A local running store, Pacers, puts on a series of road races throughout the DC region, and they were sponsoring a 4-mile Dad's Day race in South Arlington this morning. It started and ended at the old Gotta Run store I used to use as the home base for the training programs I formerly conducted for my former running club. I love running down there, by the Pentagon.
I wanted to run the race, although I knew I wouldn't have a good time given my overweight condition and lack of a base. An hour before the start it was threatening to rain and since nobody I knew was going to be there, I decided to run a virtual 4-miler on the W&OD Trail behind my house instead and save the entry fee.
The trail is mostly flat and has half-mile markers, so it's easy to keep track of your time. I walked out my door and within a minute and a half was at mile marker 7.
I punched my Timex Ironman and ran east to mile marker 6 in 9:36. The morning was overcast and deceptively humid. Turning around and running westbound, I was passed by a runner and I passed another runner. Just like a race! my mind enthused to my tiring body.
I passed mile marker 7 at 19:45, halfway through the "race." I seriously considered making this a 2-mile race instead as I looked longingly at the back of my house when I passed it (coffee inside! food! McDonald coupons!)
However I soldiered on, slowing considerably. I arrived at mile marker 8 and turned around at 31:58, an ugly mile but now three quarters done. It had started raining and I was drenched.
As I shuffled my way back eastbound, I mused about my coaching days. Oftentimes when I encountered a runner plodding along in a fatigued rut, I would suggest varying the pace to break the painful mental monotony the runner's tiredness had induced. Speed it up a little, in other words, because it's rejuvenating plus you "get there" sooner.
I picked it up and felt better. The last mile was my best mile except for the first mile.
I diverted from the trail half a mile from mile marker 7, onto residential streets so I could finish the "race" right at my house. My watch showed 38 minutes and change with three blocks to go. I ran faster. Turnover! my mind told my body.
Silly delineations matter to runners. I certainly wanted to break 40 minutes for the "race."
I was closely monitoring my watch as my house came into view. I stepped onto the sidewalk of the block my house is on and punched my Ironman. 39:59:51. Made it!
Who could say that just because I hadn't reached my driveway yet that the 4-mile point wasn't somewhere on that block. I'm putting this sub-40 virtual 4-miler into the books.