This may be the only year in my life where I say I’m glad August is over.
Last month was busy, which is usual. Two birthdays and starting a new job pretty much took my focus, and with that meant I didn’t have the time or energy to dedicate to training and normal routines.
But now September is here, and with September means the coming of a new season. I deflated my pool inflatables to get my bike out instead, and sunbathing has gone out in favor of planning trips to pumpkin patches, apple orchards and sunflower fields. Today was the first sunny day that wasn’t oppressively humid, so I took advantage of the sunshine on a half hour walk at lunch. My lunch walk coincided with the local elementary school students playing outside at recess.
It’s too bad adults don’t get recess. If that doesn’t increase morale and productivity, I don’t know what would. Actually, I take that back: daily Chick-Fil-A. I’d be on cloud nine no matter how challenging work might be if I had some of those breakfast bites (me note: is that what they’re called?)
With September comes a new dedication and focus on my marathon training. Admittedly, I fell off the wagon last month with my running. The longest run I completed in August was the Emerald City Half, and the only reason I even ran that far was because I paid to race. Starting the new job and having to get back into the groove of getting up to commute, when I’ve spent almost a year and a half in my apartment, took some time to re-adjust to.
When I was unemployed I would lollygag a bit in the morning and usually didn’t get to the gym or start runs until later morning. Obviously, now that I’m working 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., lollygagging isn’t an option. So if I’m serious about running or lifting, I better set that alarm at 4:30 and get my butt out of bed.
Marina helps me with this. She’s an early riser kitty, and she knows when it’s roughly 4:30. I get a courtesy call from the kitchen about 10 to 15 minutes before my alarm actually goes off. If I’m moving slow or not getting up, that courtesy call becomes a pterodactyl opera. Hell hath no fury like a part-Siamese cat who’s hungry for breakfast.
It’s been three weeks since I started working, and I finally got into the groove this past week. Yesterday I even got up and ran five miles.
Since I haven’t been running regularly for over a year, I’ve lost a ton of speed. My endurance is solid and I feel great while running, like time is actually moving faster than it is. But then when I’m done with my run and save it to Strava, my pace is abysmal. Yesterday’s pace was 11:49 minutes a mile. Pre-pandemic (and unemployment and depression and break up grief), I was running 10 minute miles easily, with a race pace of roughly 9:50.
On one hand I want to treat myself gracefully, simply because everyone has been off the last year and a half. However, there does come a point where blaming my loss of speed on pandemic/grief/depression/the universe gets stale. And the Columbus Marathon is about six weeks away, with the Indy Monumental following it three weeks later. Now’s definitely not the time to dwell on time lost when I have five Saturdays to get my long runs completed.
It’s crunch time and I’m definitely feeling it. A part of it scares the hell out of me, and at the same time, I’m kinda looking forward to the challenge. After all, there’s no growth or accomplishment without some pain involved, right?
So September: I’m glad to see you again. We’re going to be working together a lot over the next 30 days. And at some point we’re going to find some sunflower fields. But marathon training comes first. And making soft molasses cookies next Monday.
I hope all of you have a wonderful month ahead. May you smash some goals and enjoy yourself along the way.
Yours in writing and running,