Friday, June 10, 2011

Try not to look up

To get through my longer runs, I have developed the habit of focusing on the space about three yards in front of me. Then I just kind of zone out and plod along, step-by-step. It’s not flashy or exciting, and I know it’s not really very good form, but it gets the job done. And it’s safe as long as I’m not going against traffic.

This is clearly not me...Quite frequently I’m tempted to look up to see where I am. There are 1/2 mile markers on the bike trail I use so if and when I raise my head I try to find the next one. Lately, for some unknown reason, I’m right at a marker almost every time.

Emerging from the relatively boring world of distance training, I let myself get excited about that trend. The miles aren’t any shorter, that’s for sure, but perhaps I’m getting faster. Perhaps I’m getting more fit. Maybe more confident, calm, and patient.

Nah! That trend ended two days ago.

At this point in my preparation for San Francisco, my mid-week runs are getting longer. The ten-miler on the schedule for Wednesday was exactly the distance from my house to work. Convenient? Yes! Easy? No way. 70% of that route is uphill. Maybe not Bay Area uphill, but almost non-stop. It’s 10 miles, but it felt like 20. It was 75, but it felt like 100. Hot. Muggy. Degrees.

Some time after the eight-mile mark I was slowing down and feeling exhausted in the hot, thick air. I was ready for this run to end and ready to step into a bracing cold shower. Dare I look up? Sure. I should be right at the… Where is it? Oh my gosh, it’s that little tiny dark spot at the far end of my range of vision. And, it’s moving away from me.

[Well, it wasn’t really moving away from me, but that was a nice dramatic effect don’t you think?]

And that’s why I try not to do it. When I’m guessing right it’s a great feeling. When I’m wrong—and I’m tired—it kind of stinks. I’ll try to be more patient, and if you come within ten feet of me, I’ll see you there.

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