After a month of putting great effort into running at a painfully slow pace, I'd started to wonder if I was ever going to feel fast again. I've gained a little bit of weight, though only a few pounds, but I feel heavy and plodding under all those layers of fleece and thermoprene as I shuffle around endless loops of the Central Park bridle path. Thursday's run gave me a little reason for optimism though, when I ventured out to the park dressed entirely too lightly and rather than go back and get another layer, I decided to just pick up the pace in order to shorten the term of my discomfort. I know I've been running inordinately slowly of late, but still...I finished my usual 7 mile loop a full eight minutes faster than usual.
Yesterday I planned to run the Manhattan half as an easy training run with my friend Claire, but I couldn't get in touch with her in the days before the race to plan where we were going to meet up. I looked around for her when I got there, but I hadn't really left much time to just wander around aimlessly looking for tall, blonde Englishwomen. In the end, I just squeezed into the start chute where I could and decided to stick with the "easy training run" plan for at least a bit and then see how I felt after eight miles. Over the first few miles I saw various runners I know and commiserated with them about their latest injuries and training woes. Julio from my team tried to convince me that he had a knee injury and was going to run at 7:30 pace, but maybe that translates differently in Ecuadorian since he was soon disappearing into the distance (as usual) at sub-7 pace.
I settled into a comfortable rhythm at just over seven pace, and like I'd planned, picked up the pace with five miles left to go: 7:04 . 6:52 . 6:52 . 6:52 . 6:24 I'm usually so burned out by that point in a half, it felt really nice to float through those final miles at such healthy clip. I ended up with a chip time of 1:32:41 which is respectable even if I had been racing the thing, but as it is, I feel really good about what that means for my fitness level right now.
The mileage goal for this week was to hit 40 miles, but after allowing myself to sleep in and not run on three mornings this past week, that seemed like it might be a little bit out of reach. But no, I dug deep and got out there for a substantial long recovery run today to wind up with 42 and a half for the week. In my mind, Boston is definitely out of the picture for this spring, but I'm feeling good about working on my speed for a while and running some fast times at shorter distances. Then I guess I'll have to weigh all the pros and cons of the various fall marathons and see what makes sense to aim for at that point. That will also give my body and brain plenty of time to have recovered from my last effort in June. Maybe some people can handle running umpteen marathons a year, but I think I've finally recognized that I can not. (Better luck next time Duncan. I think you should have looked at Miami as a tempo workout all along...who tries to run a fast marathon in Florida??)