“A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more.” (Steve Prefontaine)

Shortly before 6:00 AM this morning, I stood with my best friend, my husband, and my coach on the edge of our driveway with today’s training assignment: 12 miles. I track with my phone, my Garmin Forerunner, and a second Garmin our generous friend Michelle gave us that allows Bill to see every second of my run and to monitor elevation, pace, and cadence. Some interesting data is emerging from all of that, particularly with respect to cadence, which I guess is kind of big thing (I am still learning my sport!)… The data makes me hopeful indeed for Long Beach.

Long Beach is exactly one month away. I am ready to lay a year’s worth of hard work and ambition on the line. I am nervous, but I want to test myself. I want to burn for 13.1 miles and come kicking across the finish line with absolutely nothing left to give. Although I will compete with other runners, I am competing in my mind with myself. I am competing with the inevitable pain in my legs, with the voice that wants to stop when the anaerobic state really hits with a couple miles to go, with the runner I was last year. I have done the work all year necessary to beat myself; the next four weeks are going to refine that work.

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Legs fresh off 12.13 miles this morning, before the heat truly hit

What goes through a runner’s mind on a morning like today, standing at the ready on the driveway? Exploring my mind’s capacity to feel, handle, and override pain/discomfort has become an increasing source of fascination for me. I know that by the end of 12 miles (or even the 11.4 I did last Sunday) that my legs will be thrashed. I know they will burn all day with acid, and yet I am eager to run it. In fact, as I sit typing right now, my legs are burning. I know could take some Ibuprofen, but I am holding off. I want to feel them burn, every bit, and I want to wait them out: I view these many hours of leg burn (all day since I came home this morning) as part of my mental training, an opportunity to practice compartmentalizing discomfort all day. Legs and lungs and heart can last for a long time on the roads—it’s the mind that has to go with them. I need my mind to be so accustomed to the feel of lactic acid that there is no fear of it on race day.

This is my last 12 miler before Long Beach. My Long Run Sunday runs will start decreasing from here for the next four weeks. I have to tear the body this week and then let it repair. It’s crazy to know that, and yet to do it anyway. I had to clear up a pulled hamstring last week (my left leg repaired itself on mileage after the Disney 10K two weeks ago; my right leg took a bigger hit, I guess. I finally verbalized it to my coach, which was hard to do because I am not one to complain about aches and pains. I could feel it start to affect the knee on Thursday’s run, though, and so I had to confess. I hated to do it, because I knew confessing would mean missing both Thursday afternoon intervals and my Friday run, and I cannot think of the last run I missed (I run even on vacation, and I set my schedule around track workouts). I sat out Friday but was allowed to go do my Friday swim, and I upped Friday’s laps to 100 to compensate (I usually run and do a swimmer’s mile on Fridays and Mondays; 100 laps on Tuesdays). Fortunately with two days of rest, my hamstring felt fine today. Bill is having me not run tomorrow and will be upping my laps at the pool tomorrow morning instead; he is going to switch me to a Monday rest day for the next four weeks. It somehow works better for his taper plan in a couple of weeks. I don’t question him much about his workout assignments; I trust him completely and just do exactly what he says to do. Even when I have thought he was asking for something outrageous, I found that if I apply myself and shoot for his target, I am able to meet it and generally surprise even myself. I could not imagine a better coach for me. Our intimacy is so complete and I trust him so wholeheartedly with respect to everything. I am excited to see how Long Beach goes this year, under his complete direction for the first time. He was in charge of my taper last year for Long Beach, but I had previously been coaching myself that first year of running. I asked him to take over all of my coaching formally in December of 2013, and so he has had most of the year to work his magic.

We had the treat of having my friend Steve here this weekend for his Spartan Beast (held at Vail Lake). He stayed Friday night, we fueled him up, and then he competed in a 12+ mile obstacle course in 100+ degree heat for several hours. He walked away with the third piece of his trifecta medal, and I am so proud of his accomplishment for the very fact that he has put in hours and hours of training time in order to conquer the strength obstacles. I know how hard he has worked, and we talk often about the philosophy for self-improvement and growth through challenging ourselves that we share. He was fortunate to be able to complete the Beast yesterday; organizers shortened later heats due to the weather and then cancelled the Spartan Sprint that was supposed to take place today. Too many medical incidents… The weather here has been brutal. Steve was finishing his race about 12:30 PM, though, and it was hot enough that the rest of the youth soccer games had been cancelled for the day. He even saw a rattlesnake cross the course, which was out in Temecula’s more wild area. Steve has guts, that’s for sure.

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Friday night fueling! Steve has always been one of my favorite people to talk about life with. We met in 1994 at the first Academic Decathlon meeting of the year in Mr. May’s room. Twenty years… So grateful to be his friend!

 

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Up early and Steve is ready for beast mode! Tire flipping, Hercules lift, log balance, barbed wire, uneven monkey bars…and so much more. Apparently the course started this time with 2 miles straight up hill, which in Temecula is pretty hardcore. If there are “little” hills in Temecula, I am not sure where they are!

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Hanging out before dinner—he was a welcome relief after a week that kicked my booty with homeschooling/activities/all the things. Lifelong friends always recenter the essence, you know?

Still feeling the burn… It will be a restless night in bed, no doubt. Can’t wait to swim tomorrow early to shake out this acid a bit!

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