It's the first quarter of the year, and life gets a little busy for me. This year, there's an early timeline for the annual pointy-haired performance review process. It's my least favorite part of the job, but it has to be done. As is typical, the pointy-haired nonsense lands right when I'd like to use my time and energy for work that will actually make a difference to my employer. But I deal with that.
At the same time, my volunteer job doing tax returns for low income people is starting up. I've spent some time getting up to speed for this year's training, and will spend some more time on that Saturday. Then I'll put 8 hours a week into the volunteer job from January 21 through April 15.
On top of all this, I committed to running a half marathon on April 28. A rational observer might ask, "What on earth is he thinking???"
Good question. I know that my paid job is going to be busy, and I know that I have a time commitment to the volunteer job. But Saturday, when I mentioned the Flower City Challenge to my daughter, she asked if they had a 5K. Yes, they do. Then she said she wouldn't do that one because she won't get her tax refund (i.e., won't have money) until after the price goes up beyond what she's willing to pay. So I opened my mouth and said I'd pay her entry fee if my foot got enough better for me to sign up.
The bad foot didn't complain at all on Sunday, and was good enough to let me run on Monday. I didn't run on Monday for other reasons, but I could have. So the decision was made. Yesterday evening it turned out to be convenient to go pay the entry fee, and now I'm committed. I'm not just committed to myself, I'm committed to giving my daughter a ride to the race venue with me.
So, how am I going to manage this, with a busy work schedule plus a volunteer job? I actually have a plan. The plan is to run 3 days a week, with a long run on the weekend, and gradually stretch the long run till I can cover the distance. I have 15 weeks to get there, and the last week is traditionally a taper.
I might do a little speed work, or I might not. Speed is not the focus. Running the entire course is the focus. The course for this half has a stretch of continual incline starting about at mile 6, and lasting 2 or 2 and a half miles. It starts out gentle and just gets steeper and steeper till it gets into the hilly part of the city and goes up and down quite a bit. So . . . I'll be doing a lot of hill work in training. I have some hills that I can get to from home that I can practice on.
The weekday runs will be time limited because of the work schedule. I can afford 30 to 35 minutes running on a day I work from home, like today. In the winter, I will likely run the route I ran today quite a bit. It has a 65 foot variation in elevation between the highest and lowest point, with two little hills that are fairly steep where I'm going up.
This morning I got up early, though not as early as a week ago. I debated about whether I had enough time before work, and decided to run anyway. It was cloudy, 36° F (2° C), SW wind 7 mph, mostly dry asphalt on the shoulders. Traffic was heavier than a week ago, because I was later into the commuter hour. I covered 4.66 miles in 32:07, for an average pace of 6:54 per mile. Splits were as follows:
I can do this two days a week, weather permitting. After a week of no new snow and some partial melting, I'm feeling better about making it through the winter running this year. It's amazing how even 2 or 3 days of not having to shovel snow improved my outlook on the weather.
The real action will be the long slow run on the weekend. The plan is to run 9 miles or so on Saturday. That means Saturday afternoon this week, because I have more tax training Saturday morning. When I get into the actual tax prep season, it will be running in the morning before volunteer work in the afternoon. I expect to vary the route for the long run, as it gets longer and longer.
The wild card is how well the bad foot tolerates stretching the distance. It's feeling pretty good about things after 4 weeks of the long run being roughly 8 miles; I'll have to see how well it likes 9 miles. But that's something I'll deal with.
If it turns out the bad foot doesn't get enough better to let me run 13 miles by the end of April, I can always back down to the 5K. I'd rather not have to do that; but I think I want to run 3 days a week in May more than I want to complete a half marathon at the end of April.
Oh, well. I can worry about the mileage not stretching out far enough if things play out that way. Right now, I'm happy that the mileage stretched to 4.6 miles being comfortable by the time I needed that distance to be able to run on the plowed shoulders.
And the snow under foot? If it happens, it happens. My new shoes came in, so I can make a pair of screw shoes out of an older pair whenever I need to. I'm leaning toward not making them until they're absolutely necessary. I got through one major snowstorm without them. If it doesn't get any worse than it's been, I might not need them at all.