Going to Meet the Man With The Hammer

Paul Fournel’s writing is now on my “must read” list.  Just one quote, heck, one concept I found in random googling really caught me this fall.

I want to go searching for the man with the hammer.

I’ve spent years dialing back my run speed, safely running slowly to increase distance, to increase stamina, to complete half ironmans and marathons, to stay in zone 2 or below, and shockingly enough, my legs adapted.  My pace slowed.  I was able to go further, but even on shorter runs, my pace and turnover became laughable.

This marathon cycle, I realized that the other component of “lots of easy miles” has to be “a little speedwork”.  Just that one day of making my legs move 5k speed or faster for a short amount of time really helped me figure out that I’m not a terrible runner, I’ve just not been training properly to give my legs the speed to go fast.

So, with this awesome base under me for the marathon, now that my legs feel recovered, I am prepared to meet the man with the hammer.

So, way back in the day (hi there, 2010!), I had I set a big scary goal of a sub-2 hour half marathon.  I trained really, really well and mostly hit my paces spot on, but then I got stupidly sick the week of the race.  I probably shouldn’t have run, but I shoved down some behind-the-counter mucinex and got through the race in 2:19, which was about what one could expect on a hilly course, when I was taking cough drops like shot blocks.

I gave the 13.1 distance a-go one more time in the fall, banking on Olympic Tri endurance + 3 weeks of specific training, and got myself a nice shiny 2:08 PR.

I haven’t race-raced a half since.  I’ve run the distance a lot, but it’s either been a training run, off the bike, pacing someone else, just as a fun run, or sometimes, just because it’s Thursday.  I do believe it’s time to change that, if only to have some more recent data for calculations so McMillian doesn’t tell me I should be running a marathon in over 5 hours because my best half in the last 3 years, which was part of a 20 mile run, was 2:25.  Heck, my half marathon split at the marathon was around 2:20 (and that was running pretty comfortably).

So, while I didn’t think I was ready to run as fast as I did during this cycle to chase a 4:40 marathon, I started this cycle CERTAIN I’m not ready to train to run as fast as I need to go to sub-2.

But y’know what?  I’m not sure how fast I’m ready to run.  I surprised myself with by holding 10 minute miles over double digits fairly effortlessly, nailing my speedwork paces spot on, and finding two 5 mile tempos with sub-9 minute miles as planned.  I don’t know where my limits lie unless I go out to meet the man with the hammer.  So that’s what I’ve been doing – spending a short ~4 week cycle doing some stupidly fast (for me) run training, and then toe the line at 3M Half Marathon to see if I can outrun that jerk.

I’ve already signed up, and I’m not wasting a 100$ late entry fee on prancing comfortably to the finish.  I don’t plan on trying to run safe, I want to run for at the very least, a PR (2:08:07).  I want to have photos of the worst pain face I’ve ever made in my life at the finish.  I want to go out aggressively, and see if I can hold on.

A goal – 1:59:59.

B goal – PR (sub-2:08:08)

C goal – to have given everything I have at finish

I’ll be happy with anything, A, B, or C.

Regarding my A goal, 9:09 is a terrifyingly fast pace for my brain for 13.1 miles, but this first race of 2014 is to see what my legs and lungs have got.  That’s what this training cycle and race will tell – how fast the man with the hammer runs, and if I can beat him to the finish line.

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