Friday, August 17, 2007

More Track Work

Yeah, I been running again. What, are you surprised? Shocked, maybe? After my first Track W.O. since the winter (last post), I fielded a call on Friday night from the mid-group volunteer coach in the TMG (Ten-Mile Group Program) that I direct for my club. She was sick.

Good (I mean, bad for her, sorry to hear it). Now I could really get a workout in, just like in the old days when I was a coach and would run the line from slowest to fastest of my group and back again and get a real workout in. That sort of "training" led directly to a 1:14 Ten-Miler PR last year and indirectly to a 3:50 marathon PR this year.

I plotted out a 7-miler for Saturday morning on the soft dirt C&O Canal Towpath in MD, from bridge to bridge, Key Bridge to Chain Bridge (and over Chain Bridge to VA for a moment and back to burn up half a mile). The appointed time came and off we went. I ran the line. It felt great. NBTR shepherded the novice group along the same route minus the dash over the bridge and I finished up running with her the last mile. She's running great, BTW. I figured I ran eight miles in 82 minutes.

That afternoon I hiked the Billy Goat Trail off the C&O and watched the death-defying rock climbers practice their skills on huge boulders. They think runners are crazy for running themselves into exhaustion; we think they're crazy for clinging to tiny crevices in sheer rock faces forty feet up. My hands aren't strong enough to do what they do, or maybe my heart isn't big enough. I admire them.

Sunday I made it over to Rock Creek Park where I jogged four miles in about fifty minutes through trails in its wooded ravines with a friend who is just starting up with running. I stopped to smell the roses along the way several times as we moseyed along. I am truly delighted whenever anyone takes up running.

Wednesday brought forth the real test of my injured left foot, the monthly noontime Tidal Basin 3K race my club puts on. This was the 403rd consecutive running. It's not older than me but it's a venerable running for sure. My foot held up to the fast pounding.

I improved by 26 seconds over the July race when I was bothered by my hip (it's always something, eh?). 13:10 (7:04), 36th male out of 52. Two women passed me in the last half mile and I had no answer to either of them. I was too busy keeping ahead of the 58 year-old man chasing me and trying unsuccessfully to catch the 70 year-old man I was chasing. Shoot, I swear that when that guy beat me last month, he was only 69.

But I like to break 13 minutes for a 3K so I felt alright about the race. I'm getting close again. Did I feel good enough to call it a day? Uh, no, Wednesday night was track night.

So at 7 pm I was lining up on the track to start four 1000 meter runs at "cruise or tempo pace." That is, according to the track workout director, your 10K race pace. I figured lately that was 7:37s so I wanted to do 4:44s for each thousand meters.

Results: 4:27, 4:26, 4:38, 4:30, and my, ahem, cooldown thousand meters, 4:24. That would be a 22:25 5K if you could claim them in a race and forget about the recovery jogging (and walking) between the sets. I have done four 5Ks as fast or faster than this, twice in 2001 (when I PRed at the Spirit of Gettysburg in 21:58) and twice last year. Either I was then in unconscious shape during those two periods or else I was dogging it a few days ago. But at least I'm back to the track again. That's truly how you get faster.

Odds & Sods: Today I fielded a call at my home number from someone asking for Dr. Edmund Lang. When I first acquired my landline number in 2001 shortly after being served with divorce papers, I used to get a lot of calls from persons seeking a doctor's office here in Virginia. I still get automatic fax blasts every single weekday at 8:45 am. Anyway, this was the first one this year. I chatted briefly with the woman from Columbia, SC, who had undergone surgery on her back in 1986 after a car accident, performed by Dr. Lang out of his Seven-Corners Medical Office. It changed her life by enabling her to walk again. She was sorting and came across his number. If I'd'a been him, she woulda put me on her Christmas card list. He was a sought-after physician then. He was old back then, she confided to me. Being 55 myself, I take statements like this with a grain of salt, but I did wish him good health, or good spirit, whatever the case may be, to her upon hearing her tale. So here's to Dr. Lang, wherever he may be, for making a difference in this life.

I want to thank Bex for her generous support of my determination to run Chicago in two months for a charity, A Running Start. Bex just won a 5K race in Las Vegas. She also just purchased a house in Lake Tahoe. All in a week's work for my friend Bex, apparently. Thanks Bex. (Bex on a run in Lake Tahoe. Look at that Cheshire Cat grin. Do you suppose the East Coast phase of her life is ovah!?)

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