Saturday, January 13, 2007

So, this is the new year. . .

. . . and I don't feel any different.*

Yes, folks, today was my first run of the New Year and unlike the implication lent by the line I stole from Ben Gibbard's band, it really felt like I'd taken two weeks off to spend a lot of hours at my desk job. I actually feel tired and, at least for today's run, extremely uncoordinated. My hips, calves, hammies and shoulders all felt tight and certainly didn't want to stretch out for a solid stride. It's amazing how "off" one feels after two weeks off. Even though my legs felt fresh, every footfall seemed to hit the ground a half second either before or after I thought it should. It was only with the last mile that things seemed close to "right," and the pace dropped significantly at that point with almost no additional effort.

As for Houston, today's run left me completely certain that I'd made the right decision. Although my legs felt fresh, extremely fresh (even if they weren't operating with the precision I'd like), mentally, the five mile Billy Bridge O&B was almost more than I could take. Although Friday was a 'normal' workday, the last two weeks have taken such a toll that just running water for clean cereal bowl this morning seemed like the greatest chore in the world! With that said, I can't imagine how I'd have managed to catch a flight!

Furthermore, this shortie 5-miler was extremely mentally challenging. Halfway through the run, thoughts that I imagine attack the minds of those who are running for the first time ever, or maybe those who view exercise as a punishment continually assailed my mind -- thoughts like: "What sort of freak does this for fun!?!" and "My god, I'm supposed to do this every day!?!" Fortunately, my mental outlook changed immensely in the last mile, once my joints started to loosen up some and my legs started to get somewhat recoordinated. Although the middle 60% of the run was pretty dim, I finished actually looking forward to getting running back into the routine again. But those dark thoughts confirm exactly how difficult trying to run a marathon this weekend would have been. Although I finished on a high note today, most of the middle miles of the run were mentally pretty bleak. Even at the best of times, racing the marathon presents bleak moments, and I don't believe I'd have had the mental reserves to handle them.

For the future, I'm considering the JFK Airport 5K in April as my target for spring. I've been browsing plans online, but haven't found anything that I like yet. Anyone out there have any suggestions on structuring 12 weeks to make a strike at sub-18?

Billy Bridge O&B: 5 miles in 36:24 (7:17 pace).

*From Death Cab for Cutie'sTransatlanticism.

"The New Year"

So this is the new year.
And I don't feel any different.
The clanking of crystal
Explosions off in the distance (in the distance).

So this is the new year
And I have no resolutions
For self assigned penance
For problems with easy solutions

So everybody put your best suit or dress on
Let's make believe that we are wealthy for just this once
Lighting firecrackers off on the front lawn
As thirty dialogs bleed into one

I wish the world was flat like the old days
Then I could travel just by folding a map
No more airplanes, or speed trains, or freeways
There'd be no distance that could hold us back.

There'd be no distance that could hold us back [x2]

So this is the new year [x4]

Monday, January 08, 2007

Best Laid Plans . . .

It's been a while since I last posted to this blog, almost two weeks. Partly that's attributable to visiting my parents, who live far enough out in the country that dial-up is the only available connection, meaning that I may as well be off the grid. Partly, it's due to my very busy work schedule since getting back to New York on New Year's Day. Routinely, I've been in the office until 11 over the past week. Routinely, I've been arriving before 8, as opposed to my normal 9:30. What little time I've had outside the office has been devoted to having a beer in front of the T.V. The worst part is that despite those hours my inbox is getting more full!

That brings us to the Houston Marathon, which I've decided to bag. I haven't run a quarter in the New Year (actually, a 45 minute walk with Erin last night was the most time I've spent outside at a stretch in the New Year). And although I could run the marathon with zero miles in the two weeks leading up to it, I'd also be abandoning the firm before a hard deadline. No dice. Got the lesson here: don't plan big events for the month of January.

Looking ahead, I don't believe I'm going to be able to devote the hours to train for an April marathon either (we have a trial in March!). That stretches my next BQ attempt to the fall. I think the plan is to take a couple weeks off and then, once the hours get down to a more reasonable 50-60, to start in at 30 miles or so and focus on shorter stuff. I'd still like to take a crack at my 5K time this spring.

In the end, I have to admit that I'm not too upset by this development. Although it is disappointing not being able to race, I'm not a professional runner and in my profession I've been getting a number of positive signs: positive comments from partners I don't directly work for, the size of my raise, the very fact that I keep being given loads of work, etc. It's hard to be upset about missing a hobby with lots of positive feedback in the job.

And, although it's been unsaid to this point, like my running this blog will also be quasi-dormant until work calms itself.