5K in 33:26

August 4, 2013

For months I have been preparing for yesterday’s 5K race, hoping to beat my time from last year. Until last week, though, I remembered wrong how long it took me last year, and thought I just needed to finish in about 36 minutes or so.

Then I went back and checked last year’s time: 36 minutes, 29 seconds. How had I managed that? (I remember being equally surprised last year when I was told my time upon finishing.) My best time in my recent runs averaged about eleven and a half minutes per mile.

That would put me under 36 minutes, but not my much. What if I couldn’t push myself nearly to exhaustion as I did last year? (Last year I ran with someone who kept pushing me to keep going, and it was easier to put my energy into complying than arguing I couldn’t do it.)

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Runners who inspire

April 25, 2013

Last month I came across an article about a man who had recently won a marathon. I’m not sure which is more surprising – that he did so while pushing his six-year-old daughter in a stroller, or that he did it despite suffering from terminal brain cancer.

Iram Leon sometimes gets disoriented during a race, vomits, or blacks out. But he runs because “When I’m in a race, when I’m climbing a hill, for a few moments it feels like I’m pulling ahead of my problems.”

Another inspiring runner is Anne Mahlum, who was the closing speaker at the software conference I attended recently in Philadelphia. She had started running as a teenager, and found that it helped her get through a difficult time in her life.

Ten years later, she got the idea to start a running club for some homeless men, after several days of exchanging brief greetings with them as she ran by them. People told her that homeless people don’t run, but the men who joined her club disproved that claim.

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5K in 36:29

August 11, 2012

About twenty-five years ago I ran a 10K race. I wasn’t a fast runner then, and I’m a good deal slower now at age 50. But I achieved one things in this mornings 5K race that I didn’t manage then – I did better than the goal time I had set for myself.

I had been training for a good deal longer back then, and I had hoped to average an 8 minute mile. I don’t remember what my 10K time was, but I know it was well over 49.7 minutes.

I just started training for today’s race a couple of months ago, after not having run at all since my mid-20’s. At first it felt discouraging to be so much slower than I used to be, and I imagined what a pathetic old slowpoke I must look like to anyone watching me jog past, breathing hard even at such a slow pace.

But once I could jog over a mile without having to take a break to walk and catch my breath, I started to find some of the satisfaction I remembered from the activity. I’ve never been good at any sports, lacking speed, strength, coordination and – most important – interest.

I did try really hard to get better at basketball my senior year of high school, after having a friend at camp during the summer who encouraged me to play. But getting my arms and legs to work together for a lay-up shot was more than I could manage, no matter how many times I tried.

The nice thing about running is that it doesn’t require much in the way of coordination. As long as I can keep putting one foot in front of the other, I’m making progress. Of course, I don’t always succeed even at that. Two weeks ago, I tripped on a crack in the pavement and fell face-first. But at least I’m persistent. I got up and finished my run, oblivious to the blood dripping down my elbow.

And as I find myself tiring and my breathing comes harder, I know that I can still keep pushing myself forward. I never questioned whether I could finish today’s race, only how long it would take me. The last three runs (or should I call them jogs?), I finished 3K in 24 minutes. I hadn’t gone as far as 5K, and figured my speed could only go downhill after the first 3K. So the best time I expected for today was 40 minutes.

That’s probably about what I would have done if I had been running on my own. But this morning I ran alongside a co-worker, Steve, and his wife for most of the course. Near the end his wife must have gotten a burst of energy because she took off ahead of us. I’m sure Steve could have matched her stride (if not for a recent injury, he estimated he would have been doing a 7-minute mile).

But he stayed with me, constantly encouraging me. Near the end of the race, another co-worker, Jeremy, who had finished already, came back and jogged with us to encourage me also. At the time, I thought I would have preferred to run in silence (except for the sound of my labored breathing). But I probably did push myself more with them on either side of me than I would have on my own.

I did get a nice burst of (relative) speed the last fifty feet or so, and crossed the finish line looking (I hope) less exhausted than I felt. Steve had been telling me I’d finish in well under 40 minutes, but even so I was surprised when he told me my time.

Now I have to decide what goal to set for next year’s race.


0 – 5K

June 3, 2012

At work some weeks ago, our department’s “health committee” (the corporation sponsors a variety of programs/activities aimed at getting employees to adopt healthier habits, with a committee in each location coordinating activities they choose) started advertising something about “0-5K.” I had no idea what it might mean.

It turned out to be training for a 5K race in August. I had heard of 10K races before (and ran one back when I was in my mid-20’s), but not 5K. It is open to both runners and walkers, and I could easily walk 5K. Doing something like that with other health-minded co-workers sounded interesting. I signed up. Read the rest of this entry »