Sometimes a workout defies logic. Before a recent run, I didn’t eat well or prep well. It was slushy. It was rainy. My left foot had been bothering me. Yet, it felt effortless. It was one of those “Breakthrough Runs” I’ve written about in the past (see post from 11/1/11: The Breakthrough Run). I didn’t question it…I just decided to enjoy the moment.

I am starting to think I have turned a corner in the 14-month runner’s rut I’ve also posted about. The motivation is back.  The form is back. The desire to race (at my pace) is back.

Speaking of racing, last week I did the Icicle 10 Miler in Delaware. It was my first non-rabbiting race at that distance in over a year. I was not satisfied with my pace, but it was a decent pace for me in January.  However, I was not satisfied.  This is a key sign for me.

Those of you who know me know how I feel about contentment with running performance.  I’m rarely content with my own performance.  At times, I have not signed up for races because of this attitude.  However, after last week’s race, despite feeling a bit humbled, I’m ready for another one.  I am ready to push it again.  This is a good feeling.  This feeling has not surfaced in a while.

Look, I’m not an elite runner (few are).  Second, I’m not a “Back” or a “Middle” of the pack person either.  I am a “Closer-to-the-front” runner. This can be a wonderful but weird place to be: You don’t usually place or get medals (actually, when you turn 40, sometimes you place in your age group), yet you’re not there “just for the experience or the fun of it” either. You can usually detect such a runner because he or she has a certain intense look to them.

I’m one of those people. I generally run over 8 MPH during a typical training run.  In races, I’m usually in the top 5%. Good but not elite.  Good but not “just happy to be there.” Good but not content if it’s not a PR. It can sometimes be a tough place to be. At that pace, people don’t always look like they’re having fun.  Often, they appear to be dissatisfied.

I’ve run marathons at my slower-than-usual pace to help my wife or a friend achieve a goal.  I like doing this.  I tend to become more observant when I am running slower.  I’ve noticed that people at that different pace are often more talkative, and it seems like they smile more. It seems like most of them are having a blast.

I could be wrong. In fact, I’m sure people are intense and nervous no matter what the pace is, but, for me, I tend to have more vivid memories of the races in which I’ve slowed down my own pace.  Perhaps this is because I’m more relaxed at a slower speed?

Maybe others would have the same experience if they slowed down their own pace?

On the other hand, my memory is mush when I run faster.  When I am running my own pace, my wife will ask me afterward: “Did you see this or see that [famous landmark], etc?” and, to be honest, my answer is almost always “no.”  I usually have my blinders on, and I miss a lot of the scenery. This sometimes saddens me. Before you say: “Hey jerk, you expect me to feel sorry for you?”  No, I don’t expect that.  I’m just asking you to understand what goes through my head.

Why speed it up then?  Trust me, I am always tempted to run at that slower pace, but my competitiveness ultimately gets the better of me.

I’m not sure why I’m telling you this, but I think it’s because, despite the temptation to keep it slower, I’m ready to be faster again. I’m ready to go for it again. I’m ready for that “dissatisfied with my performance” attitude again. I think I’m moving out of Rutville.

Stay tuned.

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