I've really been focusing on the mental side of training and in particular running for the past year. I learned a new lesson on Saturday. Acknowledgment. It wasn't until mile 9 running up my favorite .54 mile long hill, nicknamed half mile hill aka the spillway, aka I hate this effin hill, more on that later.
The run started off hard, hadn't run since track on tuesday and was still recovering from strep throat which I refused to acknowledge until I almost passed out and/or hurled 20 minutes into a workout on wednesday, so my legs were complaining about the 10+ minute pace. We hit the out, or downhill, part of half mile hill and my ankle started acting up, I walked a bit, stretched it out and kept going. I guess I was complaining about a bunch of things, mostly the humidity, because Frank, the usual chief complainer, said I was complaining a lot today and he would try to not complain as much since I was doing such a good job. I acknowledged he was right and sought to put an end to it. Luckily we were starting the S hill and it would be too hard to complain for a while. Frank was doing 8, so we left him at the water spicket and continued on. I was running with Mark and told him I didn't feel like I had it today so if he wanted to go faster it was ok to leave me behind after the turn around 1 mile ahead. He said he needed to save some for the spillway anyway so he wasn't going to. I just figured he was being nice as he had been running a few steps ahead of me the whole time. At the turn around there is a long gradual uphill back to the water spicket of about a mile and we were trailing a pair of carrots that were running just a bit slower than us, so our gradual reeling in of them kept us at a nice even pace and I started to notice my legs feeling better.
I downed gel number two as we hit the water and the ground leveled out. I had water on me, but Mark stopped to get water and I kept going thinking he would catchup quickly. I slowed to take in the gel and fluids and allow him to catch up and the carrots started gaining on me again. At this point I thought it would be good time to wring out my shirt and after wards felt 2lbs lighter and much better. I thought it was real odd that at mile 7 I would feel better than mile 2, but I wasn't going to let that bother me. We noticeably picked up the pace as every time I would even up with Mark we would speed ahead. At one point I said "hey, just because I catch up to you doesn't mean you can speed up". He said he just liked to surge when he felt like it, then slow down to let me catch up. I should have noticed at this point, but I didn't, that he was having a bit harder time as he was using more hand gestures communicate and less talking, where I was talking more. When we hit the back or downhill part of the S hill, I let off the brakes and just ran ahead comfortably allowing gravity to do the work. I thought he was right behind me so I tried to stay out ahead and do some pace work since he had been leading the past 8 miles. When we got to the spillway, he stopped and said I would have to go on ahead because he was out of gas. I asked if he needed water or anything and he said he just needed to walk a bit so I started up half mile hill.
I got about half way, my form was off I was running crooked and labored, breathing was all over the place, I just wanted to get to the top so the pain would stop. That's when it hit me, I asked myself, "Does this really hurt?" I mean pain, sure it was hard, but was there any pain or was my brain just trying to fool me into taking it easy? I kept running, I thought about it and no, there was no pain. This realization did something to me, I straightened up, my form was back to normal, my breathing evened out and I sped up. I acknowledged that it was hard, made some adjustments, and it got easier. It was all perception, because I thought it was so hard and painful my form got hosed, once I acknowledged it and fixed my form and breathing I could once again run efficiently without the perception of pain. I finished off the hill and ran the rest of the .4 miles back to the start and ended with a 1 minute negative split for the out and back route.