"It all adds up to something more."
~ Ace Frehley
As you may have read, last week I was up in NH working as a counselor at a high school running camp (post here). As you might also know, I'm currently training for an October marathon, so I had to log quite a few miles during the week that I was there. Unfortunately, my training plan didn't always match up with what the kids were doing, so I often had to get creative. Take Monday, for example, our first full day of camp. I had 13 miles on my schedule. The campers were doing anything from 3 to 9 for their first run in the morning. The plan was to head out at 6:45am. Okay, that's not too bad. But, I was going to need to get a head start if I was going to get some extra miles in. So, I had to set my alarm for 6:00am and get going on my own before joining everyone else for the main run. Right, so, even 6:00 isn't terrible. But, there was one issue that was, in fact, really tough for me to deal with. There was no coffee. (I'll pause here to let the impact of this one set in) Yes, the staff drank coffee, but no one got up and got it going before the cook and her crew were in the kitchen, so there would be no pre-run caffeine for me for the first time since I don't remember. Let's just say those first few solo miles (with no music, mind you, as it was not allowed on the trails) were not the prettiest and/or the swiftist I've ever done. But, still. I got it all in. All 13 miles. I did 10 in the morning and then another 3 in the afternoon. And when I went to bed that night, I thought to myself....
---> Getting up at the crack of dawn to run a 10 miler without the support of music or caffeine. And then running again later in the day. THAT is what will make the difference. That's what will take me to the next level on race day.
Because the camp is up in the mountains and most of the running is on trails with many long, steep, rolling hills that are virtually unavoidable, my coach told me to bag my workouts and just bank as many miles as possible on the challenging terrain. Right-O. By the end of the week, I had run about 70 miles total. I'd done two runs every day but one. I'd done several of them solo and without music and most of them without caffeine. By the end of the week my legs were toast from all the hills, especially my quads, and my overall exhaustion level was at an all time high (not much quality sleep happening at a summer camp on a hard wooden bed with a crappy mattress and 14 high school bunk mates). And as I drove home on Saturday afternoon, once again, I thought to myself....
---> 70 miles on tough terrain with several double sessions, most of that mileage done without caffeine and in a sleep deficit. THAT is what will make the difference. That's what will take me to the next level on race day.
After all that mileage along with many late nights (anything after 9:30pm is late for me), I could not wait to put my feet up and rest on Sunday. It was supposed to be my day off and damned if I hadn't earned it. Yea, no. That next Monday, my girls had soccer camp from 9am-11am. Though I tried, I could not find a sitter to get them to and from the field. The only way I could get my long run (21 miles) was to get up at 5:00am and get it done before I had to drop them off. Given how tired I was from the week that had just ended, I knew that just wasn't going to happen. So, basically, what I realized late Saturday afternoon, much to my dismay, was that the only way I could get that 21 miler in without stressing about logistics was to do it on Sunday. Thus, I'd be topping off my week at 90 miles (a first) and running the last 21 of them on jelly legs and with bags under my eyes. Oooh boy. Despite quite a bit of moaning and groaning, I got up on Sunday morning and got it done. Because I had to. And as I sat on my porch on Sunday evening in a rocking chair with my feet up and dinner on my lap, yet again, I thought to myself.....
---> 22 miles on tired legs after a 70 mile week after which I was functioning on fumes. THAT is what will make the difference. That's what will take me to the next level on race day.
In the end, what I realized or maybe just reconfirmed is that it ALL adds up. And that all of it together will be what makes the difference. There is no one single thing that will enable me to achieve my overall goal. My 90 mile week? It will undoubtedly help. Just knowing I was able to dig deep and find enough energy to pull that off will likely come to mind as I'm fighting through my final 10K. But, it won't be the deal breaker. Everything that I put in over the past four months - the hundreds of miles, the stretching, the rolling, the icing, the workouts that I suffered through in the heat, the workouts that didn't go how I wanted them to but I did them anyway, the core work, the double sessions - all of it will be what takes me to that next level. We can never be 100% prepared when we get on the line as there will always be variables that are out of our control. But if we do everything we can to get there, particularly on the days when we thought we couldn't, then, yea, THAT is going to make the difference. All of it.
Listen to this:
Lonely Cities - TIGERTOWN