It’s 6am, but it’s still dark.

I’m not used to that.  At home, the sun would have risen 45 minutes ago making it much easier to get out the door.

I have a course mapped out in my head.  It involves lots of loops and double-backs … not much fun, but it should get me the distance that I’m hoping for.

Looking out the window I can see a shroud of mist in the air.  I’m hoping that it’s rain, but I have a feeling that it’s a glimmer of the kind of humidity I’m going to run through.

My summer tour of some of the hottest spots in the US continues tomorrow. 

I have a 7:15am flight to Houston, TX where I’ll spend the weekend with Mom and Dad.

My real purpose for going is to bring home Caitlin who’s spent the past two weeks being completely spoiled.  She’s been going out to dinner, shopping, swimming in the pool, going out to more dinners, the movies, miniature golfing, mani/pedi appointments … In 10 days she’s done more with my Mom and Dad than I did in 18 summers of living at home.

I’m scheduled to run 7 miles on Saturday and then 14 on Sunday. 

I think I’ll pay close attention to the weather to see if 14 is a real possibility. 

20 minutes of running in Atlanta was more then enough.

I’ve never seen so many cars or run in such heavy air. 

Even the most humid day on the Cape doesn’t compete with the soup that I ran through this morning.

It didn’t help that I had 4 hours sleep.

It didn’t help that I had no idea where I was going, and in order to get there I had to cross multiple highway on-ramps during the morning rush hour.

It certainly didn’t help that I was running on concrete sidewalks that made my knees buckle and my hips ache.

Thankfully, this hotel has a great Fitness Center. 

After my 20 minute outdoor running experiment I gratefully entered the air conditioned confines of the fitness center and spent 45 minutes riding the bike and hitting the weights.

No more outdoor running until Thursday when I’ll be back home where I belong.

I should already be in Atlanta.

I should be unpacked, relaxed and mindlessly flipping channels from some nondescript hotel room in the middle of a nondescript office park.

Instead, I’m 36,000 feet over Lake Ontario heading towards Cleveland where we’ll take a left and start the journey south.

it’s going to be a late night and I’m afraid my planned 60 minute Monday morning run will suffer because of it.

I didn’t run today (Sunday).

I was supposed to run six miles, but we (Michelle and I) had overnight guests – our friends’ 8 year old and one year old slept over while their Mom and Dad partied all night at a wedding.

I used the “help out in the morning” excuse as my reason for not running today. 

In reality, yesterday’s run took a lot out of me, and I thought it would be best to have one more day of recovery.

But now as I watch the minutes tick by and try to calculate our arrival time I’m wondering how much sleep I’ll really get and if I’ll have the energy to get out the door at 5am.

Early morning running plans always make sense during the middle of the day.”Sure!! Let’s run at 5am” … “Yeah! I’ll meet you at your house.” … “It’ll be great to get the run done early.”

WtF was I thinking?

My eyes are still closed.

I have lines across both sides of my face.

In one hour I need to meet Keith and run for 2 hours.

I’m never going to make it.

It was already 6:15 and I was still sitting in front of my computer.

I should have been 5 miles into a 7 mile run.

I should have been 17 minutes from home.

Instead, I was staring at a computer screen writing a report for work, overwhelmed by the amount of projects I have and growing concerned about when I’m going to fit it all in.

The minutes crept by – “15 more minutes, and I’ll get out for my run,” I promised myself.

15 minutes passed and I started another work project.

OK, I’ll finish this one, and then I’ll go running.  If all goes well, I’ll be out the door by 7am.

7am comes and goes - I’m still working.

I can’t turn it off.  I can’t push away from the keyboard.

I can’t stop thinking about the 10 projects for work, the 2 freelance projects, the trip to Atlanta, the trip to Houston, a potential day trip to Hartford.

My mind is racing and I can feel the anxiety building.

“I’ve taken on too much.  I’m going to fail at everything.”

