Always Running

Hard to get back to get thoughts on paper when so much happens each week. After NYC, Las Vegas, Texas, California  … hurricanes, travel, meetings …. When I need the endorphins,  I kick up my running. So far, more like a slow jog, but been here before so I know where to go.  Each time I get out of shape, I swear I’ll never do it again because it is so much work to get back in shape. My excuse this go-around is work on my knee, but really I am just lazy and soft. Grew up running track and field. Fifth grade teacher got me interested, and that’s the first time I experienced “rig”, what we call the rigamortis of major lactic acid buildup, and my first race win.  Still enjoy the feeling of the race, the competition – lining up, mano-a-mano (and, women), first to finish wins, everyone else loses. Towards the end of my Army career, began training and competing in 5k and 10k races, still keeping a hand (or foot) on the track in the 800m and 400m. At the Pentagon, ran with the Potomac Valley track Club, in Hawaii trained and ran with the Hawaii Master’s Track Club. Got tired of getting beaten by folks who shouldn’t be beating me, I changed my lifestyle for a couple year, and added serious training. Once you experience the “high” of shorter distance races, you begin considering going longer. You may not do so, for many assorted reasons, but all of us consider it. Testing myself as I entered my 40’s, decided to run a marathon. Trained for eight months. Did all my own research, training, trial & error, but it wasn’t as if I hadn’t been running all my life. Did well in the Honolulu Marathon but cramped at 24 miles going back over Diamond Head. Pretty much limped to the finish. Think I ran a 3:45. Spent the rest of the day in the fetal position in pain.  Knew I could do it better, so I began training for the next year.  1o months, seven prep races of 10k’s, a couple half marathons, a couple 20k races, two 5k for speed work.  Training is important but races get you ready for a race – the jostling, the crowds, the adrenaline, the pre- and post-race timing.  Best workouts: 16 x 6-min miles on the track at Punahou HS in Honolulu, 4 min interval between miles seemed long at first, by the end of the workout time flew by right up to the next 6 min mile. Another was a Virginia 20-miler morning run on the W&OD bike trail from Arlington to Vienna and back, then off to work that day.  Race date dictates your preparation: when to work at which distance or speed, where to run (I run the entire marathon course in pieces to know the route and surface and chokepoints and such). Typically, I’ll drop body weight (slowly, to maintain strength) more for a marathon where you don’t want to lug around fat-weight than when we run on the track where you need a little bulk for the close-quarters and jostling.  Each race is different: start time and weather dictates last meal, what to eat, hydration, when to arrive, when to line up.  Nailed it. Ran the Marine Corps Marathon in 3:12 (which was actually like a 3:12:50).  Beautiful day – had been training in Hawaii 80 degree temps so the race start at 58 degrees in less humidity was perfect. Tied up going over the 14th Street bridge. Finished strong, then went to a family party, no pain because I was prepared and training properly. A month later for fun cruised the Honolulu Marathon again, this time in 3:30. The challenge of racing a marathon isn’t in the race. It is in the year or more of training, preparation, proper diet, sleep, cross training, cold- and hot-weather runs, bad weather, family events, travel, work.  Racing a marathon is actually anti-climatic. I knew my body so well by race day, that each time (except that first time) I predicted within 90 seconds my finish time.  Met my running goals, so I slacked. My body was tuned enough that I ran two more marathons after with little to no training, both around 3:30 going out and back over Diamond head.  Same time frame, won the Hawaii State masters 800m in a pedestrian 2:18. Never been about running for me.  Now, it is about having somewhat relatively clear lungs, maintaining my weight. Always been about the competition- against others and myself.

Racing on the track is a completely different animal.

Last year, got my left knee scoped. That’s my excuse for not running for a year. Just getting back, putzing through slow 2-3-4 mile runs, hardly a jog and what I would not consider a run for my run log just three years ago. .But, it feels good to be out again. I don’t think I’ll compete again. The pain, work, commitment is more than I have time or desire to endure. I am glad I competed. Normal people, mortals, cannot understand the need to line up, put yourself out there, go down on record – you win or you lose. Winning is best, but either is better than never trying.

Deciding to get back in as winter comes to the east coast isn’t particularly good timing.   It’s been cold, windy, rainy … “No need to give me excuses, I have thousands of my own.” Just do it.  One thing you get in distance that you don’t on the track: yesterday, I stopped at a small bridge over a creek while a deer (sort of oddly shaped three-point) crossed not six feet from me. In the city/suburbs, they are, obviously, pretty unafraid.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *