We stop for nothing…

…almost.

With my “injury” subsiding more and more everyday my ability to train has followed suit and my miles and intensity have skyrocketed. I have my routine back and without fail I get out and run each and every day. Easy 8 milers, long 20 milers, fast 14 milers, no matter. I get out there and do what needs to be done.

It has been a part of my life for so long that I don’t even really need to plan for the run, as it’s either there the second I’m free from work or it’s waiting as soon as my alarm goes off on the weekends. Running and training is part of my daily routine, even with the hectic schedule Michelle and I have to accomodate sometimes. With her unscripted photography meetings, my full day of work and a toddler to juggle, sometimes things can get a bit crazy. But we manage to work it all out in the end.

Every once in awhile though, there are enough obstacles to really necessitate more focused planning to get in a run, often not in the most ideal conditions.

For instance, this week was a scheduled visit with my son in North Carolina. Michelle and I, sans Noah, were staying in a hotel and I knew I was going to have to fit in a run sometime late in the evening. Turns out, I couldn’t start my runs any earlier than 8 pm. I was holding onto the hope that I might be able to find some open roads nearby to train on, but I quickly realized we were surrounded by heavily trafficked, multi-lane thoroughfares and ominously large corporate box stores. We were effectively marooned on a hotel island in the middle of shark infested capitalist waters, with nowhere to run.

All was not lost though. There was a fitness room in the hotel, and on the chance that I had no where to run, I made sure the hotel had a treadmill before I booked our stay. So the treadmill it was.

I wasn’t thrilled about it, but nothing can get in the way really. So Wednesday night I knocked out 8 mind-numbingly boring miles before turning in for the night. Then came Thursday where I had 14 miles total with 8 miles of marathon goal pace scheduled and although I was fearing the ability to keep up with the hamster wheel, somehow I managed and had a killer sub-mgp workout. My confidence soared. It was then I realized that with our checkout time, I wasn’t going to get my long run in on Saturday and actually had to reschedule it for Friday. So it goes.

And yes, that means I had to do 20 miles on the treadmill. Honestly, I’m quite surprised how I managed to handle it mentally and made it through all 20 unscathed, well, except for a number of pretty gnarly blisters on my sweat-soaked toes. Those closet-sized fitness rooms get hot!

Finally, I knocked out one more 8 mile run the very next morning (So, 28 miles in less than how many hours?) and, quite frankly, I’d be glad to never set foot on a treadmill again. But I know that won’t be the case. So why do I do this really?

Two words: 3 miles. Not just 3 miles….THE three miles…the LAST three miles of a marathon, which, if my fitness develops properly, will be the make or break three miles to qualify for the US Olympic marathon trials. I can run fast for 13.1 miles and I can keep running fast into 18. I  know the last 10k is supposed to be brutal, but I also think I can make it well into that before things start to get ugly. It’s those last three miles that are going to cause me problems and how I handle those problems is going to determine if I make the trials or not. That’s why I’ll run 20 miles on a treadmill If I have to, because I simply can’t afford to miss the necessary training. I’ll suffer now so I can mitigate deeper suffering when it really counts.

There is room for compromise though…to a degree. I have to run every single chance I get and I’ll make every effort to create those chances, but sometimes there are other adventures to be had. Like tomorrow, I won’t be running as I head off into the woods outside of Asheville, NC to tackle the summit of Mt. Mitchell, a 12 mile hike one way, so 24 in two days, over some pretty gnarly terrain. I’m writing this one off as strength training and considering I only had 6 recovery miles  on the training log anyways….I think I’m covered.

These sorts of breaks are few and far between though. To run 26.2 miles at 5:18 a mile takes a sort of dedication that can’t waver or fluxuate too often, lest those pace per miles do the same.

When Michelle told a friend recently that I had to get to the hotel (at 9 at night) to get a run in, the friend responded, “That’s some dedication.” In my head I replied, “It’s not really dedication as it is a demand…of those last 3 miles.”

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