Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Who's Racing Whom?

I took my planned 7-mile run yesterday (Tuesday) at lunchtime. I ran the almost 2 miles to a local park which has a convenient lake with a 1.02-mile shoreline (see below right). It's easy enough to get there, and running laps along the wooded path around the lake beats running in traffic any time.

I got to the lake (see photo, courtesy of and started out with an easy lap, thinking I'd run the next 2 miles at goal marathon pace (still hoping that's 8 minutes, but tough to say with the way my hips still feel). Anyway, I got about a third of the way around the lake and I sensed someone coming up behind me. I saw a short, stocky guy, wearing basketball shorts and beanie (it was about 70 degrees out) chugging along listening to music. He passed me, and I just tried to maintain a good running rhythm, keeping him in my sights the entire time.

After that first loop around the lake, I stopped to stretch and the guy went on ahead. I started the first of my two MP miles, and I caught up to him pretty quickly, which I found odd in light of my 30-second+ stop. As soon as I passed him, he surged. I stayed steady, and with the natural elevation changes and the wind, my pace fluctuated between 7:45 and 8:15 per mile. We finished my second lap running together, and I kept the pace at around 8:00/mile as I entered the third (mile 5 of my run). He kept himself ahead, and then, a little before the spot where he'd first passed me, he peeled off and bent over facing the water, seeming casual about the fact that he looked like he might be sick. I patted him on the shoulder and gave him a thumbs up, then finished my last loop. When I got back to the parking area near the lake, he was there, and I greeted him in Spanish (he seemed to Hispanic, and turned out to be Mexican). He asked me how many laps I was doing today, and I told him 3 at the lake and 7 miles total. His face was incredulous, as it's clear he's a guy who runs, and not exactly a "runner".

When I was a soccer player, I ran almost exactly like that. Three or four times a week, 3-5 miles, usually 8-minute miles, but always feeling like I was pushing the pace, and with little real endurance to show for that modest mileage.

Given the state of my hips right now, I don't know if I could have outrun him in a short race, but it was encouraging to see that I had the endurance to keep going around that lake as many times as I wanted/needed to. It was also a good lesson in advance of Sunday's marathon, realizing that I need to just keep to my pace and forget about what's going on around me. Let people pass, don't worry about placing (was never going to win or place in my age group, so who cares about the actual place). Focus only on staying steady and running "within myself", as they say. Whatever limitations my hips may place on me, it won't matter if I can get through the distance and finish feeling relatively good.


1 comment:

Billy said...

Ah, that sucks about the hip. Best of luck to you this Sunday (I've got a marathon the following week myself!) - hope it holds up well