Monday, May 31, 2010

A day at the brewery

I spent a lovely morning and early afternoon at the Redhook brewery in Portsmouth on Sunday. The Runners Alley Redhook 5k is always one of my favorites--what's not to like about a fast-ish 5k that finishes at a brewery?--and I was just pleased to be recovered enough from my bronchial and sinus issues of earlier in May to even be able to compete.

My oldest daughter, Allie, and I arrived early so that she could babysit my niece while my sister worked registration, giving me lots of time to rest in the shade and soak in the pre-race hoopla. At about 10am, I met up with Mark Hudson and we jogged the course for a warm-up. After changing shoes and shirt and heading over toward the start for some strides, I bumped into Jim Johnson who mentioned that Bob Wiles and John Mentzer were there. I knew, then, the race would go out fast--as if the downhill start and strong tailwind wouldn't be enough.

I wound up going through that first downhill and tailwind mile in 5:26, probably the fastest mile I've run in a year and it felt pretty good. From there, though, it was a tough fade. I never really blew up, just gradually faded the rest of the way and every little rise felt like a mountain. I guess it's what I should have expected given my training or lack thereof lately, but it was still frustrating and a tough bit of medicine to swallow. Having that tailwind from the first mile turn into a headwind for the last mile and then having to go up the slight incline that we had come down at the start just added to the misery. The result (18:07 for 18th overall) was totally unacceptable to me, but in hindsight that's about as good as I had a right to expect. I was really sick a few weeks ago and really haven't very done much above a jogging pace since. As disappointing as it is, the truth is it was probably just the kick in the ass that I needed. I now start my 40's racing career the same way I started my 30's--trying to get back under 18 minutes for a 5k. This sport is beyond humbling at times.

After the race, Hudson and I jogged the course again before I went off to enjoy some free beverages and food and he and his wife set off for a day on the seacoast. My wife took Allie and the rest of the kids home by way of Kittery and my brother-in-law, Brian, and I sat on the patio taking in the sights and sounds, enjoying the warm day and planning out our summer of training that will lead to big things in the fall. The next big red letter day for both of us is the Baystate Marathon on October 17th, but there will be lots of races between now and then.

I won a $25 gift certificate to Runners Alley for being 3rd in my age group (hurray for being old!) so my entry was free. And I left Portsmouth more hungry to get back into some hard training than I've been in quite some time. As hard as it is to accept any number that starts with 18 when I so recently held out sub-17 as my primary goal for this Spring, there is a kind of freedom in knowing. When it's all said and done, this may very well turn out to be my most productive race in years.


Monday, May 24, 2010

No reason necessary

Talking about the weather is about as lame as it gets, right? And even if it wasn't, as runners we are conditioned to simultaneously obsess over and ignore the weather. Snowing? Doesn't matter, we run. Hot as balls? Doesn't matter, we run. Tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, locusts? Runners run. But while we're ignoring it, we're also constantly preparing for it. We're making sure the right clothes are clean, whenever possible we're timing our workouts and long runs to take advantage of the warmest or coolest or driest or wettest or breeziest or least windy part of the day. We're getting mentally psyched up for what it will take to git r done no matter what.

But not right now. Not this time of year, at least not in New England. Right now, and for a few more weeks, it really is irrelevant. We don't even need to look at the forecast.

Right now is when no willpower is needed. There is no need to ponder the question of why. Right now we are putting positive memories in the bank to be withdrawn on a hot, humid day in August or a freezing, icy day in January. Right now we're raking.

Now is when fifteen miles rolls off our legs like our phone number off our tongue. We don't even have to think about it. Right now we feed off the energy of the other runners, walkers and bikers we see out on the roads and we don't even wonder where they've been all winter. We're all smiles, all hello and what's up, and we're all on the same team. Right now our challenge is not getting out the door, it's getting back to our real lives and responsibilities. Right now anything is possible and the only thing we have to remind ourselves is that we can't do it all right this very minute.

Our racing goals seem eminently doable, and they are. We have time--we can't be stopped. Right now it's light out when we leave for a morning run and it's still light out when we get home from an evening run. We're not really sure how we've done it all year, but we're sure glad we did because right now there's nothing better than being a runner.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

It's true. I am an idiot.

Several people have commented via email and other means on my training log entry for Saturday, May 1st when I recorded my participation in the Footbridge 5k in Dover, to Benefit the Children's Museum of New Hampshire. While the journal entry itself is not fit for reprinting on this here family-oriented running blog, the industrious follower of these chronicles will be able to find it without much trouble. (Hint: it's on the INTERNETS.)

In my defense, I have since been diagnosed with a sinus infection and bronchitis, complicated by allergies and asthma. The headache that woke me at 1:30am on Saturday morning is easily one of the 3 or 4 worst I've ever had and is only slightly less intense now, three days later and after maybe 15 hours on antibiotics.

Apparently my trusty old method of dealing with all manner of illness and injury--ignore it and it will go away--didn't really pan out this time. What can ya do, right? When I told the PA at my doctor's office that I had attempted a 5k race on Saturday morning she just looked at me with raised eyebrows and said, "Really? And how did that work out?" But she should know as well as anyone that adequate oxygen to the brain is critical to good decision making.

It should go without saying but my disparaging comments in said training log entry were directed at myself alone and were in no way meant to show disrespect toward the Children's Museum of New Hampshire, Granite State Race Services, The Seacoast Race Series, The Town of Dover, Andy Schachat, Bob Wiles, John Mentzer, Jim Johnson or any of the other competitors, race officials, volunteers or spectators at Saturday's event.

I take solace in the fact that despite setting a new PW for 5k by a huge margin, my entry fees will allow one or more underprivileged children to experience the museum for free. (The same would be true even if I had wisely eaten my $22.50 entry fee and just not shown up for the race, but that's beside the point.)