Settling is not an option (43M)

Not that it ever was an option, but, after this weekend I am even more aware of how important it is to maintain focus. Maintaining focus does not mean hammering day in and day out, nor does not settling mean never resting. What it does mean, though, is not giving up on your goal no matter what gets thrown at you. Be it an injury, a hilly course, strong competition, poor weather, etc, you do not settle for less than what you set out for. I set out this summer to run a fall half marathon in sub 6:10 pace. Since then I have run into a few injuries, I've seen portions of the course that I know will be challenging on race day, I've raced against some of my competition, and though I could take those things as excuses to just to finish the race in a respectable time, I will not. I am no elite runner. I'm not the best in Dallas, I'm not even the best within a five mile radius of my house, but I made a goal, I have a coach who is preparing me to accomplish that goal, and if I can maintain focus it is definitely achievable.

I had a wake up call on Saturday morning to something I've been neglecting in training... hills. In light of my experience, I'm going to try and throw a few more hills into my training over the next seven weeks. This week will be about recovering/healing a bum ankle and foot while still getting in a solid long run and a couple race specific sessions.

Sunday, September 16th
Rest day - 2 hour bike with Jake at the lake
Strength session in the evening
*pain on top of left foot in between 1st & 2nd metatarsal (near middle of foot, not near toes) as well as pain on right ankle... resting both in effort to save the pounding for a higher quality day. 

Monday, September 17th
Core session during lunch
40' easy run on the grass track + 6 uphill steep strides in the evening 
COMMENTS: By the time I ran this evening my left foot had eased up to a barely noticeable ache and only my ankle was causing me decent pain. Don't get me wrong, I am BEYOND thankful for getting in this run and the strides, but I seriously felt like poop. Twelve minutes into the run I looked down to check the time because my joints were aching and my arms and legs felt like lead, haha. Needless to say I mentally struggled through a very slow run tonight! :) Hoping the soft surface and relaxed effort will have me ready to roll for tomorrow's barn burner!! 

Tuesday, September 18th
2M easy, 3M @ HMP, 3' rest, 2M @ HMP, 2' rest, 1M @ HMP, .5M easy on hilly route
COMMENTS: This was by far the hardest workout I've done since starting back up. In fact my stomach felt more like a mid/end-race stomach than it has in my races so far once we got about half way in! I definitely had to work and there were some points were I know I gave up for a portion, but Jake was (thankfully) pacing me and reminded me to take control make things up when I was on a downhill or with the wind. We did the first 3M on a super hilly loop and the 2M, 1M reps on a moderately hilly loop, both into some rough wind and in the sun, so I definitely got a taste of less-than-ideal conditions, haha. All in all, I'm very pleased with this workout. I wanted to quit after each rep, but Jake challenged me every time to fight through it. The first 1200 of each rep felt very good for the pace, but after that I definitely struggled. I also noticed that the uphill (whether gradual or steep) was more of a challenge for me than the wind. Paces were 6:05 (3M), 6:07 (2M), 5:55 (1M) with about a 1/2 mile shuffle between each. As far as injuries go, I still have left knee pain and right ankle pain, but my left foot is good to go! :)

Wednesday, September 19th
Rest day 
Walk/ short jog in the morning + core and stretching during lunch
Thursday, September 20th 
14M progressive on the grass track
COMMENTS: So pumped to have this run in. I want to get in several 14+ milers and that means every week's long run is key from here on out! Unfortunately my first four miles were so slow that the overall run was nothing stellar, but the last third or so was spot on and I'm pumped about that! I didn't get in any pre-run fuel, but had a GU (tri-berry... disgusting!) at 7 miles with a few swigs of water. Went down fine but definitely didn't like it. Also, my left knee and right ankle are really bothering me still but I'm going to give it a week and hope it passes. Miles today were 9:34, 8:24, 8:17, 8:07, 7:44, 7:32, 7:21, 7:09, 6:56, 6:52, 6:47, 6:44, 6:34, 6:26. Just wish I hadn't slogged thru the first four so much so it'd really be a solid run, but the AP ended up being 7:28.

Friday, September 21st
15' shakeout after work
COMMENTS: Had a fasting doctor appointment in downtown Dallas in the morning, so I couldn't run until after work. Felt so terrible when I started (mix of heat and the knee/ankle pain I've been having and unsettled food from an afternoon snack) that I ended up just shuffling for 15 minutes and didn't even do any strides. Waste of a day but probably good for me to at lease loosen up after work.

Saturday, September 22nd
2M easy, 8M @ 6:25-6:30 pace, 2M easy 15k @ 6:25-6:30 pace, 1M easy
COMMENTS: Really, really lucked out with this one! On Thursday night I found this race online and realized there was a $100 cash award for first place. It was not very fast last year, so we figured it was the perfect chance to get in my workout and make some money at the same time! :) I had some serious stomach pain that kept me up all night and had an unsettled stomach during my warmup too (stopped twice to use the restroom during my 2M warm up!!), so I was glad it wasn't a major race day. On the start line I was actually panicking because I had to go so bad but couldn't! At any rate, the plan was to run 6:30's unless I had to race to get the $100. Since it ended up not being competitive, I got to go with plan A! :) Mile paces were 6:29, 6:27, 6:26, 6:25, 6:19, 6:28, 6:28, 6:28, 6:23, 6:16 (last .47M). Averages out to 6:25 pace so I hit the nail on the head! There were a few miles where I looked down after 800m and was either way faster or slower than pace and had to make a drastic change in the second half, but it all evened out nicely. Made a friend with a guy named Dan and ran (talking!) with him for the second and third miles. Very pleased with this run as it was a good lesson learning and I felt strong on it. Also learned Gatorade does NOT settle well on my stomach! Started getting a calf and quad cramp in mile 3 so took Gatorade at the next stop (5M), very, very, very bad choice! Oh well, lesson learned! :)

Total Weekly Mileage: 43M

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