After my disappointing finish at the Rocket City Marathon, I continued training as I had planned for December -- slowly building up mileage for the week following the race, then taking a 10-day break from running while I travelled out west for the holidays.
The hope was that I would return home refreshed and ready to start working toward my next goal, a fast half-marathon.
However, my first few runs upon returning were not exactly "refreshing." They were actually very hard. At times I struggled to maintain even an 8-minute pace, which is supposed to be an "easy" run for me. Could I really have gotten that out of shape in just 10 days?
I don't think so. Instead, I think I probably just had a cold. For about two and a half years, since I started running seriously again, I've not had the flu or even a cold to speak of. Even this time around, I didn't have a lot of cold symptoms, just a couple sniffles. But when I tried to run, my body ached. I had to slow down. Last Saturday I wanted help my friend Brian by running the last 8 miles of his final long run before he runs the Charleston Marathon January 20. He was doing great, running a 7:30-7:40 pace, but after about 5 miles, I just couldn't keep up and had to let him finish up on his own.
Finally on Sunday I managed a 10-miler at an 8:13 pace. By Wednesday I was able to run the DART loop at a 7:39 pace while keeping up a conversation the whole time. Today I ran 4.2 miles at a 7:40 pace, including a 7:21 on a steadily uphill mile.
Why just 4 miles? Because tomorrow I'll be competing in a race, the Salem Lakeshore Frosty 25K. If I was in peak condition, I'd be trying for at least a sub-7-minute pace in this race, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to dial it back quite a bit. The smart thing to do would be to run with some of the folks doing the 50K event. My friend Chas is trying for a sub-4-hour PR, which is roughly a 7:40 pace, so maybe I'll just stick with him for a while.
At least I finally seem to be getting to the point where running feels good again, so hopefully next week I can do some speed work as I start to prepare for the Myrtle Beach Half next month.
Details of today's workout are below.