In the twilight hours of the morning Tuesday, I set out for an easy 4-mile run. The air was perfect - 40s and only a smidge humid - and the streets were quiet. Still.
As I wound my way through the familiar neighborhoods along the route, I forced myself to relax. Enjoy the run. Re-learn the feeling of going slow. More than anything, the goal was to go steady and never anticipate the breaks that come as roads cross. To achieve that feeling of wanting to run forever, a sensation that has been absent for far too long.
Traffic was beginning to pick up near the end of my run, as to be expected as the clock neared 6 a.m. and commuters were heading to work, and I was forced to stop at an intersection. I hit pause on my Garmin 305, which I had brought along to spice things up (as opposed to the MOTOACTV), and noticed something rather alarming. While my goal was to go slow, it wasn't to go slow and the watch said I was going slooow. In that instant, the run went from good to gruesome as I became frustrated with a pace I hadn't seen in quite some time.
I picked up the tempo as I headed back home, hoping to salvage what I could of the run. I hit stop as I sprinted to the house and looked down. 3.77 miles, the display read. It was a number I was certain was wrong, and I sprinted faster into the house to map the route on Daily Mile and MapMyRun. Both gave me a more palatable 4 miles with my long run pace from Wisconsin.
I posted about the discrepancy on Facebook, hoping to get some validation that I was right in trusting the mapping software and discounting the GPS. But, to my surprise, most were more likely to trust the watch. I didn't think much of it, to be honest, only telling myself that I should pick a watch, stick with it and deal with what it says - no matter how much I like it.
This morning, as I felt the dirt sift through my fingers while planting ground cover, I was struck. Not literally. But mentally. What if my penchant for double-checking maps to achieve a better distance and pace was my downfall for Wisconsin?
Hear me out. I thought I was running fast, for me. Nearly half of my runs in April were sub-9 and I even had a couple near the 8:30 range. But I'm certain that for some of those paces, I had double-checked (and adjusted) the distance, altering the pace. While the runs were still speedyish, they weren't as speedy as presumed nor were they runs that were setting me up for a sub-2, much less a PR, half marathon. And so I went into Wisconsin feeling bad ass when I should have been feeling ... well ... bad ass - just to a lesser degree.
Building on that, when I didn't have that grand, superstar finish, I should have felt satisfied that I had some remarkable splits. I should have recognized that those splits, faster than training would have predicted, contributed - at least in a small way - to my end-race bonking.
And the lesson? Well, it's what I promised myself. I need to stick to what the watch says unless the synced map is completely jacked and accept what my body is producing on a certain day but not resign myself to thinking that I don't have better in me.