Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Marathon Charity Corporation

My Couch to 5K Training Program is over. In January, after a year of inactivity due to injury, I joined a 5K program for beginning runners put on by the Marathon Charity Corporation in Arlington.

It was kind of boring, actually. We met outside a locked Mall every Saturday morning and ran/walked 4 miles around the same huge block that girdled the commercial establishment, each complete passage constituting a mile. By the time we finished our four laps, the Mall was open and we'd go inside for coffee.

After a couple of weeks of pure walking, our walk/run ratio started at four minutes walking followed by one minute running. Sixteen weeks later we finished up at one minute walking followed by four minutes of running. It was sort of like a NASCAR race, except that we were always run/walking turn-right whereas race-car drivers are always zoom/braking turn-left.

Midweek we were supposed to run/walk the same routine two or three other times. I always just jogged the damned distance three other times each week on the Mall with a coworker at a 10:10 pace.

The coach, an RRCA-certified trainer (as am I) who is also a five-hour marathoner, ascertained that I was in fact an experienced runner who was fast (relatively speaking). After awhile, I fell into running on Saturdays with Nick, the most fit and competitive of the inveterate group of seven athletes who kept showing up, and we'd leave everyone else behind and try to lap them. We never could, a mile is too much to make up in only four miles, especially when you walk part of the distance (everyone pretty much walks at the same pace so you make no headway then).

In March, I ran my target 5K race in Falls Church (the route went by my back door twice) in twenty-nine minutes and change (about a 9:25 pace). Finishing under thirty minutes was a huge relief since I used to break twenty-three regularly in 5K races. Everyone else ran/walked their target 5K race in April on a hilly course in Fairfax, with Nick and a few others bringing it home in forty-one minutes and the coach and the rest finishing in about forty-eight minutes. (Right: Me with my coach, John, in the vest, after my 5K race.)

About that time, the stress of the faster pace in the race and doing sixteen miles a week caused my lingering injury to flare up again and I went back to my specialist to insist that we had to try a more aggressive treatment than merely taking time off and wearing a brace. This led to a cortisone shot in my ankle (an instantaneous cure) with the promise of surgery to come if/when the pain comes back.

So after a few weeks of severely reduced running following the shot, now I'm back to running four miles four times each week. My ankle doesn't hurt anymore, but I can't say that things don't feel "suspicious" down there. Meanwhile, I'm trying to improve my conditioning/motivation. I cannot believe that I used to run training runs at an 8:30 pace, and although I love being back to running, it's hard to get out the door these days. I'm also trying to shed the ton of extra weight I put on during my year-plus of inactivity. I'm a third of the way there.

Thanks for getting me back in the game, MCC.


Danielle in Iowa in Seattle said...

Glad you met your 5k goal! There is something about 30 minutes - I'm sure the fast people feel the same way about 20 minutes...

Just_because_today said...

is that you in the picture #97?
must be hard to go back to a couch to 5K after being the runner you have been, but it's better than not running at all. Keep going