Archive for August 11, 2011

Saturday morning, the Team 5K will mark our 13th and final race of summer.

Ten 5K’s, one 1-mile race, one 3K and our first sprint triathlon have all gone into the books since May 11th.  That’s a lot of racing in 94 days, essentially one every 7 or 8 days.  But that formula seems to be working for us as we spend our summers running shorter and faster events working to improve our top-end speed and then focusing on the longer endurance events like the half-marathon and marathon in the cooler Fall, Winter and Spring.

Closing 1/10 mile Sunstroke Summer Stampede Race 11

For the second year in a row we will be heading into September a faster runner than we were the previous year, something that as I enter the final year racing in the 40-44 year old age group, I was not so sure I would be able to pull off when we celebrated our 43rd birthday a little over one year ago.

I know that there is going to come a time, very soon actually, when I am no longer able to run as fast as I used to.  One benefit of taking up running later in life when I was already 38 years old is that I don’t have to compare myself to the days when I was an 18-year-old high school track athlete, or a 22 year-old college runner.

I don’t have memories of running a 4:30 mile or a sub 17:00 minute 5K.  My “glory days”as a runner are right now, pretty remarkable at 44.

5K Pace .... pain.

But I’m smart enough to know that the days of running fast are fleeting.  I am going to have to find other ways to stay motivated, to keep pushing, to enjoy myself and enjoy racing even when I know that “I used to be faster”.

Thursday morning I was out battling through my weekly hill repeat workout.  I was increasing the repetitions this week to 8X up to the top of the .35 mile long hill, climbing more than 60 feet at 5K race effort to the top, then jogging slowly back down to recover.  Repeat after repeat after repeat after repeat.

It was over 80 degrees and the humidity was 84%.  Soaked head to toe I could feel my feet squishing in my race flats as I powered up the hill for the sixth time.  On my way back down I saw a neighbor walking her dog.  I spend more than 45 minutes every Thursday running up and down the same hill which gives me an opportunity to meet a lot of neighbors and their dogs out for their morning walk.

This little guy was new to the routine however.  Just a puppy, not more than three months old he was tackling the same hill I was at 6:15 a.m. with a vengeance.  Tail wagging, tongue hanging out, straining at his leash – trying to make his way to the top of the long hill just as quickly as he could.

I smiled.

That is the way to attack a hill I thought.  I jogged to the bottom, turned to the right and came up on the manhole cover to mark the start of my climb and punched my watch.  Sweat flying, arms pumping, shorts sticking to my legs and feet squishing moisture out of my Brooks ST5’s with every stride.

I punched my watch, noted my split and turned back down the hill for a final repeat.  Number 8 on the morning.  One more than last week, one less than next week as we march toward 10 repeats and stay right there all the way to NYC.

I thought of Dom on the way up as the hill seemed to get steeper and steeper.  What was not necessarily “easy” just 30 minutes earlier had become much more difficult on the final repeat of the day.  I though about what things were like for Dom one year ago as he was now about to go into Hospice care.  His 15 month battle with cancer was just about to come to a close.  He would pass away on August 15th.

No need to feel sorry for myself or lament the fact that the wind was blowing straight downhill at me.  Nothing like adding a 12 mph headwind onto your 8th hill repeat of the morning.

I smiled for the second time when I reached the top and punched my watch.

They say it is the things that you do when nobody is watching you that reveal your character.

It is days like Thursday that remind me just how true that statement can be.

That last one was for you Dom.  I’ll be thinking about you on Saturday morning when we toe the line at our final race of the summer.  I’m a little beat up this week from three tough workouts, so I’m not exactly sure what the watch is going to say on Saturday.

Just know that whatever we have on Saturday is exactly how much we’re going to leave out there on the course.

Thanks for all the motivation and for the great examples to follow this past year.  We miss you more today than ever.