Nothing like Mother Nature to throw a wrench into long holiday weekend plans.
I was set to have my final long run - 13 miles - before taper starts for Fox Cities on Saturday. The weatherman said there was a chance of showers on Saturday, but it wouldn't be until the afternoon. So did all the pre-long run stuff on Friday night that I usually do and went to bed at a somewhat reasonable time.
Well when 5:15 rolled around, I was not only greeted by the buzzing of my alarm, but also a huge crack of thunder, so much lightning flashing that I could have been confused and thought it was 5:15 in the afternoon and the text message alert sound from my phone.
"WTF? Do we have a contingency plan? Breakfast now, run tomorrow AM? Lightning and thunder."
After a brief, half-asleep text message phone tree with my running buddies Peggy, Myriah and Amy, it was a no-brainer. We're going back to sleep.
So I did. And I eventually woke up to sunny skies, a guilty feeling about skipping the run and then was blasted with the humidity. But plans were in place to get the run in Sunday morning.
We met up at the park - minus Myriah, who's been sidelined with some knee pain - and let me tell you. We were rewarded for waiting 24 hours. Some light cloud cover, no humidity and temperatures in the mid-50s! Guys, it was actually a little chilly! Loved it.
I ran with Peggy, we talked race strategy, general life stuff and started to make tentative plans for Ironman spectating. Jeff rode along side us for portions of the run and offered good advice. I was feeling great.
And then I hit Mile 10 and my left knee started getting cranky. It's been happening every so often since I banged it mid-fall from the Berlin Walls at Tough Mudder. I'm also pretty sure the crankiness is my body's way of reminding me my shoes need to be replaced. The pair I was wearing Sunday had about 350 miles on them and it was time to start breaking in the new pair for race day last week, but with limited runs (one 7-miler) I didn't start last week.
So the last three miles were a bit of a struggle. The pace slowed down a bit. A few brief stretch breaks just to try to get the tightness worked out. But there were also some mental battles in my head. Self-doubt crept in. Worries about the half marathon in two weeks and if I'll be able to pull out the kind of performance I want since I feel like I haven't had that one great long run this training cycle.
And all the negative thoughts? Jeff did the best he could to banish the negativity as he was riding next to me. Bluntly told me that those thoughts were a load of bulls&$t and that I've made the strides in training this time around and I'll be able to hit the goal. And when it wasn't coming from Jeff it was coming out of Peggy's mouth.
Basically they told me exactly what I needed to hear to get that little bit of confidence back that I needed in order to push through those final miles. And it was reinforced when I finished the run and hit stop on the Garmin. 13.7 miles in just over 2:35. And that includes the drop in pace, struggles with the knee and a few walking breaks in the final 3 miles.
Bring on the taper. Less than 2 weeks.