Today's race was a turning point in my running future. I am comfortable with my loss of speed. I feel like I am in a as good of shape that I have ever been. It is just that my body and mind have had enough of pushing it to the limit. This is life. It is not going quietly into middle age, it is considering changing goals to prolong my endurance lifestyle for as long as possible.
As I was approaching mile 7 and the start of the long climb in the race a sort of calm came over me. I just didn't have it in me to keep a 6:40 pace going any longer. In the past I would have dug deep and tried to fight off the demons. Today they migh have been angels sending me a message. I slowed. I climbed. I slowed even more. I had doubts. I started to lose my confidence as I was passed by person after person. The hills have always been my strength. Today I was surviving. Every ache and pain was on my mind. I could not fight them off. I reached the top and started to push the pace for 1.5 miles. Then, my legs said enough. I could not get them to turn over on the downhill. Finishing strong has always been my strength. Not today. Not even a push to the finish. 1 hour 33 minutes. Not bad. My worst 13.1 time since my first in 1999.
As I walked to the through the finish line I thought of Anton from Trifuel. I imagined him saying, "Pick your head up Lad. Do you want to be doing this for the next 10 or 20 years or do you want to go fast for a couple and then burn out or retire because of injury?" I am not upset. I feel like I can still run decent times. I want to have more fun and worry less about my place. I want to drink in the surroundings and the atmosphere. I did none of that today. The gift was ignored.
It is time to adapt. There will be no sub 3 hour attempt at Boston. There will be a 26.2 mile celebration of my 5th running. I will enjoy the gift on April 19.
A 1:33 done properly today could have had me feeling like a million dollars. Limping in because I hammered the first 7 miles is not what I want to do again. As I was nearing the last 1/4 mile a man I met at the start came up along sid me. He asked how I was doing. I responded that it was the worst race I have had in years. He told me it was his best. He PR'd by 6 minutes. I swore never to say a negative thing again to a person in a race. That is not what it is about. How lucky am I just to be running and living this lifestyle.
Maybe it is time to take a year off from longer races. Maybe I need a summer of sprints, Oly's, and 5k's. Maybe I just had a bad day. Maybe I am turning 41 this year and have had a hell of a 10 year run. 18 marathons, 18 half-marathons. 2 Ironmans. 2 HIM's, and 10 other tris. That is a lot of racing and training. I appreciate what I have done. I appreciate what I have. Today I had no urge to prove anything to myself. Life is presenting more challenges to my free time. The mileage may be catching up to me. I need time to ponder what this all means. But I do know it is time to adapt.