I refuse to be the fast one!

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that there was going to be a local group training for the Detriot Marathon. Since Chicago is only a week before that, I figured that, with some minor adaptations, I could train with a group - if nothing else, it would be nice to have some other people around when I am in the middle of those long, long, looooong slow runs. You know, the 18-miler ones, where somewhere about mile 12, you start thinking "Why am I doing this? Oh yeah, I decided to run a marathon. How much am I getting for this? Nothing, I paid to do this. Why am I subjecting myself to this? The jury is still out on that. . . . oh look, 6 miles to go. . . or, if it were the real thing, about 14 to go."

So, yesterday was our first real training run, on week 2 of the Hal Higdon's Novice program. This presents three problems: first, I am wanting to run something closer to the Intermediate program; second, I need to be a week ahead of them on the schedule; and third, I am contemplating adding a trail marathon that occurs about 6 weeks before Chicago.

The third bit isn't really a problem, since I plan on running that marathon, not racing it, and so I am not going out to set a PR or anything. It would simply take the place of one of my 20-mile runs, and I would take it easy the week before and the week after.

The other two points are, really, only minor concerns. After all, I can always do what I did yesterday, which is tack on another couple miles (or, another 20 minutes, if I don't know the mileage on the route), and probably stay on track.

Anyway, yesterday's run was interesting. I got there a couple minutes late, and discovered that an 8:30 starting time really did mean an 8:30 starting time. Fortunately, I saw them going out of the parking lot as I pulled in, and I was able to quickly grab my belt and catch up to them in the first mile or so. Then, as is the case with any group of a dozen or so runners, it split into several subgroups, and I found myself in the lead pack.

This was not good, since we (the entire lead pack) did not actually know where we were going. So, we'd get to a fork, and then jog in place, looking kind of silly, until the slightly slower runners would catch up enough to shout out "Left!" and then we would lead off again. This eventually caused a problem, since somewhere we missed a turn, and we probably added another mile beyond what the other groups did.

After the run, we were standing around, arranging a time and distance for next week (only 5 miles! Gah!), and then I excused myself, saying that I still had a couple of miles to do, and that I would see them next week. And, as I took off again, one of them called out to me "You're setting the pace next week!"

Now, there's just something wrong with the idea of me setting the pace - I'm firmly in the middle of the pack in most races, at best. The only races where I do "well" are the very large ones, where most of the runners are casual runners (like me, actually), doing their first or second marathon (again, like me). I have passably good times, but not good enough that I would run with the dedicated group of local runners (though, since they meet at a time when I would have no one to watch Kevin, I really don't have that option). I guess they are hoping that since I will be doing extra mileage, I will be holding down a more reasonable pace or something.

Hopefully they were just kidding - I don't want to burn myself out on training, and get to the starting line with the tank only half-full on race day. I want to train on my long weekend runs, not race them.


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