Sunday, November 1, 2015

24 Years Later

   Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.3
Haruki Murakami

   I was once a decent runner - I have already covered that in a different blog post. I traded my natural given talent to chase unfulfilling dreams which, in turn, soiled my talent. When I began to regain my sanity and started to run again, I did it for the wrong reasons. I set unrealistic goals, trained haphazardly and acted like a jerk. It took injuries, patient friends and what seemed like years to begin to run with purpose again.
   As I began to race I crushed most of my running goals with ease, very few of my goals have eluded me. The first, to run a sub 20 minute 5k, I ran a 18:50 in high school and would love to run that pace again. Second, to run a sub 1:30:00 half marathon. Third, to run a sub 3:30:00 marathon. And finally, is the major goal of most runners, a Boston Qualifier.

   Those goals require hard work and a solid training plan. They require grit and determination, they will require pain to achieve. So, I have been working on changing my training program and my diet. I have been losing weight and building strength. Slowly I have begun to ramp up my mileage while running consistently. All this with the hopes and dreams of regaining what I lost 24 years ago. To fulfill my goals and become the runner I believe I was destined to be.

   Yesterday, I took my first major step towards those goals. I had gone out that morning and ran an easy 10 mile progressive pace run. I came home and noticed I was one mile away from a 135 monthly total. I also noticed I had crossed a segment on Strava that I believed I could take. So I asked my wife if she would drop me off so I could run the segment and I would meet the family at the park.

   I had wanted to see how fast I could run a mile if I dedicated myself to just run 1 mile all out. Now was the chance to see exactly how fast I could go. Having done some speed work in my training block I knew I could run in the 6's. My fastest recorded mile to this point was a 6:18 but I also knew that was assisted with a downhill course I was on. This attempt would be on a mostly flat stretch with a slight bit of elevation and a downhill finish under Rt 51.

   I believe I started out a bit too fast and as I hit the ¼ mile mark my lungs began to burn. I tried to get control of my breathing and adjusted my form and pace. I looked down and noticed I was running a 5:15 pace. I was at a half mile now, I was half way there I couldn't let up now. My mind began to tell me, its too late, you've blown up, you idiot you went out to fast, maybe you can at least not embarrass yourself. I shouted defiantly, ITS MINE, and my body responded with a surge. As I passed the ¾ mark and I began to feel myself redline, its possible this is where I fail. I entered the finishing tunnel and I begin to have trouble seeing. I close my eyes for a second and will myself forward, I give a final push across the line. Not knowing where the exact finish is I had to go an extra 10th and stopped my watch and breathed.

   I checked my watch, I needed to go under 6:30 to get the segment. My watch showed 6:16 average pace for 1.16 miles. I quickly saved the run and as soon as the watch finished, I connected to Garmin and check my stats.  The stats don't lie, I ran the segment in 5:38. Not only taking the segment, but taking a giant leap towards my major goals. I had done something I hadn't done in 24 years, I ran a sub 6 minute mile.