For the first time in a long time, I’m voluntarily not training for a spring marathon. After I PRed Two Cities in November and then the Berkeley half a few weeks thereafter, I didn’t think to myself well ho hum gee let’s just not do anything in the first part of 2017. Instead, I just figured that in time, I’d figure something out and would enjoy running for running’s sake. Intuitive training or utter indecision, I’m not really sure, but it has seemed like the right choice so far.
In lieu of racing a spring marathon, I’ve instead decided to take a big leap of faith and try to race the short stuff with Wolfpack this spring on the PA circuit. Wolfpack is a USATF-registered running club, and the PA (Pacific Association) circuit is basically a series of races throughout the Bay Area and beyond — some as far afield as Redding or Sacramento — that other USATF-registered run clubs run and try to accrue points. My impression is that you can think of it as going to a track invitational, where a bunch of different school teams are competing against each other and are trying to accumulate as many points as possible to win the meet, except that our “meets” are various races (that are open to everyone, btw) and that we accrue points over an entire season before deciding the winner rankings. The other difference is that the teams aren’t school-based; I think they’re based either in geography (Wolfpack out of the south bay, Impalas out of SF (I think)) or companies (Strava). Spring is road racing, and autumn is cross-country, and I’ve never done either with the team, so I’m pretty excited for it. There are some incredibly fast women and men on my team — who also happen to be pretty fantastic human beings — so I’m looking forward to the season and to seeing folks more regularly.
The race distances in the spring and early summer include everything from a 1-miler all the way up to a half-marathon, and some of the distances we’ll be racing I haven’t actually raced in veritable eons (hello, 10 miles and 10k). It should be fun and challenging in a sadistic, why-do-I-do-this-to-myself sort of way. We all find strange things that bring us joy, right? Whatever floats (rocks, shakes, makes you feel like you’re going to get thrown overboard) your boat, I suppose.
In the meantime, running has been going really well, and for once in my life, I’m revelling in not really having a tight plan at the moment. I finished January with about 235 miles in the bank — just shy of my highest-volume month in 2016, when I was in the thick of training for Modesto — and I’ve been feeling fantastic. For me, in this proverbial “season of life” with the young kiddos at home, that’s a respectable volume. I think all but one week this year has been 50+ miles, which is somewhat mind-boggling because a) I peaked at 50+ training for Two Cities last fall, and I did that volume for precisely one week; b) when I did it in the fall, I felt great but definitely felt more fatigued; and c) it was with much greater intentionality during marathon training than what I’m doing now. It’s funny. I didn’t really plan for the year to start out this way, but I’ll gladly (read: enthusiastically) take it.
It’s easy to get bogged down in the statistics about the miles, speed, elevation, or whatever else, but it’s all ultimately futile if the miles aren’t healthy or if you’re digging yourself into the ground. So far, happily, that hasn’t been the case. It doesn’t make for great blog reading — everything is wonderful! yay, running! yay, life! yay, yay, yay! — but eh. That’s alright. All of the miles I’ve posted this year have been healthy and fun, and I really can’t ask for much more than that. More often than not, the miles are easy or easier — my favorite paces — though I’ve thrown in one tempo run nearly every week (I’m up to a whopping 4 miles there; I believe in the slow build for speed and intensity) for some variety and to teach my legs how to go again. Tempo stuff is what I usually find to be the most challenging, if for no other reason than I get into my own head and self-sabotage, but it’s a work in progress.
I don’t ever dare say that this stuff is easy, but it seems like things are clicking, and it makes me excited for this spring and training for the SF full in July. We’ll get there when we get there. If you want to call this period “base building,” that is probably an accurate statement. I’ll call it “getting ready to get gritty.” I think grittiness is an apt attribute that one should aspire to cultivate for racing, so that’s what I’m going with here.
Other random stuff not related to running:
Reading: I think it was way back in November, but I finally finished The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Within the past week, I just finished Timothy Caulfield’s Is Gwenyth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?; Thomas Friedman’s Thank You For Being Late; and Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime. Though they were all different in tone and topic, they were all really excellent. I’ve just started reading Daniel Lieberman’s The Story of the Human Body and Carrie Fisher’s The Princess Diarist.
Listening to: Matt Mira and Doree Shafrir’s Eggscellent Adventure podcast that chronicles their trials and tribulations with IVF. Holy shit, that stuff is tough. Even if you’ve never used IVF, you probably know someone who has, even if that person/persons hasn’t said much about it. It’s really informative and entertaining — they have a great dynamic together — and man, I am so rooting for them.
Calling: my representative, nearly every damn day. I feel like I’m on a first-name basis with at least one of his aides. (Hey, Judith. What up, girl). If you’re dissatisfied, do something about it. Wallowing or brooding are counterproductive. #resist #shepersisted
Comprehending: the fact that the little one weaned off breastfeeding. She’s 18 months, the same age that her sister stopped, so while I predicted it’d be around this time, it’s still emotionally kinda tough (but also kinda not, which doesn’t make a lot of sense, but whatevs. Fucking hormones).
Appreciating: the rain. Winter was my favorite season when I lived in the midwest, and it’s my favorite season here, too. Blasphemy, I know. Bring on that precipitation and those perfect 40-degree mornings.
Anticipating: my parents’ arrival at the end of this week!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Next up: Redding 10 miler with Wolfpack (first PA race!) and then the 408k (an 8k) in San Jose (which, if you want to run, REPRESENTEG will net you a discount, woot).