“You still running without shoes?” called out a neighbor as I ran by. “You sure are tough!”
“Not tough,” I replied, trying to surpress my gasps of exertion up the hill. “Just very gentle.”
I wish I was tough. Tougher, at least.
Between miles five and six of the Umstead Marathon, I was in fifth place when I was left in the dust by the eventual overall female winner (and new course record holder for the ladies). She finished in 3:03:59. If my abilities matched my secret aspirations, I should have been able to hang with her the whole way. I wasn’t even close.
By mile twenty-three, I had slipped to eighth overall. Another runner caught me going up Cedar Ridge, but he was running at a pace I could match. Physically, anyway. Mentally, I quit. A plaque was a plaque, who cares if it says “8th Place Male” instead of “7th Place Male?” Then another runner caught me. Who cares if the plaque says “9th Place Male” instead of “8th Place Male?”
Whatever mojo I had to finish strong in Ridge to Bridge a year and a half before was nowhere to be found. It seems like many runners train to make their bodies capable of performing the ambitious goals of their strong wills. I train to make my body able to compensate for my lack of will. Sure, there were other obstacles that impeded my efforts, and maybe I’ll write about what I think those were at some point if I think anyone is interested, but the brain is the big one.
The silver lining to this cloud of self-pity is that I’m feeling pretty much recovered from Umstead, so I think I will be able to give a strong effort at the Martinsville Half in a little over a week from now. I haven’t PRd in anything since the beginning of June last year (5K on the Runway, 17:38), and I think I might be able to shave a few seconds off of my fastest half (Mistletoe Half 2011, 1:25:52). That would certainly be a nice way to kick off training for the next marathon, which will be the North Olympic Discovery Marathon in June.
My training plan for NODM will pick up where I left off, with a few adjustments. I will have two goals for that trip out to Port Angeles, WA. Only one of them has to do with the race:
1. New PR. The course is flat. 2:55:00.
2. Find a place to live.
No, we haven’t sold our house. Not yet, and of course we’re hoping we will before the trip. Even if we don’t, so long as our finances accomodate, we’re going to try to sell an empty house from far away. It’s time for us to move, and I’d kind of like to miss another summer of getting eaten by NC bugs. So after the race, we’re going to spend a week looking for a dog-friendly house to rent in Port Angeles. Then we’ll come back, pack a few things (very, very few things), and move on out.
Back to the NODM, it looks like this race will most likely be run with the Vapors. There are long stretches of chip seal and this stuff:
Someday, maybe. Maybe I’ll be able to more happily handle that stuff without shoes. Hopefully, we’ll be living there soon.