Last week I had a run test on the schedule. I had already rocked my swim test and done well on my bike test back in November. To me, though, the run test is the most important. I've seen a lot of improvement on my run in the last month and I wanted it to shine through during my test. However, it's been a long time since I've done a run test and I've not done one without a race or not in warm weather. Thusfar, this has not been a kind winter so I decided to move my test to the treadmill. My goal for some time has to be able to run a race of any kind (except a one mile race) at a sub-7:00 pace. I thought the run test would be a perfect opportunity to give it a try. When I started the test, however, the treadmill seemed to be flying at a 7:30 pace and just six minutes into the test, I began to panic. How in the world was I going to be able to hold this pace or faster for 20 minutes? And just like that, I hit the stop button and data was lost. Crap! I restarted my watch and tried again. This time I made it a whopping two minutes. At this point there were tears and the day was done.
Two days later, the weather was still not kind, but I decided to give the run test a-go outside. It was bitterly cold with a wind chill around 11 degrees and wind at 15-20 mph. I started my warm up and I immediately knew it was going to be a challenging day. I don't know if it was the days of travel for Christmas, or sitting around a lot during the holiday, or just all the extra clothes, but I just felt like my legs wouldn't "fire". Every step seemed to be work. I chose the flattest part of the neighborhood to do the test, but in all honesty, it wasn't that flat and the wind made it seem like I was constantly running uphill. The first 5+ minutes of the test went okay and my pace was hovering around 7:05 and my heart rate was high. But soon I started to panic again. The pace was dropping, my legs weren't cooperating, and I just didn't feel good. As I came by the house I actually thought about stopping. I finished the test, but I didn't find it successful. The results, to me, were disgusting.
Coach agreed that this wasn't a good test and now I've got to try again. And this time she mandated it be on a treadmill. Although I know this is a heart rate test and pace isn't that important, I still feel I should be doing better than the last two attempts have been. All of this lead to a discussion with Dave. Am I tough enough?
Since August 29th, when my attempt at Ironman ended with a trip to the medical center, all I have thought about is "did I sabotage my Ironman?" Did I give up? Did I really work as hard as I could have to finish the race? My parents, my friends, my teammates, Dave, and Coach have all stated it was the circumstances of the day and the weather, but I trained all summer in that heat, and I honestly believe I was well hydrated coming off that bike--7 bottles of sports drink and 5 bottles of water.
Dave asked me when I was struggling on the treadmill last week, when was the last time I had to work for a race? I really had to think about that. The last time I remember really working for a race? Probably the Columbus Marathon 2003 when I was trying to qualify for Boston for the first time, I fell behind the pace leaders, threw myself a pity party, and then finally pulled my shit together and caught back up with that pace team to qualify. It's been a long time since I've had to be in that position. Don't get me wrong. I work really hard in practice. But my races have been easy. Boston 2009 when I ran a 3:29 might have been the easiest marathon I've ever run. But when things haven't been easy, I've given up. The Nike Women's Marathon in 2009 is a prime example. I'm just not sure I know how to be tough anymore.
I've set my sights very high in 2011. It's an important year for me. I've got big goals and big dreams and I have to achieve them. Physically I know it's possible. Mentally, I might need a little work....