Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Fly me to the (California) Moon

Frank Sinatra mixes with the patter of rain pouring steadily on the back patio.  Merber's making his famous turkey burgers and the scent of cooking meat and blue cheese wafts into my room.  It's been smelling like this for what seems like hours, and I'm getting hungry.  Outside, thunder ambles across the sky, the first thunderstorm of the year rolling slowly over Austin.  Our house is an island, safe and cozy, the storm providing an excuse to just stay put.

A long day of work, alternating between using my legs and my brain.   A humid 52:24 ten mile marathon paced run in the rain and reluctant gray morning light, lost in thought and numbed by the familiar instinct of a faster tempo and the crunching of gravel underfoot.  Mind racing and heart pounding after a difficult exam an hour later.  More class, pages of notes, a set of 200s at mile pace on the track in the afternoon as the sun tries to break through the clouds.  It does, and in the humidity I sweat.

Texas Relays Jerry Thompson Mile.  I'm wearing #3.
Later as I cool down through campus, dark clouds threaten above the Texas capital building's glowing red bell tower and the smell of the imminent storm saturates the thick air.  Being at home in the evening, my legs up, listening to the rain and life of the house is enormously relaxing.  Nothing makes a runner happier than a period of solid training (except a great race) and sometimes that can erase the worries of the day.

My training philosophy since indoor nationals could be described as something like "base with workouts".  I'm doing summer-type mileage but maintaining the genre and intensity of 5k workouts characteristic of track season.  Many people here at Texas have identified me exclusively as a miler and act surprised when I tell them I'll be focusing on the 5000 this summer.  I can't blame them - my indoor season went in a direction away from the longer events because of how races and qualifying scenarios panned out.

I've come to accept that I don't possess the "stupid speed" required for the end of championship 1500 races - the ability to throw on the afterburners and consistently close in 51-52 over the final lap and rake people in over the last 100m.  I do have a nice combination of strength and acceleration - and that's why I believe I'll have the most success in the longer distance.  That's not to say I won't be running any more 1500s - I have one scheduled for next weekend here at UT, and plan to tag along for the ride in May's Oxy High Performance 1500.  Maintaing legspeed while developing strength has been the name of the game throughout my career, and I won't be changing that system any time soon.

A newfound sense of freedom charges my running in the day to day and long term perspectives.  Without conference, regional, and national team obligations I'm now able to focus more on training and less on racing in the spring in preparation for the summer circuit, when I'm aiming for a later peak than usual.  I haven't changed many elements of my day to day routine, and being associated with Texas' program provides a huge boost.  I still feel very much a part of the team and that has helped the transition.

With a busy running and school schedule I make sure to set aside time to think about all this stuff, especially when the weather puts me in a contemplative mood.  The next big race for me will be the Payton Jordan 5000 at Stanford in 19 days.

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