Former 2:24 marathoner, now in my late 40s and hoping to maximally flatten the curve of my slide into senescence and mediocrity • Magazine writer, book editor and author, and commentator on the sport of distance running since 1999 • Adviser and confidant of other perambulators • Paradoxical hater of exercise fanatics • Chihuahua whisperer Sentence-fragment impresario

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A pair of racy stories

(I was gonna put "racist stories," since I figure people who run races can fairly be termed racists. I mean, look the vernacular treats people who use parachutes and people who play the flute. But that's probably a bad idea. This title's dumber, but less offensive.)

FIRST STORY

I ran a 5K on Saturday morning. Despite getting to very sleep late on Friday might and being purposefully awakened by my newly acquired friend Rosie at 3:30 a.m. -- she never did make it clear what she wanted -- I made the hour-long drive to Fort Collins, with Lize joining the two of us. There, I recorded my second "real" race finish of the year and, by extension, my third since the latter part of the George W. Bush presidency. (Those quote marks leave me all the wiggle room I like to decide what counts and what doesn't.)  I also met someone with whom I've been exchanging information online, a man who was born in the former Soviet Union but has been in the U.S. for almost 30 years; I would call this meeting very fruitful, and our plans are clearly working.

This race was probably better than the most recent one, the Bolder Boulder on Memorial Day (39:14). I ran my last mile something like 20 seconds faster than my second mile, and I won my division by a lot. In fact, I'm 48, and no one over 34 beat me. I was 11th of 544 finishers overall. I got off the line hoping only to run about 6:00 pace after feeling ragged both during the warm-up and in recent days, and despite the steady 65' climb in the first half of the out-and-back course, I exceeded that with a net time of 18:25. That's worth about 17:55 at sea level and age-converts to around 16 minutes flat.

Therefore, all is well. I'm pleased as can be given that running is mostly a social and therapeutic undertaking now. I undeniably have lots of room to improve; as I told my coach, I think I have a good year or more of substantial improvement in me before the ravages of Father Time start to prevail for good. Onward to the next one!


SECOND STORY

Recently, I wasted forty bucks and a whole morning on a road race. I ran a time that absolutely bellows "You need to quit immediately" through twin megaphones located about three inches from each ear; I displayed a level of effort that dishonors the sport and its essence to a greater extent than even doping does, since dopers at least try hard and record noteworthy feats. I was with people at 2K who went on to run 60, 47 and 20 seconds faster. I was, as I always am, perilously close to dropping out just so I can have more fuel for the fire of "Throw all of your running shoes away, or at least quit going to workouts intended for people who actually have some drive, ability and dedication.

Continuing to show up at races only to run them with less fire than I usually run in my hardest two weekly workouts -- not that these are anything to boast about, either -- is counterproductive to my entire persona. I have to decide whether to commit to my fall racing-and-travel plans now or just admit I'm someone who now has an energetic and affable dog as a running partner and would be content to just bail on racing for good.

I'm pretty sure I don't need to explain the relationship between this story and the first one.



I have an Outside Online article going live soon, most likely this week. I'm happy with it because it's different from most of the running-related things I've turned out over the years. I'm hoping to reach a point where the running-related articles I've had published that aren't really running-related outnumber the ones that are.

I also have a canine companion. After months of deliberation and scheming, I adopted a 4-year-old Doberman mix named Rosie from the Humane Society of Boulder Valley on June 30. I may detail some of our adventures in future posts, but in lieu of posting a glut of photos here, I invite you to check out my Instagram account, as it's almost entirely about Rosie now.





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