Friday, December 16, 2011

A Leap of Faith

I always thought that was a cool phrase.  This is partially because it's a really awesome aspect of the video game series Assassin's Creed.  But, before I start sounding too much like a nerd, let's get back to running.

Tomorrow I'll be racing the Celtic Solstice 5 Miler, a nice challenging race held in my backyard (Druid Hill Park).  It generally brings out strong runners, a huge crowd, and promises to be a challenging course.  I have not done a single workout save my 5K from two weeks ago, just runs.  I'm merely doing this race to evaluate where I'm at as my mileage starts to come back and I reappear at workouts!

The 5 miler has been a big deal for me the last two years.  In 2009, the race was put on anyway despite blizzard conditions.  However, it was that night that I decided to dedicate myself fully to running.  Up to that point, I was a decent runner, able to generally place in or near my age group.  But, it wasn't good enough, I wanted more; I wanted to be the guy who could show up to a 5K and win, that random runner who could just outrun the field.  So I took a leap of faith so to speak and completely revamped my training.  I jumped into a new realm without really knowing what to expect, but trusting I could come out stronger.  I started running more miles 60-80 per week than my typical 30-50 and started running doubles on as many days I could.  It largely worked, as evidence by my breakout half marathon (1:19, 10 minute PR) and 5k (16:53, 35 second PR) early in 2010.  I continued pounding away and crushed my marathon time, 3:10 to 2:44.  So a leap into the unknown, higher mileage, paid off.

It all started that weekend, particularly that Sunday after the race when I was just fed up with only being average, and not dedicating myself as much as I knew I could, in spite of work and everything else.  Of course, now that I am that guy that can win a 5K, I don't really do it all that often, because it is not nearly as exciting as I thought it would be.  Give me a bunch of faster guys, an 11th place finish and a 16:25 over destroying the field by 40 seconds and eeking out a 16:43.

Anyway, in 2010, I surprised myself by running really well at the race and jump started my continued rise (which eventually resulted in a crash and burn).  After four consecutive 5Ks in 2011 all under 17, I had finally gone under for good after having only gone sub 17 once in 2010.  I blew away my previous best 10 mile time on the Club Challenge course (around 8 minutes) and knocked more time off my half marathon and 5k.  Then of course I got injured.  But once again, the 5 Miler kicked off a very successful few months.

So here I stand yet again, the day before the 5 Miler, ready to move on to a 2012 full of hopes and dreams.  I'm taking yet another leap of faith, changing my approach to running in such a way as to help promote success.  I'm racing less, training more, making sure not to miss  runs or flip around my schedule, running with people that are at my pace and faster, and reducing the amount of time I volunteer to give myself more time to train. 

Though I have loved the nearly 2 years of dedication I have given to Back on My Feet Baltimore, it has become time for me to move in another direction.  For better or worse, the growing disparity in running ability, and the dedication required for me to continue to improve have made me realize I do not have the time for both.  Instead of giving my Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, it is only going to be Fridays, giving me two precious mornings back to get mileage in at my pace.  It was a decision I had to make myself, since no one in the chapter could relate to my situation.  Ultimately, if I can't bring myself to run any pace between 7-10 minutes per mile on any given morning, than I need to take a step back and let people who can make that commitment step forward.  Once I started pushing people just to get an easy run in, it was time to re-evaulate what I was doing.

This plan is intended to breed success, by making it easier for me to get all my runs in, get more sleep, keep training on the bike without negatively impacting my running, and with fewer races, I should stay more mentally and physically fresh to really make them count.

Now all I have to do is run the 5 Miler and then start looking forward to the next journey that lies before me and hopefully, takes me to Boston!

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