I have come to terms with the fact that I'm not going to be a professional runner in this lifetime. I think I missed the window for that opportunity by a couple of decades. Instead, I've tried to do the next best thing: integrate my running with my work and vice versa. A great example of this is the interest that my employer, The Nature Conservancy, has taken in profiling me as both a scientist and a runner. At first, I was surprised by this combination, and was unclear about how these two seemingly unrelated aspects of my life could be integrated. However, they found a top notch multimedia firm that revealed that connection and brought it to life on film. I posted some pictures from the video shoot they did a few weeks back and am pleased to present the video product of that effort here.
While some of my colleagues are concerned that this profile sets unreasonable expectations for personal fitness in the organization, I am excited by the thought that my passion for running and science might somehow compel people to care more about protecting nature. I think many runners make that connection on a daily basis, using running routes that go through parks and natural areas whenever possible. The majority of the rest of the public is not getting out there to see how awesome these resources are and they need to be shown.
Of course, I've also managed to incorporate running into my military career, representing the Air Force and United States as a marathoner in national and international competitions. This is something that makes me a little giddy when I think about it. The experiences are ones that I truly cherish and feel incredibly lucky to continue to have.
So, it's good to be me. Most of the time. These last few months of being sidelined by injury have reminded me how hard this running gig can be, both physically and emotionally. While I still think I'm headed in the right direction, the road is bumpy. Those bumps remind me just how emotionally invested I am in this hobby.
Last week, I ran every day for a total of 61 miles. I had a track workout on Tuesday, a lactate threshold workout on Friday and a long run on Saturday. That was a really big week for me, and I was worried the entire time about making it through in one piece. I was conscious of every little niggle I felt and worried that it was the genesis of my next injury. My aches and pains have rotated around my body during this comeback starting with really bad soreness in my calf muscles for the first few weeks, followed by a wicked ache in my right glute muscle and now my IT band and outer shin muscles are sore. I realize that these are the pains that come with my body adjusting to running again after a 3-month lay off, but they are really nerve wracking! They also take a huge commitment of time. I can't slack off with stretching or strength training for even a day. Dr. Lau has also been an amazing partner in my treatment, and I feel really lucky to have him as a resource.
My workouts have gone really well so far. Last week, I did my first track workout of 7 x 1000m @ 6:00/mile pace with 1 minute rest. I love 6:00 pace. It is a benchmark pace for me and allows me to gage my fitness. Right now, it's my 10k pace. When I'm really fit, it will be my lactate threshold or even half marathon pace. I was happy that, in my first workout back, I felt comfortable holding that pace throughout the workout. Last Friday, I incorporated some short, 100m repeats into my tempo run and was pleasantly surprised with my turnover. I was really worried that my first bout of fast running would feel like I was in some sort of cartoon, trying to run fast but not being able to control my legs. I was whipping along at sub-5:00 pace without a problem and felt very comfortable and smooth.
This week, I'm incorporating double days into my schedule and bumping my mileage over 70. I did my very first Michigan workout late last night in the pouring rain. The Genius was kind enough to accompany me so I didn't have to run it by myself, and it would have been miserable by myself. It was hard for him to slow to my paces, but I appreciated having someone to follow so I could zone out and forget about my shoes sloshing with every step and my legs tightening up at the end of each fast lap. We treated ourselves to some Willie's burgers and fries after the workout. I think we earned it.