I haven't run a PR in years. My marathon PR was set in 2013 on a pretty hilly course in Raleigh, NC. In 2012, I ran the time that is my current half marathon PR for the first time in Athens, GA; I came away from the Houston Half in 2015 with the exact same time, down to the second. I have been through excellent training blocks where I felt like I was primed for a big race only to find myself sick on race day. I have been to the darkest corners of the injury cave when my knee completely locked up on me in 2016 and required a surgery and complete training reset. For about 2 and a half years, I've kept the reigns pulled pretty tight in terms of mileage. I've pushed myself here and there, but I haven't really trained properly. And, of course, my times haven't been what they once were.
Training with Johnny and the ZAP guys has been a huge part of my return to proper fitness. It's easier to show up when there are a bunch of other guys working hard every day.
So I'm no spring chicken. I'm almost halfway through my 38th year. Time to slow down, right? Not just yet. This isn't a post about accepting the fact that I ran some awesome times in my earlier days and now I can find other things to be happy about with my running. I'm not there yet. I know there's still some more speed in the tank and I haven't reached my lifetime potential. This IS a post about me deciding to say, "Fuck it," and to just do the work every day to get where I know I can. That's where I am right now, just doing the work. And I'm starting to see some results that are telling me I made the right choice.
Let's rewind a bit. I asked Johnny to be my coach starting back in September. To that point, I was pretty inconsistent. A few 75-80 mile weeks here and there, but nothing that would set me up for real success. When I had my surgery in 2016, the doctor told me I should be cautious with the volume since my knee is a pretty big mess of arthritis. But, as I tested out a little more volume here and there, things never seemed to get worse or more painful. Sure, my knee always looks swollen and doesn't function properly. But that's the baseline. It doesn't seem to really be impacted by mileage. Given that I'm a guy that runs MUCH better when I run MORE, just running a lot is something that I really need to run better workouts and races. I asked to be pushed and Johnny has responded. I'm at the point now where I have been consistently running around 90 miles a week and I've been nailing long workouts. It's been a grind, there have been a bunch of tired mornings and crappy-feeling easy/recovery miles, but I've been committed to consistency day after day. I knew this all along, but this has been an important reminder that good training (and therefore good racing to follow) is a series of little correct decisions that add up over time. It's never about one big day, it's always about many little days.
The Speed is In There, It's Just Hiding for Now
It's coming back a little bit at a time.
So far, I've lined up to race a couple of times. Despite a heavy training load and a minimal taper, I was able to place a solid 16th at the Richmond Half Marathon on 11/10 with a time of 1:10:58. ONE SECOND off my PR. I didn't have the best race, though, getting caught in the wind for a good chunk of the race and never finding a pack to work with. It was a consistent run and I felt like there was more in the tank. Last week, I ran the Atlanta Track Club Thanksgiving Day 5k and placed 4th. I got out with a solid 5:02 opening mile but then sorta got stuck in low gear from there. I hit the 5k mark in 15:55-ish (new course was long!). This was on the heels of a very solid progressive 20-miler 4 days prior and 13 miles in a single run on Tuesday before racing Thursday. I know the fitness is in there and improving every day, it's just hiding under all the hard work for now.
Next up: HOUSTON!