Back in mid-October, I joined a challenge from my Pastor to men in my church to "improve the temple" ... in other words, to get fit. What he primarily had in mind was losing weight ... what I primarily had in mind was to be able to run 3 miles in 30 minutes, an aribrary benchmark at the time. I had no idea what "5K" was ... and I certainly knew that running a marathon was on the list of most outlandish things that I could possibly imagine.
The next day, I got on a treadmill at the fitness center here where I work ... and I ran until fear and ignorance and fatigue prompted me to slow to a walk after 4 minutes ... but I was on my way. And, not knowing anything else, I committed myself to, each time I got on the treadmill, running for 1 more minute ... simple!
When I did realize that 3 miles and 5K were about the same thing ... and that 5K races were pretty common, I caught some kind of bug that I'm still carrying with me to this day ... I signed up for and ran my first 5K in San Francisco on the Sunday after Thanksgiving to end my annual trip to the Bay Area that weekend. I had only worked myself up to being able to sustain running for about 18 minutes ... not nearly enough to get thru 5K at my plodding pace ... but after 2 stretches of walking to catch my breath, I finished that first 5K in 33:30 ... transistion from "on my way" to "on the board" ... still short of my goal (which had a deadline of January 5th), but for the first time, I did feel like that goal was do-able ... hunh, how about that?
Next up was another 5K in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park a few days before Chirstmas ... this time with Gary Gan, a classmate from Stanford, whose in-laws lived just blocks north of where we'd be running, so his whole family came for the event, and his oldest son, who had run some cross-country in high school, joined us also. I remember seeing them slowly pull away from me right from the start ... and then learning that Gary got a taste of that experience as his son pulled away from him about mid-race. A 30:27 finish meant that I had met my goal ... for the 3.1 mile race, 30:27 is sub-10-minutes-per-mile pace! A little more training and my first dose of encouragement from Gary and his son had pushed me into new territory!
And I had 5K/GO Fever bad, still ... and went ahead with plans to run another 5K on that Christmas holiday trip to the Bay Area ... on New Year's Day in Santa Rosa ... a "Resolution Run" ... put on by the local runner's club ... with the start/finish line at the high school which my brother-in-law graduated from! And as I was stretching in prep for the race, a rumor got confirmed when my sister, Alyson, showed up ... READY TO RUN! Well, one outrageous turn deserves another, I s'pose. What I remember about that race was not knowing where the route was and standing at what I thought was the back of the pack talking to Aly when the gun went off and everyone started running and I was really standing right on the starting line (just off to one side) ... hey ... so long, Aly ... see you later! But being in front was not kind to me ... when I crossed a chalk mark in the street that said "1 mile", my watch said 8:43 ... could that be??? Well, yes ... as evidenced by all the people who proceeded to pass me non-stop for the rest of race as I totally ran out of gas. But I finished in 29:30 ... and another milestone/barrier was broken! After gulping down a few bottles of water and scarfing a few bananas, I was fresh as a daisy ... well, fresh as a wilted daisy, perhaps ... and I started walking back up the course until I met up with Aly and did the run/walk thing with her for about the last 1/3-mile ... after which we shared both smiles and groans as we basked in the thrill of our accomplishment and the aches in our legs. 2008 was off to a terrific start ... and my goal had been met!
Oregon in winter is not really conducive to running ... but I continued to pound the treadmill and eliptical machines indoors at the fitness center. I found 2 races to run down in Eugune ... the first was a pretty fun event called the "Winter Predictor" ... runners were not allowed to wear stop watches and the "winner" would be the person who most closely predicted their finishing time ... with the key wrench being that the race was 6K (rather than the normal 5K). It was a cold, cold morning ... pockets of ice on the sidewalks ... but all the runners just bundled up and had a good time ... with some nice hot chili and chicken soup served at the finish line .... hmm, hmm, good! I guess I wasn't feeling confident when I predicted 39:53 ... but came in right at my 10-min-per-mile pace with a 36:42 finish ... so whilest I didn't win the "predictor" event (the winner was just off by 1 second!), I was certainly please that I pushed my abililty to do my 10min/mi pace out to 3.71 miles. The next event was 2 weeks later ... and was 4 miles long ... so stretched it out just a bit further ... and my 38:37 finish proved to me that I had really left the 10min/mi pace behind ... so, what's next?
