Yesterday I had one of those rare days where the Running Gods smiled on me. These are the types of days that every runner hopes for, the days when everything is easy, when running the pace that you are supposed to hit is effortless, these days when you go a little longer than you need to just because it feels so good to run.
In case you missed it, the weather here in Michigan is absolutely frigid. Anyone who knows me knows how much I truly dislike cold weather. How cold was it? It was so cold that Hell froze over.
For those who aren’t local, Hell is a little town south of here with some of the best trail running in the area. But you won’t see me on those frozen trails. In fact, I am rarely spotted outside at all in this weather. My first winter here I joyfully embraced winter – at first – until I found out just how cold it was and how it just went on and on. But enough about the cold, let’s get back to the Running Gods and my workout.
|Me joyfully embracing winter the first year (before I found out|
what a pain it really is)
You may remember one of my earlier posts where I confessed to being a running pagan. I believe wholeheartedly in a pantheon of Running Gods of various shapes, sizes, and temperaments that when they are not otherwise occupied (no doubt watching reruns of great running races or filling race directors’ minds with particularly nasty courses) deign to meddle in the lives of mere mortal runners such as you and me. No runner is immune from their influence (although many may deny their existence).
My workout yesterday was a lactate threshold workout, 35 minutes continuous at lactate threshold pace. I have really been struggling with these runs lately, which is out of character for me. These have long been my favorite workouts on the schedule. I just naturally love running at that pace. However, I had been neglecting these types of runs in the last year, and as I got back to serious training this fall, these workouts were both painful and frustrating.
I approached the treadmill and began warming up feeling that it would be another difficult and lackluster performance, but then as I pushed it up to pace and started the harder part of the workout a miraculous thing happened. It felt good. It felt easy. The Running Gods were smiling. I waited 10 minutes to be sure it wasn’t just a cruel prank on their part (like the Greek gods, they are not above that type of thing), and then cautiously pushed up the pace a bit. It still felt easy.
After another cautious 10 minutes I pushed the pace back again. I still wasn’t struggling. It was amazing. At the end of that 10 minutes I pushed it back one more time. The last five minutes of the workout still felt good. In fact, just in the last few minutes a song I love started on the video that was providing the background (Jimmy Buffett live in Wrigley Field), so I just kept going, for three more minutes. Even then, I didn’t want to stop, but I knew I should. "If only this would happen on race days," I thought, but then quickly brushed that thought from my mind. To seem ungrateful for the gifts that are given can bring wrath from the aforementioned temperamental and easily-offended Running Gods.
Now I know what some of you might be thinking: "there are no Running Gods, and there is a reasonable explanation for this. You have been training steadily for six weeks now and progress was bound to happen. You have done some good workouts in the past that laid the foundation for a breakthrough run. It is all physiology."
Well, you can think that if you want, but to do so is to take away the enchantment of the moment. This explanation may leave the intellect satisfied, but it leaves the soul without sustenance. In the spirit of my Resolution 3, I will stay enchanted.
So, yesterday, while the wind howled and Hell froze over, the Running Gods smiled. Have the Running Gods been smiling on you?