Here is me after my infamous 10k doing a selfie in the bathroom mirror because I’m still not too snap about selfies. For the record I’m not sure being pro at selfie is even on my to-do list. It’s not a great photo or work of art – it’s confirmation. My point is, and I do have one, is that I finish my 10k. That was my goal, right? I start training in earnest three weeks before the race. Or rather, I chose a race to enter so that all my waddling here and there can serve a higher purpose. See my cool medal? Yes! I finish, happy Fourth of July 2017, to me and to you. I persisted.
About six weeks before my 10k I decide to re-start running. Against my own better judgement I start stupidly. I run my little heart (actually and not metaphorically) out farther than I can really go. I’m already nursing a calf muscle injury. Ignoring the pain I push, chiding myself that two miles shouldn’t be enough to knock the snuff out of anyone. Ha! So much for beating myself up. Limping to my car I’m forced to reconsider. I’m suffering enough pain to put anyone but a former runner off the sport. Do I give up? No, I change gait. I trade all out gallop for jog/walk. If even run-walk is currently inaccessible, start with simple walk. Just don’t give up. If I can, you can, given the right schedule. Walking one minute for each three jog, I manage two miles easily. No pain, no bane.
Over the next three weeks I experiment. When I feel peaked I walk two to every three minutes of jogging. That turns out to be inefficient. The next day I trot four minutes to every one minute walk. I also work three-ones uphill with non-stop on my downhill trail running. After three weeks the idea of entering a race attracts me. I chose Newhall Independence Day 10k 100% on location, location, location, wishing to be close enough to drive without having to pay for a hotel room overnight. In retrospect I should have chosen something slightly larger than a 200 person event. I’m immediately self-conscious about my 15 minute per mile pace.
With no desire to make ass I check out out and practice on the actual course. Amazingly I shave minutes off my pace. I guess I did not realize what a difference running up hill is to running flat. That’s cool. Having a goal makes all the difference between the first three weeks and the second three weeks of training. I no longer work out in my free time rather I free up time to work. Recovery days are imperative to the over 50 runner. I only run six days a week. Once a week I run 10k. The three pre-race @ 1:23:19, 1:23:05 and 1:17:30. Five days I vary, either working on improving the distance I run without walking, or improving total distance or improving speed. When I hit 1:17:30 five days before today I imagine finishing under an hour fifteen minutes is a reasonable goal.
My inner grownup can do without the cheesy fake medal. (Every finisher receives one.) Yay for equal rights. It hangs in my closet even now. I like the mesh shirt. Back in the 80s when I ran we have cotton ones, which chafe when sweaty. ouch. In my youth I also used to run in shorts. Now I have real gear. I recommend compression pants to even a beginner. They are designed to coddle and swaddle muscles for optimal performance. I notice the difference when charging uphill. Note bene, if you aren’t charging up the hills you don’t know what yer missing.
Unfortunately, this morning, I wake up with cramps, low fever and a sore throat. Oops. I, for the briefest of moments consider not going. Then I figure why not get my name, at least, in the record book? I can still get a baseline time – something to compare myself to, if I will at least do myself the courtesy of showing up. Forty minutes later I’m in the bathroom of Peet’s wondering at my own cluelessness. Ten minutes after that I’m fighting the maze of closed streets due to the Fourth of July parade. How will I find the start line? Siri. A heart-pounding ten minutes after that I run to the start line (I swear I don’t make this shit up) to arrive three minutes before the gun. I have to push myself through the elite runners to get to my rightful place at the back, lol.
I end up in the middle of the pack which isn’t a good strategy. Psychologically I sense I am going slower than usual as waves of people pass me. Young people, old people, women with strollers. Even a pair of walk-runners pass me. Due to the stress of feeling slower by comparison I pace like an amateur, going faster on the first three miles than I do on the last three. oops. I wish I had trusted my inner clock timer. My splits on the way out put me in 199th place, on the way in? 190th place. My pace on the way out was 11:34 per mile, my pace on the way back nearly a minute longer at 12:27. All of which means lots of people poop out. That ain’t right. If I’d gone a consistent 12 minutes a mile I would finished nearly half a minute faster. Chances are though, a slower 12 minute mile on the way out would have boosted the last three miles to a faster, under 12 minute clip.
I stagger the last two kilometers, cursing my inept pacing. At about half a kilometer to finish one final runner passes, a much older man. I use the back of his rapidly disappearing black trunks as a magnet to tow myself in. About 100 yards from the finish I’m grimacing like a woman afraid of losing control of her bowels. Just finish Kumari, I tell myself. Forget about time, remember the original goal: Just finish. Fifty yards from finish I spot a friend I can wave to – look at me ! Last in line just like I anticipated. I watch my new friend the older man approach the finish when I spot the clock at 1:14:56. Holy Cow! I can still make my goal of under 1:15! I race to end with unexpected vigor. Gun time of 1:14:59, actual chip time (which takes into account the time it took me to get to the start line) 1:14:42. I feel authentic well-earned pride for my new personal best.
Today marathon, tomorrow mammogram! Next week biopsy.
Now y’all play nice!