I wanted to run a race in my hometown, Corvallis, so I found a 5K to be run on the OSU campus. Wanting to continue to stretch myself, and calculating on google maps that the starting line was only about 3 miles from my apartment, I decided to jog to it! All was well ... until about half way thru the race and it started to absolutely *pour* ... still managed to finish in 29:32 ... so not a record, but, given the 3-mile warm-up jog and the inclement weather, I still chalked it up as a success. But, given how wet I was, I think it was wise that I bailed out (pun intended?) on plans to jog home, and just caught a bus, which I did have to run a bit to catch, btw :-)
I don't remember when I first got the idea ... but many days I found myself surfing running web pages and dreaming at the all the events I could do ... and I knew I was going to Phoenix for spring training baseball, so I checked to see if they had a race that looked fun in March ... and what I found was a Half Marathon ... gulp! But the interesting twist was that you could enter it as a relay team! Surely I could find some suckers to run it with me? YES! For reasons beyond my comprehension, the date worked out for both Paul Fisher, another Stanford classmate, from Seattle, WA, and Dan Lynch, a counsin from Franklin, TN ... and so we converged on the Usery Mountain Recreation Area and had at it! Many things about that weekend were fantastic ... starting with how the breakdown of our relay assignments worked out. I was ready to try a 10K ... so I took the first 2 legs ... Dan was in training for an upcoming Half Marathon and he wanted to do about 7 miles at a run-walk pace, and so he did that for the 2nd-half of the Half Marathon ... and Paul, breaking out of a near-30-year running slumber, was only interested to get his feet wet for 5K ... so we gave him the uphill-finishing-5K-leg ... which he naviagated quite quickly to a 9th place finish for our team (LynchMob) in the Open Men's division! And then what proved most fun for me was that, after running my 10K in 1:02 (with 31:00 + 31:00 splits ... right at 10min/mi!), I was good to go and finish the Half Marathon keeping up with Dan's run-walk pace ... WHAT A BLAST that was! So I actually ended up doing a Half Marathon in 2:28 ... what? Yup, that's right, folks ... I put a Half Marathon on my resume! The scenary out in the Arizona desert and inspiration and movitation and encouragment from both Dan and Paul was AMAZINGLY powerful ... and that time doing the run-walk with Dan just *flew* by, that was actually *fun*. Taking our picture after the race, we were all beaming and flaunting our medals ... which we even wore to the spring training baseball game that afternoon ... sweeeeeet!
That event took over a week to "recover" from ... but the stiffness/soreness in my left heel/achilles finally did work it's way out .. but I did let that kinda be an excuse to ease off the running a bit ... that, combined with playing some golf in April, got me convinced to just be in "maintenance mode" for a while. As my next scheduled event approached, and a few stretches of non-rainy weather occurred, I did get energized to get out and pound the pavement and prep for it a bit. That event was today, the 5K portion of the Eugene Marathon ... which I signed up for way back in December, and even talked a good friend, Marv Newcombe, into doing ... and egging him into signing up for the Half Marathon ... his first attempt at such a feat (after several years of getting himself into shape by running 3-5 miles at a pop, but never doing a "race"). We enjoyed our trip yesterday down to the "expo" to pick up our race packets with bib's and chip's ... staples of the modern mega-race. I got up at 4am (really woke up at 330am with the coming excitement just preventing any more sleep) ... scarf'd a banana and granola bar and drank a bunch of water ... and then headed out pick up Marv ... and his running buddy whom he'd talked into doing the Half Marathon ... and *his* running buddy whom he'd talked into doing the Half Marathon! Seriously, my pastor's enthusiasm to "improve the temple" had trickled down, in this case, to a 4th generation! See what encouragement, and friendship can do? Yes, that does scare me. We got down to the race finish area at University of Oregon's Autzen Stadium about 530 and by 6 had shuttled to the starting line at UofO's Hayward Field (site of this summer's US Olympic Trials!) ... and joined the 6000-or-so other runners in the mass of humanity who were stretched out and primed to GO, GO, GO! The Half Marathoners went off at 7am ... and I started the 5K at 715. You can see the details of my run at this web site