I can feel the breaking point approaching.  This isn’t going to be pretty.

Then out of no where, Colin, my three year old, comes into my office to see what I’m doing.

He’s surprised to see me.  When he went to bed last night I told him that I’d be running when he woke up.

He asks,  ”Hey Beeb (that’s what he calls me) why aren’t you running?”

I tell him that I’m busy with work stuff. 

“Oh,”  he says. “Well, when you’re done with your work stuff are you going to go for a run?”

I tell him that I really want to, but it’s not looking too good.

“I think you should go for a run and then make Mom coffee when you come back.”

I just look at him and smile.  He’s right.  Work can wait. 

 

…..

As it turns out, the run was everything that I needed.  By the second mile I had mentally organized everything that I needed to get done for the next week.  I had decided that I’d work all morning on one project and the afternoon on a different project.

Most importantly, I decided to take Colin out for ice cream tonight for giving such great advice.

I won’t go so far as to say I feel 100%, but this morning’s run felt like stepping back in time a month.

My lungs were completely open. 

My legs felt as strong as ever.

My stride, not the prettiest on the bests of days, felt smooth and consistent.

OK, so it was “only” 5 miles (have to put that in quotes for my non-running friends who hate when I say a run was only XX miles), but it gave me the confidence to get out there again tomorrow.

At this time last year, my home-office desk had two neat piles – one had four pages turned upside down.  This was my “weeks in the bank” pile.  The other had 14 pages turned right-side up.  This was my “weeks still to come” pile. 

Every Monday I’d take the top page in the “week’s still to come” pile and memorize that week’s recommended training plan.

I’d have to determine if, given my schedule, I could stick with the letter of the plan, or if I’d be forced to make adjustments and rely on the spirit of the plan.

In addition to the print-outs, I had a yellow legal pad on which I’d make notes about the training itself – the route I ran, what I wore, how I felt, what I ate the night before.

In short, I thought I was pretty well organized. 

In reality, I was borderline psychotic.

Through three months of foundation building and 18 weeks of official training , I was consumed by the marathon. 

 

So why do I feel so different this year? 

Why am I finally starting to think about my official training?

I suppose there’s a certain “been there – done that” mind set, but that can’t be all there is to it.

I’m still excited and nervous about the marathon. 

I’m still thinking about the next 14 weeks and calculating where I’ll be each weekend because that will impact my long runs.

I’m still debating the merits of hill training vs. speed work at the track (Rick – you’ll be happy to hear that I’m leaning towards hill work this time around).

I suppose I can’t explain why I feel different, I’m just going to roll with it. 

My new, official training program tells me that I have to run a nice slow three-miler today.  Three miler?? I think this is going to be more of a “spirit of the plan” type of day.

I don’t have the best camera, and I don’t claim to be a decent photographer, but I was able to take a few pictures during Saturday’s Race.

Osterville Run for the Library on Picasa

As far as the race is concerned .. Joe Navas kicked ass.  Watching him cruise up Main St with no one even close was a sight to behold.  He finished in 21:30 (5:13 pace) and looked like he could run the course again in the same pace.

Nearly as impressive was the performance of young Kevin Napolitan (Rick’s son).  As I heard it, Kevin rolled out of bed around 7:15, shuffled into his Dad’s car, lined up @ the starting line and ran the race in 28:11 (6:50 pace).  Imagine what he’d be able to do if he got a good night’s sleep and was actually training this summer. 

I love this race. 

It’s a little over 4 miles and draws about 300 locals and summer residents. 

Sean Doherty does a great job as race director.

Sadly, I won’t be running this year – after 4 years in a row, I’ve decided to use my head and let my my rehab continue for a few more weeks.  I’ve run the past four days without any chest pain or breathing difficulty, but mentally I don’t believe I’m ready to try and bust out a race pace  (or my sad excuse for a race pace). 

I will be on-hand with my camera so hopefully I’ll get some good pictures to post later this morning.