A 7 mile run in 50 minutes, was I really going to be able to do this? It may not seem like a fast pace to the average reader but I know (and I think other runners know) how difficult it can be to maintain a 7 min/mi pace throughout your entire run. Generally you want to try and conserve some energy in the first half and push for a faster second half. Without over thinking this I figured I would run as hard as I could for 7 miles while always remembering that I needed some energy left for the last mile. So off I go!
Mile one, 7 min. "OH no, I feel way to tired to keep this pace up. My back hurts, my lungs are burning. Why did I eat those chocolate chips?" So much is going through my mind at this point and the 50 min goal seems so unattainable. I start thinking about how it is okay not to hit your goals. Just try again on another day. "I know, I could probably make it if I ate better and drank more water." Despite what I should have or could have done I found myself a mile into the run stareing at the glimmering Spring Lake. With each run I say to myself, "WoW, I am so lucky to have this backdrop." My path leads me over the top of a small dirt dam withholding Spring Lake from the valley below. The sun reflects of the lake and into my eyes, it's beautiful every time. Soon I find myself approaching the exit of the regional park where traffic awaits and the mental game begins.
See, when your running for a long distance your mind is going to take you for for a long journey as well. It is a great place to remember the name of an old friend or dig up some recently forgotten lyrics of your youths lost loves. Occasionally it's as if my body can shift into autopilot and my mind is free and clear. Add to this, you're breathing down clean, crisp, high octane air, "super fuel for the task at hand."The dirt parking lot marking mile two had a good number of cars soaking up the sun as their owners explored the park. I'm already thinking that going so hard through the first mile will have definitely hurt my mile two time. My watch disagreed! "14 minutes, is my mile two calculation right?" It is thanks to Google Maps and the distance calculator and I smile. Kinda hard to believe that I just kept running hard as my mind wandered through so many different spots. System analysis is that the front of my left calf hurts, the muscle not the bone, and I'm feeling a sharp ache or crap on my backs upper right corner. Nothing that's going to keep me from at least finishing my normal run. So I pull my head up and bring my shoulders back, "here we go!"
Mile 2 to 3 is long and flat with oak trees, acacias, and pines watching form the sidelines as I glide on down the road. This would be a good spot for a short race or sprinting contest. Maybe even tricycle races around a course littered with kegs of beer and rowdy old friends. Not a chance I'm sprinting now but I have noticed that my stride is a bit longer than it normally is. My breathing is noticeable, but controlled and I've managed to forget about any nagging pains. Tall trees lean overhead and the smells of Santa Rosa leave the air. Postcards could be made here with a right eyes and photography equipment. No matter though, I need to focus this run. I set a goal and I need to figure out how to get there. "Can I make it? Here comes half way and I'm still moving pretty good. It doesn't hurt to breath and my hamstrings are only a bit tighter than before. I stop at the turnaround point and bend down to touch my toes as I glance at my watch. " 24 minutes, I got time to stretch for a minute!" I always like to stretch out a bit at the half way point. It makes me feel refreshed and renewed, ready to take on the journey home. On a usual day I will stay here for two minutes or so limbering up. Today's not any normal day though. I think I have a shot at getting close to my goal. "Shit, I better get going!"
On the way back I create a picture of the finish point in my head to remind myself of my next challenge. As I open up my gate and set my sights on where I started this adventure and decide on a line to get me home. "Yes I can!" Can I even finish at this pace? "Yes I can!" I repeat this mantra over and over again. Any time doubt begins to creep in I throw "Yes I can!" at it and push on. I have also made the decision that I am not going to look at my watch until I'm done. I'm just going to run as best I can from here on out and I'll not worry about anything else. Just run, smile, and wave at people. I love the way back because every memorable landmark marks my progress and the nearness of my goal. I think I'm doing pretty good and I can keep on going. "Here I come finish Line!"
To be continued...