16-mile long run
4 days in ATL
Knowing that I spent the entire weekend in Atlanta, one would assume that the title above referred to the temperatures. But no--the weather was unseasonably, unreasonably mild--and, indeed, I'm happy to report that I set a new all-time high mileage record! To be honest--and I hope via type I'm able to convey this in a way that sounds adequately incredulous and not the least bit boastful--I was actually shocked by how easy it was. I'm starting to realize something that real elite runners usually say but that I always doubt, which is that over time the accumulation of miles no longer acts as a mechanism that wears you down, but rather one that builds you up stronger from one day to the next. This summer "base" building period is literally that; the foundation upon which every day you layer another brick, until one day you step back wide-eyed and look around in awe: I built that. My summer house isn't quite finished yet, but after seven straight weeks of high mileage training (including one down week), it's well on its way.
It was perhaps fitting that I came to this realization while spending the weekend in Atlanta, working and running and spending time with my bestie Brooke. After all, the ATL is where this now world-famous, critically-acclaimed blog got its start, way back in the summer of 2008. Back then I was just beginning to dabble in "serious" running and had enlisted Jeff to coach me in my first ever marathon training block. Before the Olympic Trials, before the All-American honors, before Queens, there was my then-ambitious goal of trying to break three hours at the Marine Corps Marathon--which, for the record, I failed to do, dropping out at mile 20 due to stomach problems. I was just learning the running vernacular, discovering what it felt like to "double" (also part of the vernacular) and feeling like hot stuff for nailing mile repeats at 6-minute pace. This weekend, as I cruised around some of my old familiar streets and running routes, I marveled at how far I've come. Six minutes is now my target marathon pace, and it doesn't scare me.
It is interesting, if purely coincidental, that this trip and that pivotal summer both occurred during the Olympics. Four years ago I wouldn't have considered qualifying for the 2012 Trials, much less placing in the top 50. Who knows how much I can accomplish between now and Rio? I am not a dreamer but a realist, and I know I have zero chance of ever making an Olympic team. But do I think that at the next Olympic Trials I'll be able to toe the line with more experience, more confidence and the ability to mix it up with the nation's best? I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't. And sometimes all it takes is a reminder of where you've been to reinforce your commitment to where you're going.
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