International Drive 5K and other national encounters

Garage Gym. Before I tell you daily musings and big news I have to say to Jon in MI that nothing could make my anticipation of the garage gym more enticing than imagining it in the same way as it served its purpose in American Beauty. I loved that flick.

PR History. There was a time - in the begining - when I decide to run seriously again. It was the fall of 1999 when my older son joined his cross country team at high school. His effort sparked mine and brought back memories of the cross country club I helped start in my high school days. We formed the club because it was a boys boarding school with strict rules that harbored few excuses to leave campus. Well there was a girls school 7 miles away - straight up a mountain - so you can understand why I formed the XC club; but that's another story and I digress.

In the fall of 1999 I put on some old Reebok walking shoes and started running. I ran my first race, a 5K, in January of 2000. My records indicate I ran that very first 5K in 24.22 which became the dreaded 5K PR I could never beat. Now, granted, I am not getting younger but I surely wasn't so swift of foot in worn down walkers coming off no more than three months of training; or was I? For six years I have suspected I made a transcription error in recording my time or I lied to myself for some stupid reason. I could digress into that dark well too but will not for the sake of brevity. Well, I didn't believe the number was real because it took me three years before I even came within a minute of that PR time and another year to close within 20 seconds of it. Yet it existed and I could not bring myself to delete it. It was the curse.

I-Drive 5K. This morning I woke up late to run that little 5K I was aiming for. I overslept by 20 minutes but was relaxed, had time and ate a Snickers peanut butter marathon energy bar with a bottle of water on the drive down.

With 20 minutes until the start I went for a 9 minute warm-up run and found the first half mile of the course would be downslope. I registered the thought that that meant there was an upslope somewhere along the way too (Smart, huh?). I stood about 20 feet back of the start line where all the shirtless fasties were staring down the road ready for the horn.

There it is and off we went. I quickly realized I was running fast. My form was a little ragged. My breathing was edgy. If I was a race car I'd say my chassis was a little loose. I tried to regulate the breathing and focused on my foot strikes. I have found in recent training that barefoot running had me rolling from outer heel to inner ball joint to absorb shock and minimize unknown beach debris. Back on roads I focused on landing the foot flat and straight. It shortened the time my foot was on the ground and increased my pace. I stuck with that. First mile marker ahead: 7:31.0. WHAT!???? Oh cr*p. It was 75 degrees out and humid as all get out and I was on the fastest first mile pace I'd ever been on. And remember that upslope? I had forgotten until then and now knew there was doom ahead.

Onward. Still a little loose but feeling strong from all those long runs I've put in recently. There's no breeze. It's hot. No shade. Mile 2 marker ahead: 7:34.5. Holy moly. I started thinking about a PR. Could I bring this old sled back into the garage and PR? As I trekked on I tried to do the math in my head to figure out how much time I could spare. I turned a corner and there was a breeze again.

As nice as the cool air was it wasn't helping my legs. They were slowing. I took the stroke down a little to save what I had for the end. I thought I saw the last turn ahead. A mirage. The pack was still running straight. I slumped in stride and took a long time to recover mentally.

When I did reach the real corner I felt good. Now how long would this final stretch be? It couldn't be too far. Wow - there's the finish lane! I refocused on form and efficient running despite the upslope. Third mile: 8:18.8. Okay, you bonked, dummy. Across the line: 24:17.0! Ladies and gentlemen, the PR ghost of 2000 has retired.

I was so pumped I stayed around for the awards ceremony. I finished 5th in my age group which was the best I've ever done. I chatted with some younger fasties who placed in their age groups. Gosh, I felt like a racer, not just a runner.

Of course, Jon in Michigan can pop out a 24.17 without breaking a sweat while carrying a piano on his back, so I remain humble.

Little League Flashback. On the way home I drove by the local Little League park. The Reds looked like they were about to play a game. Being a reformed Little League dad I was drawn to the field to see if a young man named Martinez was playing today. His dad and I ran another little league 10 years ago when my oldest and his oldest were playing on the same team. I was the league president and he was my vice president. We hadn't seen each other in several years while he was living in Virginia.

Sure enough it was the Reds. Sure enough young Martinez was easy to spot in the dugout. He looked just like his older brother did at 11. I looked around for his dad and spotted him on a cellphone pacing the field beyond the center field fence. Just before game time, Dad came over and we greeted each other and reminisced about the good old days spent at ball fields. From there we talked family, sports, business, politics and the filibuster he'll be leading in the U.S. Senate next week. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) said we can tune in on CSPAN2 from 10pm to midnight on Tuesday if we really want to watch him carrying it on. Sounds riveting to me; yawn.

So it's been a nice day so far. Maybe I'll go out and swim in the pool for awhile. Bd-bd-bd-bd-bd-bd, that's all folks!


susie said...

Well, congratulations David. A well-deserved PR, I'd say. You've been building to this all year, and you did it. You must feel great; I am so proud of you! I am inspired by you:) Now go jump in the pool, grab a beer, and enjoy yourself!

Wil said...

Wow! That's a crazy fast time! You are an awesome runner!!!

Excellent job, you must be so excited. This is the kind of stuff that is helping me get my head in check for the marathon in two weeks, thanks for the inspiration!

Jon (was) in Michigan said...

Sweet! Totally slammed that one! And in the heat too. That always makes it 1000 times harder.

You know it only gets faster from here, right? :)

Bex said...

Most excellent job there, Dave. All of that training paid off! And you PR'ed in the humidity and heat, to boot. Okay, you deserve some chocolate/beer/barbecue - whatever you eat to congratulate yourself on a job very very well done.

And going back to my 3X post - you're right - I actually love eggs. :-)

Mia Goddess said...

Well then, it doesn't even matter any more if the first PR was legitimate! You crushed it, and that's awesome. I liked this post a lot. It was... "sweet" I think is the word I'm thinking of. - Mia

Running Chick said...

Excellent race! A well-deserved and well-earned PR!

beverly said...

Awesome! I loved this post ... all of the perspective in it. Good on you, David! :)

Rachel said...

That's a wonderful time, David! A PR to be proud of...and in the heat and humidity, too! Think of what you could do in the winter, when the weather gets really nice again...

frolicking filly said...

I loved reading about your race, thank you for sharing that with us.

Noames said...

Just tuned in to catch up on your blog, and found this. Congratulations on a hard-earned, and super impressive PR!

And, btw, I love how you slipped in that your friend was a Senator. A filibuster may be boring to watch, but it's awfully cool to know someone who's actually doing the filibustering. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and all. :)