Summer is here! Like...officially (but don't tell my daughter this, as she's in school until May 31). If you live in southern Indiana, you know that it has felt like summer since March. But now the real deal is here. Which means that I have survived my first semester as a tenure-track faculty member at IU. I absolutely love my job and have not, for a second, ever regretted my decision to work so long and arduously to be able to have it.
A lot of people are asking me, "aren't you off over the summer?" Nope. And I'm glad. I have a ton of work to do, and it will be much easier to do without students around. I love having students, but it's nice to have some dedicated time for my own scholarship.
Summer is also often a big few months of training for runners. And it typically is for me, too (though I don't discriminate--I train long and hard in the winter, too). But it's going to start out slowly for me. To catch you up, I picked up an IT band injury right after my first ultra marathon, along with patellar tendonitis. I (stupidly) ran Boston on these injuries, making them worse. I am not surprised by this. I made the decision to run Boston knowing that this would probably be the case. I didn't, however, plan on suffering from heat stroke during that race. I did, and it's taking my body a long time to recover from that. I've read that it takes months to recover from a heat-related injury.
All that is to say--I'm dinged up. I'm running, but not very much. I'm in PT for my knee twice a week, and it's definitely getting better. Right now, I'm running about 4 miles a day. My doctor would allow me to run more (not that I've ever listened when he said not to), but there simply is not a reason for it at the moment. My plan is to use the remainder of May as a "rehabilitation month." Easy, flat running and nothing else. As a runner, I've had to learn that you must operate in peaks and valleys of training, or you will burn out/get hurt, or both. Don't choose to take some down time (a valley), and your body will demand it of you. That is the problem with our flesh--so weak! I was in a peak from around November 2011-March 2012. I was training a lot, injury free, and extremely fit. I had some great races, including a top-3 finish at my very first ultra. I should have known to give my body a break right after...but the problem is you feel so GOOD (i.e. fast, fit, indestructible) at that point.
The valley began in April 2012, and I ignored it for a few weeks, but am now accepting of it. I'm not fast right now. I don't have much endurance. I'm a few pounds heavier than my "race weight." Completing a marathon (which, at this point in my running career, is not something I think of as a big deal--though I used to) right now, at any pace, would be much less pleasant than usual. There is a word for all of this, and it's called detraining.
Some people, like my friend Mark, call it recovery. Recovery sounds really positive. It also sounds necessary (and, to my disappointment, it is). But what is really is is letting your body detrain a bit. To "heal" as Mark says. Whatever. I don't like it one bit, but I'm going to do it. Once June hits, I will ramp up my mileage (slowly, and under the supervision of Scott) and begin training for a September half and, one of my two major goals for this year, a sub-3:10 full in November. For now, I'm happy to be able to run my four flat, slow miles every day.
I am, however, doing DWD this weekend. Calm down, I'm not running much at all, and I'm certainly not running fast. Dr. W says it will be a good way to assess where my knee is after all this therapy since I've not taken it beyond 4 tiny miles. That race is this weekend, and it is my favorite of the year. My family plus a guy named Quigley have been on the same team for a few years now, and we always have a blast. I can't wait.
Another thing I get to do this summer? Help Sara Jane train again. She took some down time after New York (smart girl), and is now getting back into training. She ran a stupendous 5K a couple of weeks ago with zero training, and I can't wait to see what she does in a half, a full, and a bunch of trail races (which she's interested in doing).
She has also inspired me to do something I previously said I would never do. Something that I still can't wrap my head around..a triathlon. She mentioned to me that she wanted to do one, and via hearing her talk about it + Tim and Jimmy telling me about a triathlon with a VERY short swim which happens in August...I decided to do one. Now, to triathletes, it will seem like nothing. But, you see, for a purist runner, swimming and biking any distance on purpose as part of an event is a big deal. The Cicero triathlon is in August, and it's kind of a baby tri. 200 meter swim, 9 mile bike, and a 5K run. It sounds crazy, but I am going to have to actually train a lot to be able to swim 200 continuous meters. Right now, I'm guessing I could make it 25 meters...in a pool.
It's a new challenge. Everyone in my Bedford running group also does tris. In fact, to my amazement, they prefer them. They got Tim to drink the Kool-Aid in 2010 and, while I'll never do that, I've heard them talk about it so much that I feel I have to do it to keep my spot in the running group! Jimmy and Tim were talking about Cicero while we were in Boston. This was after the race, and I kind of loathed running at that point, so I agreed to think about trying something different.
Then, last night, Tim said to me "Allen thinks he'll pass you on the bike at Cicero." Allen is one Mr. (Dr., actually) Allen Burris. A pastor and good running friend of ours. He is an excellent, God-loving man...who apparently thinks he can overtake yours truly on his bike. He's new to triathlons and, unlike me, wants to complete an Ironman (I can say with confidence that I will never even have the desire to do that). Apparently, before their weekly pace line bike ride last night, Tim was telling them that I was going to do Cicero, and Allen mentioned something about at least being able to pass me on the bike.
Allen--I have news for you. I am a TERRIBLE swimmer. I doubt that I would ever come out of the water in front of you unless a shark was right on my heels. Sources tell me that Dr. Burris can swim 350 meters without stopping. He's way ahead of me there. However, I'm not too shabby on the bike. I'm not fast, by any means, but my riding ability certainly trumps my swimming ability. So I'm going to say that my new goal is to pass Dr. Burris on the ride portion of the Cicero triathlon. Dr. Miller v. Dr. Burris. Bedford v. Mitchell. He will have many more cycling miles on his legs, and I'm sure much more swimming. He also has a much nicer bike. But I'm going to beat him.
Now, it's not enough to say that I'll beat him in the race. I have some good leg speed, and it's possible for me to catch him on the run and pass him that way even after having two horrendous first phases of the race. But given that Allen and I are both new to this tri thing, the real race has to take place in the first two phases: I have to finish the bike portion ahead of Allen. He made the challenge (perhaps without even knowing it..right, Allen?) and I have responded. I am counting on Tim, Bill, and Jimmy to train me to out swim and out bike that Dr. Burris from Mitchell. The Dr. from Bedford shall win this challenge.
Now, what do I win if I do beat Allen? I'm proposing three breakfasts at Bob Evans. I'd say one, but this is kind of a big deal. I don't eat that much, Allen...and what I really like there are the bottomless cappuccinos. So I promise not to break you. Except in the race. It's on...and I call Tim, Bill, and Jimmy as *MY* coaches. You get the nice bike, I get the coaches.