“But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks”

This time last year, I’d set PRs or beaten my goal times in five consecutive races–two half marathons, a 10-miler, a 10K, and a 5K. It never occurred to me that those might stand as my PRs for a while.

Last summer when I signed up for my fall/winter distance races, I entered goal times that were ambitious but–I thought–doable based on my recent performances. Little did I know I’d spend the next six months dealing with three separate injuries that decimated my training. Not only did I not come close to last year’s successes, a couple of my races clocked personal-worst times. So I’ve taken to calling the last few months the Winter of My Discontent, from the opening lines of Shakespeare’s Richard III.

And it’s frustrating the hell out of me.

I’ve  been back at regular, consistent training for about three weeks now. And yes, I’ve improved from my dismal showing at 3M in January, both pace- and endurance-wise. But every training run reminds me just how much I’ve lost.

Last night we ran 1K repeats. This meant a one-mile run to the neighborhood starting point–this used to be the easy part, but now I find myself struggling up the hill, lagging behind everyone else–and then the workout. Run each 1K loop at 10K pace, take a 2-3 minute rest, then repeat. I ran five of them, but my average pace was almost a minute per mile slower than the pace I ran to PR the Cap 10K last spring.

Not only that, the furthest I’ve run since 3M is seven miles. Not ideal preparation for a 10-miler in a week and a half, no?

I’m planning to run eight miles on Saturday, but I’ll be on my own because most of my group is running a 5K instead. But I guess if I can run eight, I can run ten. So I am reasonably confident I can finish the 10-miler, but once again it will probably be my slowest attempt at that race.

I keep reminding myself that my only real goals are to finish the races I signed up for before I was hurt, and not get hurt again. But I have a habit of looking back, of comparing myself to others. And because last year’s races ended in almost respectable finish times, it’s hard to accept this regression.

But even Richard III points out that perhaps things will improve for me. Most people only quote that first line, but actually the next few lines offer a hint of optimism.

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.

Here’s hoping for a glorious summer, one in which I shake off the clouds and the bruises and dreadful marches.

Hey, I have an English degree. If I don't quote Shakespeare now and then, UT might take away my diploma.

Hey, I have an English degree. If I don’t quote Shakespeare now and then, UT might take away my diploma.

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