Last Thursday, I ran a solid tempo that had me feeling good about my plans for the Waterfront 10-Miler. It wasn’t perfect, but considering that I’d done a tough workout (including my first-ever mile repeats) earlier in the week that left me more fatigued than I’d been prepared for, I was happy with my times and ready to show up and take down a couple of goals with a sub-90-minute first race of the year.
And then, a few hours later, we learned that Pete’s grandmother had died. A good deal of what happened in the couple of days that followed doesn’t feel like it’s my story to tell — which is why this post is about running; three cheers for compartmentalizing — but suffice to say that we wanted to get ourselves to Michigan, and fast. That meant flying a red-eye on Friday, with me coming back on Sunday so I could feed the cats and get back to work while Pete stayed a few days longer.
I slogged through a three-something-mile run in the drizzle on Friday, for my sanity and so I could literally run some errands. I had grand plans of running at the gym on Sunday night when I got home, but those began to slip away as I sat in a teeny tiny airport watching United delay my flight until some unspecified time. (At 6:20 p.m., the website and phone system still said we were leaving at 4:54 p.m. Don’t ask me what the airport said, because it didn’t.) I actually held out a bit of hope all the way to Chicago, when I sprinted the toughest sprint of my life from the F gates to the C gates, bags flying and me screaming “EXCUSE ME EXCUSE ME” while waving my boarding pass like a talisman that would magically get me onto a flight that was supposedly leaving in 10 minutes. But by the time I learned that flight was being delayed on the tarmac for another hour, I decided the airport sprint was my speedwork and ordered myself a gin and tonic.
Somewhere in all of this, I got the crazy idea to just run the 10 miles before work some day this week. Monday was rainy and I had an early meeting, but Tuesday looked good. And I could just run the Waterfront route — which I love and which, more importantly for this plan, doesn’t have many (any?) stoplights — and treat it like a race. That’s how the Fauxterfront 10-Miler was born.
I set everything out the night before, woke up early, and ate my regular pre-race breakfast. I didn’t drink as much water as I normally do, I didn’t run a warm-up mile because I had to schlep my work bag and gym bag to the gym first, and I realized when I got to my “starting line” that I’d left my Gu behind, but everything else was just like it would have been at Waterfront. Except I was alone. And it was a Tuesday.
I set my watch to show only time and average pace, as I plan to at Kaiser, and early on locked into a steady 9:03/mile average. That’s obviously slower than a 90-minute 10-miler but faster than I need to break 2 hours in a half, so I kept with it and planned to speed up at the end. Every so often I clicked over to instant pace if I felt myself slowing down or speeding up, but for the most part I fought that temptation. I did make a bathroom stop at 7.5 after a half-mile of stomach-rumbling, slowing down, and mental debate — “If this were a real race, I’d keep going, right?” — mostly because I finally accepted that I had a whole workday ahead of me and no particular reason to slog through a 2.5-mile sufferfest just to prove I could, but that was the only blip in my race plan.
In fact: My last two miles were two of my fastest (8:55 and 8:38) without feeling like I was pushing too hard. I finished at 1:30:16, which I probably would have kicked myself a bit about in an actual race, but seeing the splits and knowing that at least :10 came from the “stop or don’t stop?” debate I had between the Ferry Building and Pier 39 (and the rest appears to have come from a mile where I got a bit lost, and yes I got lost on an out-and-back, shut up, it was early), it’s cool.
I could not, and will not, run this kind of distance on a work morning all the time. But knowing that I can do it at all gives me hope for marathon training and getting more miles in during the week than I thought possible. (Until the gym starts to catch on. I noticed my first “lockers are for use only when in the building” sign today. I hope I didn’t do that.)
I suppose I’m technically tapering now, something I never quite know how to approach for a half. I tend to smush my previous strategies together into a new Frankenstein’s monster of a schedule every time, and I’m doing that again here. I only have a couple of tough runs left — 8 with a few at race pace over the weekend and maybe one last quick speed session on Tuesday — and otherwise, it’s nothing fancy. I’m tempted to run a 5K on Sunday as the last three race-pace miles of my long run, just to be able to say I officially raced in January, but if I don’t, the Fauxterfront 10-Miler will stand as my race of record by executive decision. My goals, my rules.