It has been several weeks now since I DNF'd at HAT. In that time, I've been searching for balance, peace and consistency.
A few days following HAT, I took an excursion to Black Moshannon State Park (and Forest) for a couple of days of hiking, running being in the woods and relaxation. I had a completely refreshing experience and will look to work more local getaways like this into my life. To me what is spoken about nature being a recharger is true.
Initially, I was going to take it much easier following my DNF than the reality has been. Sure I took all of the days before Black Moshannon off but since then, I've been relentlessly pounding out the miles. This has been good and focused. Some days, it is a solo long run. Others it has been a medium morning run followed by a speed session on the treadmill during my lunch break at work. (I tend to eat at my desk so I am not running on empty. Even recently been treating myself to some Entemann's Pop'ems.)
What has been hardest is racing. For whatever reason, the early part of this year has been a little more empty of races. Like I said before, I'd done more in the past. Considering, I use small short races as speed work and a mental training session, this has weighed on me. Thankfully, racing season is picking up somewhat. Last weekend gave me plenty of options which I took advantage of doing 5Ks on both Saturday and Sunday. Sunday became a must after what I felt was a subpar 17:15 at Kristin's Krusade. Sure, I ran 4 miles to the race from home with gear (and uphill to boot) but I was aiming more for a 16:45. Didn't feel gassed but more flat. (After I did run back home too.) Sunday went much better but was way harder. I ran a 16:25 at Healthy Trails (I drove to this one) and did a 3 1/2 mile warm-up. However, I eeked it out by 3 seconds over second. It pushed me to where I nearly threw up at the finish. Would have I felt that way had I not done so much the day prior? Hard to tell but I was feeling better about the faster effort. In both efforts, I managed to come away with the victory.
Yes, I was pleased as punch to come off a weekend of positives with wins and fast efforts and holding off someone 17 years my junior. In wanting to keep the train going, I planned on racing again this weekend. With Easter being on Sunday, that meant only a handful of Saturday races. I wanted to be a little more low-key and zoned in on a race over in NJ at the Riverwinds complex.
In short, it did not go as hoped. But I should have seen the writing on the wall. I have been sleeping poorly as of late and last night was probably the worst of it. I was up essentially from 4:30 on with only minor cat-naps for the during of my slumber, Not exactly restful. And you ever get that vibe somewhere that hits your spidey sense? Something felt out of sorts.
Despite running faster than last week, I only was able to manage 2nd. Sure second is not a bad placing but the way it happened was something I was not physically or mentally prepared for. A mile into this race and I'm barely hanging on first and my body is lacking any other gear. Immediately my mind went to, not another week like this (referencing last week's narrow win), and while I was done. I was proceeded to be passed and mentally I had no response. (Winner did go sub 16...don't have the official times.) (This also brings me to 4 wins and 4 non-wins aka losses for the year. The latter matching the entire total for 2016.)
So instead of building some positive consistency with getting what I needed out of today's 5K, I didn't and that right now has a bit of a dark cloud lingering. Sure, time wise it has been good but each effort has not been a smooth affair creating a lack of steadiness that I am searching for. What this means for my plans in the next couple of weeks, I'm not entirely sure at this particular moment. All I do know is that I will get back on that horse and try again.