The clock and I have a complicated past.
I've written in the past of my struggles with working out and the scale. Working out was my license to eat and if I knew I wasn't going to be able to squeeze in a run or time at the gym, I struggled to allow myself to eat a meal. I drove those nearest and dearest to me insane with my constant obsessing over food and when I'd be able to work out next.
Like any solid relationship, my involvement with running has grown and matured into a healthy, beautiful thing. I clock miles not because I feel like I have to, but because I know that I can. The ability to train for a distance event is no longer a way for me disguise an obsession with food, rather it's something I do because I am strong and able. But it's not always peaches n' cream. Sometimes I worry about the previous run or the next, because now that I'm done worrying about calories burned, I fret about my pace.
Mainly, the issue is that if I clock several really strong runs in a row, it's really hard for me to reel it in for a longer run and not gas out after an hour and twenty minutes. It's hard for me to shift out of tempo mode and into SLD, mostly because when I'm limited to 3-4 runs a week I can't justify easy miles to myself. Long distance is not really an issue for me. If I have my tunes I can go all day... if only I could just slow it down!
Let me use another car equation (you can thank my husband, the motorhead, for that): Let's say you normally obey all traffic laws, but you car just happens to really enjoy doing 75 mph. Suddenly, you realize you're getting low on gas and since you're in the middle of nowhere, you've gotta make what you have last until the next gas station. In order for your car to operate at its most efficient, you really ought to drive 55 mph, and not one bit faster. This will feel painfully slow and annoying to the driver used to going 75.
Same for me. My legs tend to settle into a 7:30/7:45min per mile pace. I enjoy going that quickly. I can go that fast for about 8-10 miles but after that I start to gas out. And I struggle to find ways to extend that pace for a few more miles to make my 1:40 goal for the half marathon which means - at least for now - that I ought to consider slowing down to maintain an even, albeit slower, pace. I don't like that answer.
Or maybe I'm over thinking things and need to just let the excitement and atmosphere of race day carry me through the miles and across the finish line. There have been a number of races that I thought I wasn't ready to PR in that I wound up finding the strength and stamina just by being among other runners.
Are you a clock-watcher or you do you just run by feel?
What was the best race you thought you weren't prepared for, but wound up surprising yourself at the finish?