One foot in front of the other

It’s pretty safe to assume that my updates on this page may directly correlate to how well my running has been going. So obviously, it hasn’t been so hot – relatively speaking, of course.

Actually, it hasn’t been as bad as that. I still get out nearly every day, it’s just that since the end of December I hit the proverbial wall. Just like that I went from running hard and turning in some of the best workouts I’ve ever had to simply not wanting to do it… well, it hasn’t been that bad, but I definitely have had my share of days off.

Not that it’s a bad thing. As someone who was once chewed up and spit out by the sport not so long ago, I know I was walking on a tightrope. That’s the good part – I can pinpoint my mistake and exactly where everything went wrong. That’s good. Now the trick is to figure out how to get back to the place I once was.

So what happened? Simple. I bit off more than I could chew. My eyes were bigger than my stomach. Instead of breaking down after the Harrisburg Marathon last November, I pushed the envelope and thought I could get away with it. I was a degenerate sitting at the roulette wheel who thought he had the game figured out only to wonder where all my money went when the number didn’t come up.

Need any more bad analogies?

Because I ran “just” 2:53 at Harrisburg, which was a good 8 to 12 minutes slower than I should have run because of the 20 to 30 mile-per-hour headwinds, I figured that my body didn’t take the pounding it would have if I had run 2:40.

Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.

It’s not the time, it’s the effort and I really busted my ass during the last five miles even though when I finished I didn’t feel as though I was done running. I wanted another 40 yards to catch the dude that was paced through the race like he was Lance Armstrong in New York or some silliness like that.

In reality, the silliness came from the “smart” dude who turned in four straight 100-mile weeks just two weeks after running a marathon.

The point of all of it was to be ready to take a strong crack at 2:35 at the National Marathon on March 24 and then gear up for 2:30 at Steamtown in early October. National, of course, wasn’t the important one but it was gearing up to be with the way the workouts were going during those four 100-mile weeks. Not only was the distance there, but also there was plenty of quality sessions, too. In fact, I think I made up a workout that I called “knockdowns” where the plan was to run a minute faster for each five-mile segment of a 15 miler. For instance, I wanted to do one effort in 33, 32 and 31 minutes for each split, but instead ran 33:14; 30:57; and 29:08.

That one made me feel like a badass.

But a week later a 20-miler knocked me out. It was work and I don’t know how I was able to force myself through it. Afterwards I only ran 10 kilometers over the next two days, took a bunch of days off over the next few weeks and pretty much gave up on National being anything more than another marathon to add to the collection.

Steamtown is out, too. With my wife due to have our second child in mid August, training for a race and heading out of town for a few days to run it kind of found a spot on the back burner. August and September are going to be pretty busy.

So things have been rearranged a bit. Hey, things happen. There’s nothing wrong with some new ideas, right? Try this one for instance: a marathon a month through the summer before re-focusing for another run at Harrisburg. All of those marathons will be run at workout pace and will be great for base building before gearing up a serious marathon in mid-November. In reality it’s the same kind of plan I used before the 1998 Boston Marathon where I used a couple of local races for long runs where I got an age-group trophy at the end.

The George Washington Marathon is coming up on Feb. 18. Then I can run National on March 24, maybe (maybe) Boston on April 16, and Delaware on May 20.

Good idea, huh?

Meanwhile, I’m contemplating doing a run from my house in Lancaster to the ballpark in Philadelphia a la Terry Fox. It could be a fun and interesting way to break up some of the monotony of my commute and every day workouts, though the logistics could be a bit difficult. The distance is about 70 miles as the crow flies, which I figure should take no more than 10 hours. I’ll probably need a support group and maybe a handful of people to run segments with me, as well as a good route with little traffic. The running will be the easy part.

If I can get out the door.

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