I’m ‘laying up’ and not liking it

I’m not really a golfer. I play on rare occasions, and I have a good time. A few hours outside with friends who don’t mind me hacking up the course is fine by me. But I’m no golfer.

I do understand the term “lay up.” In golf, it means to purposely hit short of the green because taking a long shot at that target presents too much risk: things like sand traps, water hazards or other obstacles that make otherwise sane people lose their minds. (It’s a lot easier for me to accept the fact that I suck; the fact that I don’t get mad on the course is a testament to that humble act of acceptance.)

Back in the real world, I laid up this week. And I’m not happy about it. Fine with the reasoning behind the decision, mind you, but not happy about it.

A view across the Arkansas River, looking into south Tulsa, from Turkey Mountain's Ho Chi trail.

A view across the Arkansas River, looking into south Tulsa, from Turkey Mountain’s Ho Chi trail.

I was out on the trails last weekend, plowing through the usual suspects of rocks, roots, hills and woods. My goal was to pound out about 10 miles. The weather was good, and the trails were in fine shape. I had time to spare. It didn’t really matter to me if it was 8 or 10 or whatever. I was just going to run for awhile, challenge myself and continue preparations for what was turning out to be an aggressive (for me) race schedule.

The one race that was giving me trouble was the upcoming Post Oak Challenge on March 2. There are a ton of races in this one of varying lengths, but the one I was eyeing was the 25K trail race. That’s about 15 miles, and would be a good-sized step up from what I’ve been doing as of late. I’ve got a nice-sized schedule of races after this one, too, including another trail event two weeks later. I was registered for that one, but not yet for Post Oak. I just wasn’t quite settled on the 25K. It’s not that I can’t do it. But with what style? If I had to hike half the thing, what would be the point?

Somewhere around Mile 6, I started to bomb. I did a winding, hilly 5-mile loop, then hit my personal fave, the Powerline Trail, for another mile or so, which ended with a quarter-mile hill climb. That always leaves me beat, but I can normally take a quick breather and soldier on.

This is about the place where the running gave way to bouts of hiking.

This is about the place where the running gave way to bouts of hiking.

And that’s what I did. But heading back on that last 2-mile stretch, my body felt heavy. My legs were lead. Joints were creaky. Man, I was just tired. I bagged it at 8.5 miles, went home and thought about how I felt. I realize that taper weeks always help with this, but I couldn’t help but to think that had this been the 25K, I’d still have about 7 miles left to go. I have no interest in limping across the finish line in last place just so I can get a medal that says I finished the race. Style over substance? Maybe.

So I logged on to the Post Oak’s website and registered for the 10K.

I laid up.

And I don’t feel good about it.

There are plenty of reasons I should. For starters, it fits in well with my training and race schedule. Two weeks after Post Oak, I do the Snake Run, a three-hour trail running event in which you try to go as far as you can in the allotted time (there’s also a six-hour event, but that’s not for me yet). A month after that is the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. I’ll be doing the half in that one.

The goal for the Memorial is to finish with a respectable time. So every race and every run between now and then is aimed at getting me stronger to achieve that goal, which hopefully will springboard into something bigger later in the year.

So the 10K at Post Oak makes sense training-wise. It also makes sense given my performance right now.

But still…

I know my body will thank me as I ramp up the intensity gradually over the next couple of months. However, laying up just seems kinda like weak sauce.

I’m reminded of a scene from the movie “Tin Cup” in which a supremely talented head case of a golfer played by Kevin Costner is presented with the opportunity to either lay up on a tough hole or try to make a ridiculously difficult shot to the green. He refuses to lay up and hits the green. But only after wasting a ton of shots where his ball repeatedly falls short, lands in a water hazard and costs him a tournament win.

Pride got him to the green, eventually. Pride also cost him the victory.

So I keep telling myself not to be prideful. Not to compare myself to some of my runner friends who can bust off 50K-, 50-mile and even 100-mile ultras. Sorry, but I’m just not in that league.

We’ll see if this strategy is correct. Or if I’ll be kicking myself when the 10K is over because only then will I realize that the 25K was well within reach (Route 66 reprise!). Or perhaps the shorter race will prove sufficient.

All I know is I’ll be running that one hard. I’ll have a bit of a chip on my shoulder. My cautious side often crops up in stuff like this, be it a race or a climb or whatever. But my pride hates laying up.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088


2 thoughts on “I’m ‘laying up’ and not liking it

  1. Hopefully you won’t regret it. Only we can tell what are bodies can handle. Sometimes we need just a little more training and sometimes people just have to except the fact that maybe distance running just isn’t in there game. I don’t know what category you fall in but one day you will push yourself enough to know. Me on the other hand, I am still trying to figure that question out. I have sights set on 50 miler but those thoughts linger in the back of my head if I am up for it or not. The fun part is finding out a lot of the time. Hang in there and keep running.

    • No worries there. I’m a big proponent in listening to your body. That comes first. I know I could ‘do’ a 25K, but at what cost, and in what style — those are other questions. I’m going to stick to my initial plan, though I’m ready for the possibility that by the time the end of my race occurs, I just might be kicking myself for not going longer.

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