I would spare the personal journey of last 7 years and talk about running. I took a sabbatical from running after running Boston Marathon 2012 (Oh, how I wanted to write a race report mentioning that Brunette at Wellesley College I kissed during my run). I lived in Denver during Sept 2012 till August 2016 and while I enjoyed hiking/skiing, I stopped running almost completely. In total I believe I ran less than 200 miles in those 4 years.
I moved back to Houston for work in August of 2016. When I showed up early morning in Memorial Park in mid August to meet up with Natalie and Paul for a run, I felt like we were running 8 minute/mile for our first mile and too fast and Natalie corrected that actually it is 9:30 min/mile and I should shut up and trying to keep up. Wow, what a difference 4 years of not running makes ;)
From August 2016-January 2017. I tried to get back in running slowly and I worked my way up-to a half marathon in 1:40:xx. I lost motivation to run again after Aramco Half Marathon and so much so that I signed up for Bayou City Classic and didn't even show up to run in March, 2017. That was a wake up call but out of habit I always hit a good snooze after a wake up call. Something needed to be done. It's not that I like running (only a little bit) but I like talking about running (running data is fascinating) and hanging out with runners. I ran Bellaire Trolley Run 5k as a calibration run (20:45) and decided to start training again.
In May 2017, I started running 50 day/Every day/At least 2 miles challenge to build my base. I ran every single mile during that phase at relaxed pace (8:35-8:45 min/mile). Even though I wasn't doing any speedwork my 5k time in June dropped to 20:30. I finished the 50 day challenge and averaged about 35 miles/week for 7 weeks. After June, I scaled back running to 3-4 days a week but still averaging about 30 miles/week. In July, I focused on getting some threshold pace running (also loosely called Tempo) during my long runs with a goal to run sub 20 minute 5k. I ran Outriggers 5k in August and finished it in 19:52. This is why I like running, If you are willing to put optimal work the results are always there.
I got excited and thought (ha!), maybe I can still run decent after all these years. I signed up for the Harra Fall series with the goal that I should train so I can keep my pace same for each subsequent race. The idea was to extend ability to run same pace from 10 miler to half to 25k to 30k. Anyone who knows me must have noticed that I don't like to run big mileage. 30 miles/week is my sweet spot with 4 times a week of running. I tried to add few threshold pace workouts in those miles and here were the results leading up-to the 30k.
1) A hilly half marathon (3rd Sept, 2017): 7:17 min/mile (optimal weather)
2) 10 miler (8th Oct, 2017): 7:08 min/mile (warm and humid)
3) Houston Half (29th Oct, 2017): 7:00 min/mile (optimal cold weather)
4) HMSA 25k (26th Nov, 2017): 7:06 min/mile (optimal weather, Allen pkwy underpasses)
5) Sugarland 30k (10th Dec, 2017): 7:07 min/mile (optimal weather, flat fast course)
Now, that truly seems like a decent progress and I felt pretty content. But, what is a training season without heart break, right? It turns out that I pulled a calf muscle during the 30k race. I know myself and running well enough that I won't blame that pulled calf muscle on a random event. I believe it was due to racing aggressively in a long (30k) race with not enough mileage base (30 miles/week). However, I took it in stride and stopped running all together for 5 weeks to give it enough time to heal so I can attempt finishing the Houston Marathon.
Houston marathon is the slowest marathon I have run till date because after mile 18th, lack of training and no running for past 5 weeks caught up with me. I struggled and switched to run/walk method to finish it in 3:54. However, it was quite enjoyable experience because I knew that at least I am not injured any more and I can focus on training again. In the excitement of post marathon rush, I did do few stupid long runs at aggressive pace with Lauren and Keltie (?) but that will end now as I am focused on giving structured training one more go.
My goal is to start doing track workout on Tuesday with John Warren's group at Rice University and keep running EVERY other run around 8:30 pace. Let's see what 12 weeks of speedwork can do to my training (end of May). I plan to run few 5k's this season till early August to calibrate the fitness. This might actually be fun :)
PS: "Things I overheard while talking to myself" is one of the part of the autobiography of the famous actor Alan Alda. The other part is called "Never have your dog stuffed". If anyone is looking for some good reading then I will recommend that.