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It’s Sunday, that must mean mile repeats + The joys of air travel

July 3, 2011

It is always good to have a chance to be with family on special occasions.  Having chosen to live many states away from where I grew up, it isn’t too often that I get to spend time with family.  I’m glad I went but I have to say that travel can really take its toll.  The return flight to Austin, in particular, was a rough one.  Our arrival into ABIA wasn’t newsworthy but it certainly wasn’t comfortable.

With nothing more than an airport bagel sandwich as sustenance for the day of travel, I was hungry and generally unsettled.  The cabin was warm and the air vents, even fully open, were pretty much just pushing around recycled bad breath of our fellow passengers.  And the descent started bumpy and didn’t improve until the second or third bounce of the landing.  Sagan was largely unaffected, Al was a trooper, as always, but I was something of a mess.  At landing a looked down at the glossy cover of the book I had been reading, and it was streaked with the sweat from my clenched hand.  Semi-ironically, the book is about travel of even greater distances and the section I was working through dealt specifically about the discomforts of being hurtled through the air:

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach


(As an aside, Mary Roach is awesome.  Part science writer, part humorist, she tackles topics including cadavers, the afterlife, and sex – separate books – with a wit, curiosity, and sensitivity all too often lacking even in pop non-fiction.)

So, as we landed mid-day the idea of walking to baggage claim was daunting.  Hitting mile repeats was hard to fathom.  But, by the time I got back home I knew that the only thing that would make me feel worse that doing the workout was not doing it.  And, surprise of all surprises, it was arguably my best ever session of mile repeats.  Like the prior Sunday, I was able to hit each of 5 in 6:22 but this time if felt better.  None of the all-encompassing, gut-checking, deep digging pain that I’ve come to expect 3 or 4 reps into that workout.  I finished the 5th mile absolutely certain I could do another rep or two without wrecking myself.  And that, after the nearly puke-inspiring flight just an hour before, after the hot, 20-miler two days prior, after a long weekend of less-than-ideal over-eating and interrupted sleep.  Go, Mike.

I routinely question what I’ll actually be able to do on race day.  At times, a 3:15 marathon seems like it should be a gimme but a lot more of the time it is hard to imagine how I’ll be able to hold the pace those last 5 or even 10 miles.  But if I knew that I could do it, what fun would there be in trying?



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