... thanks to the wonders of the new Garmin 305 heart-rate-monitor / GPS-enable stop watch that I had gotten just a few ago (Marv and his bud both had this also). The summary page shows I ran 3.12 miles in 28:23 for a 9:06 pace ... YOWZA! If you click around a bit, you can get several flavors of graphs, many of which have the option to superimpose heart-rate on it ... which shows that mine got up into the low-180s by the end. I'm not confident of the calibration of the HRM, but suffice it say that I was *gas*d by the end of the race. But I'm also not sure about 28:23 time. The most troubling part of the whole event was the fuzzy finish line ... first there was a blue chip mat .. then an overhead banner that said "finish line" ... and then a pair of blue chip mats after that ... and it was putting my foot on the first of that second set of blue chip mats that seemed to "beep" an indication that I had indeed finished ... but I stop'd my watch when hit that first mat ... so I'm going to be interested to see my "chip time" when the results finally get posted. I'm guessing it will be a couple of seconds more than 28:23 ... whatever. But the other troubling/confusing thing about finish time is what you see if you look at the "Laps". I have the watch program'd to "auto lap" every mile ... well, that data shows I only ran 3.06 miles ... and did so at 9:12 + 9:26 + 9:15 for the first 3 miles ... so it's not clear to me how I could have finished with a 9:06 pace. And those lap splits more closely align with my perception of how I was doing ... when the watch said I had run 1-mile, I knew was around 9:10ish ... and just under 19:00 for 2-miles ... and I know I picked up the pace a bit for the 3rd mile. Eh, I need to use this new-fangled HRM/GPS thingy and see I can figure out any patterns to the noise in the data. For now, it sure is closeenough ... and it's fun data to have during the run ... and it's fun to look at afterwards, especially the route superimposed on a google map
!A few pics of the gang before and after
and a couple of videos of Marv, at about 9.2 miles
and at the finish
... a day to remember.
Anyway today's results get sliced, it took another step to my next goal ... a 9min/mi pace! That seems do-able ... asumming I put in some work and really "train". Can and will do!
I'm hoping that next up will be a 15K in Coronado, CA ... the place I was born ... on July 4th. I've spent the 4th of July down in San Diego for the past 3 years ... so that part of it is now an annual trip (pilgrimage?) to visit my best friends, Al & Cindy Cullins. As an added bonus this year, Al's brother, Larry, is expecting his first child right around that time, and so I'm very much looking forward to seeing them also. My goal for the 15K will be sub-1:30 ... ie. doing 3 sub-30-minute 5Ks back-to-back-to-back. I may not be fast, but I'm gonna see if I can "go long"!
As I know you all know, my ultimate goal this year is doing the US Half Marathon in San Francisco. Again, Gary Gan is signed up to do that with me. He's scheming to do a Half Marathon prior to that ... he's been doing some serious training in prep for that until he was recently derailed just a bit with a calf injury. You know, one of the aliases that "running" turns out to have is "injury and risk management". There's injuries underfoot, literally, for each of us while we work on staying fit, and have fun running race. It's just part of the process, pure and simple. Perhaps it's nature's way of saying "hey, you, take a break"? My plan on how I'll try to handle that when it happens to me is to "think long term". I'm gonna do races again next summer ... perhaps expand out to "spring triathlons" (about a 1/2 hour swim, plus about a 1/2 hour bike ride, plus a 5K) ... yo! Perhaps a marathon??? No way, right? No way, right? Hmmm ... I'll just say this ... I've got the bug ... I've got the fever ... and my best friend has run a marathon in 5 hours and 15 minutes ... and I'm pretty sure I can beat that time :-) :-) :-) Now *that* is what it's all about!
UPDATE: Results of the 5K http://www.onlineraceresults.com/race/view_race.php?race_id=7581
... 28:24 is my official time ... 9:10 pace ... BOOK IT! But, in my heart and mind, I'm feeling like I did 5K in 28:46ish = 9:17 pace ... still success ... and still feeling like a 9min/mi pace is within reach!