"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.”

- George S. Patton, U.S. Army General, 1912 Olympian

Monday, March 22, 2010

Rottweilers, more 4-letter words and a new PR...all in one day

March is one of the better months of the year in my opinion. The NCAA tournament is the most perfect postseason in all of sports, NBA playoff races are heating up, there are zero NFL or MLB games to speak of (Note to ESPN: You can read that as a plea to not show me Mel Kiper's face every morning) and the sun is starting to shine more regularly. On Wednesday last week I was even slightly...get ready for it...warm. Happy day. One of the runners I follow closely has had terrible weather where he is in the east, but has persevered through blizzards, wind and all things cold as he has prepped for his first marathon of the year. Kudos to him. His descriptions of the weather in his area cause me to keep my complaining to a minimum.

I set out to run a 13.1 half-marathon distance for my most recent Saturday long run. My feet were wrapped in my new shoes, a handful of dates was tucked into my race belt and my music was cued up. And then I walked out the door and my Ipod died. Two hours on a Saturday is a precious thing around my house, especially to my wife, so rather than wait for my Ipod to charge, I gave it a lecture on responsibility and threw it on the counter. I hadn't run without music in a while so I wasn't sure if it was going to be the most boring 13 miles of my life or not. About 5 1/2 miles later, I was glad.

The route I've been running on Saturdays takes me out of town on a two-lane highway into the farmland of the Willamette Valley. It's beautiful. I get a great view of Mt. Hood to the east, the coastal range to the west and nothing but green fields in between. There are a few houses along the way, mostly set back from the road. I've seen a variety of different animals along the way - horses, cows, a few cats, chickens (there were two standing on the side of the road this week -- I thought maybe I was going to be able to definitively answer the age-old question about why they would cross. Unfortunately they just stood there). It's not uncommon to hear dogs barking. I never see them though, they're always behind a fence somewhere and I pay little attention to them.

I was cruising along, 5 1/2 miles in, feel really good about things, when I heard a dog bark. I instantly knew it was a large dog by the sound. But as the barking continued, I could also tell it was getting closer. As I glanced over my shoulder I saw a huge black rottweiler tearing across the grass towards me, probably about 50 yards away. The words flying through my head are neither speakable nor printable, but needless to say my pace increased significantly. The dog closed the distance quickly and with about 10 yards of separation between us and me looking for anything to defend myself with I passed a metal post on the side of the road. I glanced over my shoulder again and found the dog slamming on its breaks at this post. With the adrenaline pumping I wasn't sure what do to -- should I turn my back on it and keep sprinting? Turn around and face it while walking away slowly? I opted for the former and made great time for a few minutes.

I finished my run in 1:41:53, which is 7 full minutes below my half-marathon distance PR. Like last week, I felt good all the way to the end and felt like I could have kept going. I have to keep telling myself that it's a process though. I have a schedule. I put my trust in it. I want to walk to the starting line in Newport on June 5th knowing I've done what I need to do to be successful. And though I deviate from my schedule a little bit (adding fractions of miles during the weekday runs and a mile or so on Saturdays) Saturday was not the day to run 26.2 miles. I pleased that I finished at a 7:45 pace and wasn't winded, overly-tired or, on this day, mauled.

One issue that did arise is hunger. I had a few dates along the way, but at about 90 minutes in I started to really get hungry. I'm going to explore this more in the coming days, but my goals for the next few long runs are to try to replicate what I've been doing while at the same time getting some additional food in me to keep me from feeling hungry.

All in all another good week of training. I'm please how my body is responding as I start to enter the longer runs of my training. I continue to work hard at keeping my diet clean, my mind sharp, my thoughts positive and body rested.

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