There were a few little hills in there too. I kind of couldn’t believe it. I mean this is what is supposed to happen if you train right, race pace is supposed to feel comfortable, but if you had asked me in April if I could sustain 7:15 over the course of 13.1 miles I would have laughed. That was close to my 5K pace at that point. But now I feel confident that I can sustain that pace over 13.1 miles. The last mile I pushed a little hard to get it under 7, just for the heck of it and also because I ran past Dunkin Donuts at this point and if I run too slow past Dunkin on an early Saturday morning I risk being lured in by the delicious aroma of coffee.
Cool Down (11.8-16) These miles I kept pretty easy. I recovered a bit from that fast 6:59 mile and then settled into a good pace: 9:14; 8:19; 8:29; 8:24; 8:44; 1:50 (.22). I gained 870ft total over the whole run.
I got home and did a little fist pump. I felt so strong, even after the run. I was surprised that I didn’t feel worn down on Saturday I felt good, strong and not too exhausted to throw Jack a nice little party:)
My final hard tempo was on Monday, after a relaxed recovery run on Sunday and an even more relaxing kid-less night away at the beach I felt ready to tackle 6 tempo miles. This would be the last of my hard tempo runs, but unlike all my other tempo runs I planned to run it in the afternoon after we got home from the beach instead of my usual Monday-sunrise run. It was much warmer on Monday, than I anticipated it would be. We’ve had some unseasonably warm days and Monday was in the mid 70′s at 2:30pm when I headed out. After a two mile warm up I started in on the tempo. I wanted my pace to be between 7:05 and 6:50. I wanted to first mile to be 7:05 and then get faster from there. I ran the first mile in 6:55 and tried to slow it down for mile two but ran 6:56, faster than I wanted. For the first half of mile three I was kind of feeling the “too speedy” start and was beginning to doubt my ability to finish all six miles. I was running laps around a park and a portion of the lap was directly into the wind and in direct sun, it was hot, the wind (which was probably more of a breeze) felt like it was slowing me down. I fought a mental battle during this mile, I kept having to push to get the pace where it needed to be. There were portions in the shade where I felt I could recover, but I just wanted to quit. The third mile went by in 7:07, the high end of my goal tempo range. C’mon, Sarah! Get it down. You can do better than that. I finished my laps around the park and headed back out to the road, mile 4 ticked by at 7:03. Ok, I thought. I can do this. Two more miles. Two. There’s a lot of self talk that goes into my tempos it is a slightly uncomfortable place to be, it is hard work…it should be. I feel like tempo runs are were you earn the race you want to run. I’m not just wishing for a certain finish time anymore, I’m working for that finish time in a very calculated manner. About halfway through mile 5 a group of 20 or so middle school kids started running by on the sidewalk, I’m sure they thought they were being funny when they sarcastically said “Good job! You’re almost there!” But honestly it was the encouragement I needed. And I started talking to them too: “Way to go girls! I called out to a few little ones at the back of the pack, they were working hard. Mile five ticked by 7:03. With one mile to go, I turned around and started back down the road, passing all the same kids on their way back to the school. I finished mile 6 just as I passed the last kid and the chaperone running with them: 7:00. I held on for an extra .2 to finish the 10K in 43:35 a new PR.
The run was hard work. Hard because six tempo miles is the longest tempo I’ve ever done and hard because it was warm. Not nearly as hot as running this summer, but much warmer than any of my tempo runs for the past month or so. And hard because Saturday’s long run was hard. But I did it. I got the work done. With those tough workouts in the books it’s time to focus on the taper.
Have you had strong or tough training runs recently? What do you say to yourself to get through it? Any fall races you are looking forward to?
Daily Mile: dailymile.com/people/scanney