Saturday, January 8, 2011

Decision Making Run

Target: 20 miles w/last 10 @MP (6:20)
Actual: 21 miles in 2:24: 10.5 easy, 9.5 @6:20, 1 mile wog

Time is running out.

Houston Marathon is a mere three weeks and one day away, and my flight isn't going to book itself. At the end of last week I told myself I'd make the call by the end of this week, and for better or worse that decision would all come down to how I performed on today's long run.

The run started well before daylight, when I met Alice Rogers and Ann Falcone at the entrance to the McMullen Creek greenway. The last time I was here I nailed a crucial workout with Jordan and B-Mac, and I was hoping to continue that trend today. Fortunately, I would have lots of company--at least at first. The plan was for Alice and Ann and I to get in a few early miles, then loop back to meet a group of CRC folks at 7, who would then loop back and meet another group of CRCers at 7:30. From there I would have another 2-3 easy miles out on the greenway before commencing the marathon pace portion of the run, which I thought would occur on a simple out-and-back route along the paved path. Unfortunately, I didn't foresee rain on Friday night and below-freezing temperatures on Saturday morning; to our chagrin, we discovered on the first few miles that many sections of the greenway were slick with ice. This can be annoying at best and quite dangerous at worst, particularly when trying to run fast, so it became apparent early on that I would have to readjust either my workout or my expectations, or both.

By the time we looped back to the parking lot to pick up the 7:30 group I already had 7 miles under my belt. Mainers agreed to help me out with my tempo, although he had to be back at his car and on the road by 8:30 at the latest. This meant that by the time we started picking up the pace at 10.5, he would only be able to accompany me for 3.5 miles back to the parking lot. Much appreciated for sure, but I knew it would make for loneliness in the late stages, particularly when my other companion B-Mac also bailed at the parking lot. From this point, 14 miles under my legs and only a third of my tempo done, I had three options: 1) Turn around and run back down the slippery greenway, adjusting the pace to allow for the ice; 2) Abandon the greenway and make up my own route through the rolling nearby neighborhoods; or 3) Run out and back on the single dirt mile (i.e. hard-packed but fortunately not frozen) for the remainder of the run. Option 1 would guarantee a slower run and, as I mentioned before, hold the potential for falling. Option 2 was equally unappealing as I didn't have a Garmin to measure pace, nor was I familiar with the neighborhood streets. Option 3 promised to be super boring and would involve executing a 180-degree turn every six minutes or so, which was also likely to slow things down. With no stellar options--among those, the desire to simply say "forget this" and head home--I opted for door #3, the dirt mile out-and-back.

Was it super fun? No. Did I feel easy and relaxed? Definitely not. But as I closed the workout with my fastest mile of the day, 6:09, I felt surprisingly strong. And that strength leads me to believe that if I can run marathon pace by myself, in the frigid morning air, bouncing back and forth like a yo-yo along a single mile stretch, in trainers, taking no water or nutrition unless you count the half cup of coffee I threw back at home--well, then just maybe it will be possible for me to do the same thing three weeks from now in Houston. If nothing else, it's worth a shot.

I booked my ticket.

3 comments:

mmmonyka said...

Time to book your flight!

Mad said...

woooooooo1

allensroadtoboston said...

Yes! Go make us all proud!