Plan vs Priorities

This week I ran a little longer but slower on each of my weekday runs. Then I cut my 10 down to 8 yesterday and my 20 became a 6 today. No real reason for any of the deviations. The weekday runs just lucked into some extra miles. Yesterday I had an opportunity to run with a new friend who only had time for 8 miles. Today. Well today fell victim to general summer weekendness. It happens. Sometimes my running hobby needs to be shown that it’s not top banana around here.

Normally, on weekends, I get up anywhere from 5a to 7a depending on how far I’m running. I get back from a weekend run anywhere from 8a to 11a. No matter which way you try to rationalize it, running long does take away time from family time. My family is understanding and accommodating beyond belief. They support my silly hobby proudly but I know it has to wear on them sometimes.

Last night I stayed up way too late having way too much fun with some neighbors. As I was going to bed I asked the family if it would be ok if I slept in and did my 20 mile run a little later. Usually I get up pretty early for a 20 to lessen the impact on the rest of the day for everyone. Because my family rocks, they assured me it would be okay to sleep in.

This morning I woke up at 7 and heard pouring rain. I lazed in bed listening to the rain and was soon joined by snuggly kids. That 20 miler started looking less and less attractive. I was surprised that I didn’t feel compelled to get up and go out for the run though. Rain be damned, I have a training plan! I was downright shocked when I actually found myself thinking,”Meh, I could skip it”. We all got up and lazed some more downstairs with leisurely turkey sandwiches (requested by my oddball kids) for breakfast. Nobody even changed out of their pajamas until 10. We hit Costco for some back to school lunch supplies and then went back to our vegetative states. It was such a perfect Sunday morning.

Eventually I did sneak out for a 6 mile run. I took a new (to me) route from home instead of driving to one of my tried and true routes. It was a hilly butt kicker but it was convenient and got me back to the house and family much quicker than my usual. While I ran I thought about my goals for my fall marathon. I considered the potential impact of screwing around too much with the training plan.

I’m not a naturally gifted runner. I’m a “have to work my butt off to actually see even a little improvement” type runner.  I’ve been derailed a bit in recent weeks with trips to Maryland and Colorado. I still got most of the goal mileage each week but my pace was completely shoved to the backburner. I haven’t always hit the long run target but instead stretched a lot of my shorter runs into middle distance runs.  I’ve totally run according to what adventure was currently available to me and what I felt like doing, training plan be damned.

I let myself feel tense and worried over that for a minute. Then I realized it really doesn’t matter at all. I know I will finish the distance at the upcoming marathon and there will always be another marathon at which I can hit that specific goal time. It’ll happen. There are, however, only a limited number of Sundays where my kids will actually choose to laze around with me. Where they’ll want to cuddle up and snooze with me.  There are only so many days where I have the option to blow off a track workout for an evening trail run or a Leadville hike/run. I’ll take one of those Sundays, or a spontaneous runventure and cherish it. I’ll worry over shaving 10 minutes off a silly marathon later.

Or maybe I won’t ever shave those minutes. Whatever. I really don’t care right now. Summer running this year was supposed to be about getting faster and getting stronger. Instead I actually got a little slower this summer. Gasp! Summer surprised me with a lot of trail, great times with running friends new and old and indulging in the wicked treat of blowing off a workout to sleep in here and there. I’ve gone at some hard workouts, gotten my ass delightfully handed to me and then taken an extra rest day as a reward instead of going for a planned back to back long run. I went in to it thinking this summer I’d learn to be a hard core runner driven by a goal. I absolutely did push myself with new, harder workouts and varying terrain more. But I also learned to be an opportunistic runner always open to some fun along with challenge.

I probably won’t cross the Marine Corps Marathon finish line in the goal time I originally set out for. I also don’t think I’ll be wildly far off that time. The lazy summer with lots of kid, family and friend time and finding some new joy on the run was well worth it though.

Cheers to a perfect last day of summer break 2012!

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