Saturday's Classic 10K, part of the Grand Prix Series, was more like a shuffle that landed me at least 10 minutes from my PR. This is a downhill course on pavement, it should have been an opportunity to set a new PR. Instead it was an opportunity to dwell on the merits of listening to your body. When a handful of Advil doesn't make a dent in the nearly nauseating jolt that shoots through your right leg with every step, your body is no longer politely requesting that you reconsider your weekly mileage. No, this was my body screaming: "Stop running, you moron!" Turns out the mysterious jolt may actually be a stress-fractured femur.
Here's a word to the wise - when your race times get slower and slower as the season goes on, or your turn-over is pathetic, or a dull ache just doesn't go away, take it as a sign. It's a little warning that maybe something isn't quite right. Don't respond like me - don't tell yourself that you need to train harder, longer, higher, faster, and steeper to solve the problem. Now, as I plan my third "Tour de Zoo" bike ride this week, I realize that backing off from sub 8-minute miles to almost 10 minute miles on my long runs in a matter of two months or less is so obviously not a sign that I wasn't working hard enough. See, biking and swimming are boring sports that allow me plenty of time to think about this conundrum. I never gave myself the benefit of the doubt, never stopped to think that maybe something really hurt. Instead, I called myself a wuss and tried to make up for it in mileage. Dear readers: don't take this path. You don't want to find yourself 3 weeks and 4 days out from the Ascent wondering if you'll finish it at all, let alone touch your 4:00 goal. Like many of you, I've been dreaming about the Ascent for years and training seriously since I moved to the Springs in February - that's a lot of hours and miles and blisters and scraped knees dedicated to one race. Trust me, it's pretty jarring to know the experience you've worked this hard for is in jeopardy.
If you read this blog regularly you know how lucky I feel to get out on the trails and do what I love. Nonethless, I also take it for granted. Waking up in the morning knowing I can't run makes the day seem so long and uneventful. An uphill bike ride is monotony, an uphill run is, well...an adventure.