About a month and a half ago I committed to run in the Derby Festival Marathon (April 26th, 2008) with a few other morons from Mason and Hanger. (see the About page for why) To seal the deal I went out and bought a good pair of shoes (now I have to run). Additionally, we decided to run for a charity. This means other people are counting on us, so I guess this thing is for real. Our official training starts on January 7th, 2008. Wait a minute, I have not run over 3 miles in over 20 years! What have I gotten myself into!
20 years ago, running 3 or 4 miles a few time a week did not seem like much of a challenge. I was an athlete. I ran all the time. I ran Cross Country and the 2 mile in track. It’s like riding a bike. Wrong, wrong, wrong!
I had new shoes, I had new shorts, I new sweats. I was ready. I stepped out the door, stretched out those hammies, calves, and quads. I tried to touch those toes, but it seems that there is a bit of an obstruction about half way down that not only obscured my view of the little piggies, but also seemed to get in the way of that natural folding point also know as the waist. Well, no big deal, I don’t run with my mid section anyway. I walked down the hill to my pre-measured, ½ mile, block.
After a few minutes of talking to myself and jumping around to limber up, I started off. I fell right into my old cross country pace and breathing patterns. Just like the bike! About 20 steps later, I began to wonder why I was trying to run the 100 yard dash. I slowed down a bit. 10 paces later, I remembered abdominal breathing and realized that my abdomen was supporting other burdens and was not interested in helping me breathe. Better slow down some more. 30 paces later, my knees were really beginning to feel that ½ % grade. Better take a little more off that pace. I didn’t see them, but someone must have snuck-up and thrown a bucket of liquid on me, because all of my clothes were soaked. Can’t run quite so fast with all this extra liquid. Well, at least I am about half way around the block (maybe 400 yards, old days, 60 seconds). I dragged myself around the rest of the block. I never walked, but I sure wanted to.
In 1980, I ran the anchor leg of the 4×800 meter relay at the state championships in Maryland. I ran my 800 meters (1/2 mile) in 1 minute and 59 seconds. 27 years later I struggled through a 1/2 mile in a staggering 6 minutes and 52 seconds. Needless to say, I was not encouraged. But I did not give up.
Our team read a book, Ultra Marathon Man, which helped keep me going. The key motivational phrase I came away with; “If I don’t hurt after a run, I didn’t work hard enough.” Well, I hurt, so it was good training. Over the next month I ran 3 to 4 times a week. For two weeks I increase my speed and distance every run. One month after I started, I ran 5 miles finishing up with that same half mile at twice the speed. I will probably never run a 5 minute mile again, but at least I know that I can always do a little better.
It still hurts when I run, but it is the hurt of muscles complaining about years of neglect. Those muscles never seem to let me forget that they need constant attention. The real training is convincing my will that he is king.
Tomorrow I run a 5 mile run with “the guys”. (pre-season) I am at least ready for that. I’ll let you know how that goes. Monday the real race begins.