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

Monday, August 6, 2018

Determined to be dedicated

I have a hard time writing in approving tones of my own running these days; I think this is mainly because my life no longer revolves around episodic but crippling futility and mayhem, so a part of my mind that's all too accustomed to personal cynicism continues to revel in the idea of keeping the dissatisfaction-train chugging along somehow. Since running offers an excellent platform for falling well short of objective goals (fortunately at little true cost, if you're just an aging road hog and in no position to let down an entire high-school or NCAA team), I find myself waxing scornful about the revival of a hobby that, in all honesty, I'm actually enjoying quite a bit. For the first time in many years, running, like a lot of my good habits, isn't something I am prepared to abandon anytime soon, even if my times are still fairly gruesome. So I can at least admit that I had a nice end to the last week: Three "quality" efforts in four days, ending Sunday. And this is despite my back, which I tweaked over a week ago, not yet being 100 percent (while also not seeming to limit my running).

After a disappointing 5K in Fort Collins a week ago Saturday, I came back on Tuesday morning and, despite being banged up, managed to do my assigned Run Boulder AC workout, detailed here.

I got a new GPS device on Wednesday, a Forerunner 35. For most of this year, I have intermittently been using a Strava app on my Android to record some runs, but I was bound to give up on this before long for obvious (to me) reasons: I don't like holding anything in my hand when I am running hard, and I don't like timing myself on easy runs. Therefore, once the novelty of having some runs and commentary on Strava wore off, there was no real point in employing a hand-held surrogate for a GPS watch. (I do like to listen to music during solo easy runs.)

When I got a dog in late June, that sealed the deal. Given a choice between running with a phone in my hand and running with Rosie, the pooch will win out every time, although I obviously can't always bring her, especially in midsummer.

After an easy seven miles on Wednesday, I decided to run the 10K at the Boulder Road Runners meet on Thursday as a moderately hard cut-down. I did this mainly because my friend was slated to run a 4-mile tempo at about 6:20 pace and wanted some company, and we figured it was worth the $7 entry fee to have real timers and a small audience at C.U.'s Potts Field to get it done.

My plan going in was to run 40:00 with splits of 6:40, 6:35, 6:30, 6:25, and 6:20 for the first five 1600s and then run 90-second laps the rest of the way. In the end, it was indeed a cut-down, but we split 6:34, 6:25, 6:23, 6:18, 6:16, 6:16 and 92 for a time of 39:44 (20:10/19:34). It was starting to become work by the end, but it was also in the low 80s even at 8 p.m. (That's worth about 38:30 at sea level, for what little it matters.)

My buddy and I may not have been completely honest about our names, which is sort of a tradition at the BRR summer series.

Friday morning -- about 12 hours after the end of the 10K, in fact -- I had repeat miles with 2:00 rest on Marshall Road in South Boulder with the team. I had in theory taken it easy enough in the 10,000m to leave something in my legs for this, but 25 laps on a track at any pace faster than a jog takes a toll, especially on old, beat-up legs like mine. I was still able to hang with my group for three of these (5:53, 5:33, 5:58 going up-down-up), although they did two more than I did.

On Saturday I did a good-off run for about 45 minutes and then on Sunday I went to the track by myself at around 9:30 and hit 3 x 400m and 6 x 200m with 90-second 200m jogs and a 5:00 jog between the 400s and 200. I did these, as assigned, at mile race pace. The only problem was that it almost surely wasn't my mile race pace: 74, 74, 72 and 35/36. On the other hand, I can't be too far off 5:00 mile shape. Maybe I'll find a way to find out soon.

All told I felt good during all of these workouts (well Friday sucked a little), but I'm actually more impressed with the fact that I keep striving to get fitter and immersing myself in group sessions spite of the continual sewage stream of negativity that I shart on to this blog at erratic but closely spaced intervals. Having a nice crew of people around me (and a superb coach), all of them considerably younger and some of them alarmingly so, helps keep my calamitous attitude below the red zone. (The way I "sound" here is probably misleading. In person, whether it's with runners or others, I'm  actually really affable. In fact, I get affed multiple times a day.)

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