Back to the track, finally.
As I come back from my foot injury, my mileage and times have dropped dramatically, but I did get back to the track for the first time in half a year. After all, the date of the Chicago Marathon remains immutable. It hasn’t changed to accommodate my various ailments.
After my last 5K race early this month, I ran a few miles most days, albeit slowly. My foot was sore from the race. I did four miles with the novice group two Saturdays ago during the Ten-Mile Program that I direct. With half a mile to go, I ran hard back to our end-point so I could break out the fluids for the athletes, and that sprint felt good.
The next day I did a neighborhood mile in 7:35 to keep my hand in, then I did a pedestrian 2.1-miles in 18 minutes at 3 am when I couldn’t sleep because of the stifling heat built up in my unairconditioned house by the record heat wave. Some more desultory runs followed, until last Wednesday.
Wednesday is the day I lead a running group from work at noon. It was 102 degrees. No one showed. I ran two miles up Capitol Hill and called it a day. Umm, actually, that’s not true. At 7 pm I went to my club’s weekly track workout.
It was still 92 degrees but it felt like 99. I did eight spins (400 meters) around the track at varying paces. I saw runners I haven’t seen all year and caught up with them. I was reminded of the totem-pole nature of club running.
Not many people were there. Unbeknownst to me, the wimpy program director (kidding) had cancelled the workout because of the heat. At the track, I latched onto a group of fit-looking women running laps. One was the program director for a long-distance training program that our club puts on. I figured it’d be natural for us to talk since the 10-Mile Program that I direct, and her program, are both winding down.
Although she’s faster than me, I could keep up with her during the laps, which we were running in 1:37s. I tried to talk with her about getting t-shirts for our program finishers, the runner who went from her group to mine, what race she was getting ready for, etc. She wasn’t buying any of it. She motioned for me to stop talking to her until the recovery run. Fair enough.
I joked that if I could talk while running laps, I wasn’t running fast enough. She seemed to agree because she suggested that her group didn’t want to hold me back, so why didn’t I run alone? I remembered that the wonderful program director I had replaced had quit after a run-in with her. This is why I say attendance at track workouts involves knowing your place on the totem-pole. The better runners are there and there is a definite hierarchy.
I ran a few laps with a friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen in awhile, doing 2:05s. She talked with me and it was pleasant. She finished up and I ran my last two laps alone in 1:38 and 1:39.
I went home on the Metro. The commuters on the car looked at me in horror as I stood there in saturated running togs, dripping sweat. What are you gonna do? At least I didn’t sit down next to somebody.
Getting back to the track felt great.