The Death of Speed

While in southern Texas over Fourth of July weekend, just missing a hurricane and eating more BBQ than I thought possible, I had an epiphany: speed is not my thing.

We were visiting a close friend in McAllen, TX July 1-6. I had full intentions of keeping up my Summer of Speed training while on vacation, but one night in central AC and I couldn't wake myself up before 9am.  It was great and horrible at the same time.  For all the luxuries that New York City has for some reason central AC still hasn't caught on--even in my current apartment building which is only three years old.  If you have been to southern Texas, you know that you need to get out there at dawn if you're going to do any kind of physical activity, so 9am was not an option.

For a couple nights we stayed on South Padre Island and being across the street from the beach was too much to ignore.  Our first morning there I fought off the siren song of central AC and forced myself out the door by 7:30...barefoot.  That's right.  Not only was I going to run on the beach--which I've never done--I was also going to do it barefoot.  I figured when else would I have a chance to do this?

I stashed my flip-flops under the boardwalk in hopes that no one would find them.  The sun was bright and pretty high already, but the strong breeze and reduced temps left over from the hurricane made it downright tolerable.  I set off going south for three miles and then returning, for a total of six miles.  I didn't set any speed requirement since I've never run barefoot or on sand before.

The sand was fine, compact, and mostly free of shells/debris; ideal for running.  I noticed immediately that my heels had to go further down during each stride and that my calves were stretching out.  But after the first half-mile I was totally down with the form and stride adjustments.

By the turnaround I could feel something on the bottom of my feet, but I figured that I hadn't stepped on anything.  At mile four I stopped and finally checked my feet.  Sure enough I hadn't stepped on anything, but I had managed to form three blisters on my feet.  I took a bit of a walking break and then managed to run for the last 1.25 miles.

After that run I felt great, better than any of my runs in the past month.  It was a long, sweaty, sustained effort.  While I didn't do any sexy speediness, I felt like I got a real workout.

That night I mentioned to Wifey that I wasn't really feeling the whole Summer of Speed thing.  I wasn't digging the workouts.  I couldn't find races.  I missed the long runs.  And I had a nagging fear that I wouldn't be ready for an October Marathon if I was running 5Ks all summer.  Now, don't get me wrong.  During Marathon training I love speed workouts.  Track repeats, tempo runs, hill repeats--I love doing them all when they offer a break from the long slow runs that are also baked into Marathon training.  Doing them exclusively turns out to not be so much fun.

In talking to Wifey I realized that I should just drop the Summer of Speed and focus instead on a Fall Marathon.  It would getting me doing the runs I want to do and get me back on the 50 State track.  It sounded like a plan (once again, I don't see the most obvious answer).

Now, you might remember/recall that I was planning on running the Virginia Beach RnR Half on Labor Day and then the Mount Desert Island Marathon in October.  Well, over the past couple of months both of those have fallen through.  We were going to go to Virginia Beach with the family for a weeklong vacation, but scheduling and costs prevented that from happening.  So I was going to save this race for another year.  But then I realized that Virginia and Maine were basically the only remaining states within driving distance.  All other states are pretty much fly only.  So I planted the bug in my mind (and Wifey's) to do a "destination" Marathon.

A couple cities came to mind--someone even suggested Denver--but once Wifey said Portland, Oregon, my ears perked up.  I looked up the race and started getting excited.  We've wanted to go to Portland for a while now and a Marathon near our Anniversary would be a perfect excuse to go.  On reading further it looked like a great race that wasn't too big plus there is a big wine region next door, the ocean an hour away, Mt. St. Helen across the state line, and a slew of quirky hotels--I was sold.

So my next race will be the Portland Marathon on Oct, 10 (that's 10/10/10) after which we're going to enjoy a week's worth of vacation involving lots of drinking and an active volcano.  Hurray!


The Laminator said...

Sounds fantastic, SRod! 10/10/10 is an awesome day for marathons, no? I'll be running in Chicago while you'll be running Portland. Fantastic.

I also know what you mean about speed training. It's not fun if they are an end to themselves. But as part of a marathon training plan, they are productive and fun to do.

Jess said...

Your "lack of speed" is a lot speedier than my speediest!

Adam said...

McAllen, TX? Jeeze, you get to go to all of the exotic places. :)

Too bad to hear about the summer of speed. BUT, at least you have a new goal. 101010 or bust!