Friday, July 6, 2018

(re)Finding My Mojo

I lost my mojo a few months ago. I had a good winter, but once spring came, instead of an extra dose of motivation, my running just didn't feel right. I went through the motions and tried to prepare for the Illinois Half-Marathon at the end of April. I never captured the passion to excel. Training was mediocre. And my race ended up being average. I ran a 1:40. Could have run 1:33. Should have run 1:35. Coulda, shoulda. Didn't.

I recovered from the half-marathon and then raced the Lake Mingo 7.1 mile trail race in June. Thought racing on my preferred trails would bring back my desire. Nope. It did not go well. I started strong (maybe too fast), but slowed significantly mile after mile. I eventually gave up around mile five. Then I took a nasty fall and beat up my knee and hip. Limped across the finish line proud to be finishing with blood and mud on my legs. Still, no real pride in another slow race.

While nursing my injury, I became sick. A nasty intestinal thing kept me from running for more than a week. Tried a couple of runs, but it just didn't feel good. Didn't help to be running in Salt Lake City at altitude on hills. Oh well. It's just running. Why beat myself up over a hobby? Then I began to think deeper. I'm very competitive. I want to run PRs. I want to beat other runners. I want to run farther. Faster. In tougher conditions. At least I used to.

No more. Now I want to run happy. I want to enjoy my running. In the past, I _did_ enjoy pushing myself, even in crappy conditions. Now, not so much. Partly because I'm just not as fit and fast. Now I am determined to avoid "poor" running. I'm avoiding what prevents happiness. I don't like running in the heat and humidity. Fine, now I skip those runs and go to the gym and hit the treadmill. I like running fast(ish). I'd prefer to run 3-5 miles fast than 10 miles slow. So, that is what I'm going to do. Enjoy every minute. Every mile. Run how I want, when I want.

This week has been a renewal. I'm (re)finding my mojo. I actually want to run each morning (even when on vacation). I'm happy while running and happy when done. No pressure. No heart rate monitor. No watch alarms. No expectations. Just run. And enjoy it. I'll see where this leads me in the next few weeks. I'm skipping any hot weather running and racing. It doesn't suit me. No Last Man Standing. No Howl at the Moon.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Let It Be

My last few weeks, maybe more like months, have not gone very well for my running. I ran rather crappy at the Illinois Half-Marathon in April, then sucked it at the Lake Mingo trail race in June. Week after Lake Mingo, I got sick...that really sucked. Then I took a trip to Salt Lake City. Running there was humbling. Altitude and hills are a tough combination for this flatlander. I did enjoy my last run-walk on trails in SLC. Very pretty area and it felt nice to be moving outside. I need to enjoy my running. Much more than I have lately. Instead of pressuring myself to compete against others, or my past self, I need to simply run. Or not. My choice. No need to run if it won't make me happy. I need to have less stress and just "let it be." It is what it is.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Race Embarrassment

My knee at finish. Pic by E. Keeley.
I ran the Lake Mingo 7.1 mile trail race on Saturday. It did not go as planned. I knew I was not in top shape, but I felt this was a short enough race that I could still do fairly well. I normally finish under one hour, so I estimated just over an hour (61-62 minutes) for this year's race. At worst, maybe 63-64 minutes. I finished in 1:06:52. Sad. Embarrassing. Sure, it was warm and humid, plus it rained on us in the middle of the race and the trail became muddy and slippery. I took a tough tumble and ripped up my knee and hip pretty good. No excuses. Everyone had the same conditions and plenty of runners ran much better than me. Younger and older, they beat me. And most didn't even fall. Lucky them. Congratulations to all my buffalo friends who ran really well. You impressed me with your determination and grit.

I started the race well. Maybe too well. I ran a 7:30 first mile. It felt like moderate effort running so I wasn't worried. Of course, most of that first mile was flat. Once we hit the rolling single-track trail, I increased the effort, but my pace slowed. People began passing. I had no fight in me. By mile 3, I was fading fast. I checked my watch several times and saw my heart rate around 166-170. That's higher than tempo running, but not crazy high for a 7-mile race. Every mile was slower than the last: 7:34-9:21-9:52-10:23-10:29-11:39 (fell)-10:28 (only measured as .8 mile). My GPS was clearly measuring short due to the heavy tree cover and twisty hilly trail. Whatever. I was slow. And it got worse with every mile. Embarrassed that I didn't have the guts to push through when it got hard, but I also wasn't trained well for the heat or intense effort. My bad. (I also started too fast, need to be patient and mellow at the start--see Trail Runner article).

Hopefully my knee and hip will heal quickly and I'll be back to training soon. This poor race performance taught me many things. Primarily, I need to train for the specifics of a race. Hills for hills. Heat for heat. Speed for speed.

Similar to my poor performance in the Illinois half-marathon back in April, even though I ran fairly slowly, I placed OK overall (51/157 finishers) and in my age group (3/9). Still, I can race better and place better next time. As usual, I need more overall miles, with more tempo (and faster) paced running. Broken record. When will I learn that to race fast you have to run fast?

Monday, June 4, 2018

Lake Mingo Trail Race

This weekend I'll be running the Lake Mingo trail race. This is the 20th year of the event. Can't remember how many I've done--but it was a few during the early years. Haven't raced this one in a long time. It should be a nice change. Tough hilly trails, likely with mud and standing water. It's only 7.1 miles. Good tempo/threshold type run. Race day forecast has showers and storms (and warm temps in the 80s). We all have the same crappy conditions. I'll run hard, but under control. It would be awesome to break 60 minutes. Not sure that will be possible. We'll see.

My goal race is the August Howl at the Moon 8-hour ultra. I suppose Lake Mingo does not really prepare me for 8 hours of running. But it will satisfy my need for speed and allow me to get in a little socializing with old friends. I also have a "Last Man Standing" run on July 14, plus a possible 1-mile race on July 22! Last Man makes perfect sense as training for Howl. That 1-mile race? If I can run one mile fast, I'm sure I can run 40+ miles slowly. Right?

Five days to Lake Mingo race. And 68 days to Howl.