Normally I wouldn't write about something like a training race, which is what the Allen Stone Run-Swim-Run was for me this past weekend, but I feel like it's a good talking point for my new sort of strategy to racing. It's very difficult to put pretty much the utmost faith into a training method, plan, and coach because there's that inevitable fear of it not working out. This is honestly part of why the last few years I have all but avoided having truly scheduled workouts, just kind of winging it. I feel far more in control of my own destiny that way, and it feels more like I am doing the work necessary. Periodized training sometimes makes you feel downright crappy, I've found. It was somewhat part of Jeff's plan not to have me recover fully from Colonial Beach before doing this little race on the Virginia Beach oceanfront to see how I would respond. I had a feeling this was the case, but I just went with it, hoping, honestly, to win this race.
It was a 1k beach run-1k ocean swim, 5k run on flat, fast boardwalk. The first run was awful. The tide was coming in, so there was no hard packed sand anywhere, so a bigger guy like me especially sinks in more. Also, as Jeff told me to run the race like I wasn't going to finish, I did that and man, did that hurt to do on soft sand. I wanted to stay near the front before we entered the water so I could catch some feet. That was useless, because we got totally spread out heading out to the waist to chest high surf. It was a verrrrry long swim, one where I was redlining the whole time, until I finally came out to the beach near where the first run started and up to the boardwalk to put my shoes on. I didn't look at my watch at all to facilitate more of the "run until you think you're dead" mentality, but that didn't correlate very well. I felt all right, but I was definitely hurting; my legs were filled with fatigue from a hard week of training. I reached the turnaround point and wanted to walk at that point, but I kept going on. With about a mile to go, I got passed by the first place female, and I think I lost a little bit of morale at the thought of being "chicked." My final 5k ended up being somewhere in the high 20 minutes. Only a few months ago, in February, I ran a 16:53 in a similar set up course, on a boardwalk in Long Branch, NJ. I would really like to get that speed back, but I believe it will get there. Had I not blown up by killing myself on the first run and the swim, maybe it would have been there. I talked to my coach afterward and he admitted that this was a test to force my body to adapt and see how it would react, so that when I take the high training load off, I will be chomping at the bit to race