Thursday, June 26, 2008

I only run once a year - Super Run 5K

I tried out cycle cross, but I hated it, and I gave up triathlons for cycling so now I only run once a year - the SuperRun 5k.

This year the race was in honor of Jenny Crain, a local runner who was catastrophically hit by a car a few weeks before her Olympic trials. This race was, as always, put on by the excellent Mr. and Mrs. White. This particular race is my standard 5K. I do it every year and for the couple of years I have been watching my times improve.

I wondered, however, what completely knocking out the running part and adding 20 to 24 hours of cycling a week would do to my run times. I was convinced that I would be a slower runner - my legs are all muscle and spin and no quick springy twitch that you need for running.

I started in the front this time, about five or six disorganized "rows" back, since last year I started 2/3rds of the way back and ended up feeling annoyed about passing so many people. It was less frustrating to be passed by 150 runners than to have to pass 150 runners. Just like in cycling, you can get boxed in while running, and it's not just a flick of the break levers - it's your legs stopping you!

Mile one went great - I was working a 7:30 mile time which I knew wouldn't last (it never does) mostly because I could stride down the Lincoln memorial hill, and there was no annoying kid stopping right in front of me at mile one because he had run the whole first mile and now was going to walk the other two.

Mile two started with a long uphill going up ravine road, (Doesn't seem so long on the bike though!) and someone had lovingly plugged in a cd player and was playing hip hop for all the runners to stride up the hill to. I think this is the part where I passed the most people, and very few people passed me on the hill. My lungs, at this point, hadn't even been touched, I was breathing as if I was taking a brisk walk, but my muscles felt heavy and unresponsive. Remembering last year's run, I realized that I had already improved -I was dead in the water by the time I got to this point, and my fingers were shaking and my feet were falling asleep. Granted, I could remember how much lighter my legs felt from last year, my aerobic capacity more than made up for it. I also started, around this time, choking up the thai food I had unwisely eaten for lunch.

I hit mile three with a 16:00 time, and now calculated I had 12 minutes to run a mile to equal or better last years time. Mile three is where I play "tag" with other runners, singling out someone to catch and running to them, and then doing it all over again, until I am carried to the finish by my legs. This strategy allows me to catch a considerable amount of people in a short amount of time and usually find someone. The mantra in my head switches from whatever song was in my head (Yesterday’s hit was “all around the mulberry bush the monkey chased the weasel) to “nothing hurts” when I’m hitting mile 3. I’m not sure if it works but I try to convince myself that nothing hurts.

But it does. I hate running.

I passed twenty or thirty people in the last mile and found myself with three other girls that looked around my age group and a dude I wanted to pass if only because of his body odor. We all hit the quarter mile mark in one clump and the girls started to pick it up. So I started to pick it up, so the dude started to pick it up. I knew I could beat the girls for sure, but the lanky smelly guy was the one I was going to have to race.

We all picked up our kick when we could see the orange tape of the chute and smelly dude and I quickly dropped the two girls. “You’re going to make me work” he grunted out trying to kick it up.

Something clicked in my body and my legs just started turning over and over and over, I didn’t even notice the work, it was just like my whole body was flying to the finish line. I covered the last stretch in a matter of seconds, my boyfriend, looking for me to finish, didn’t even see me fly by. Cycling gives you great turnover with your legs if you can get them to click right, like they did at that moment, but that’s about it for running help. If you want to be a good runner, run.

I entered the chute as the clock said 26:30. That’s not a fast run by any means, but that’s entire minutes off of last year’s time. Smelly guy was bringing it in when I looked back and the three girls were following him. I had won the sprint. I hobbled my way to the Gatorade table, drank a few cups and found my boyfriend still looking for me amongst the finishers.

Last year: 28:08 time, 9:04 mile time, 9th in my age group, 101st female, 323rd overall.
This year: 26:40 time, 8: something mile, 9th in my age group, 71st female, 230th overall.

I’m most impressed with my mile times being under nine minutes – I’ve struggled with that since high school. Also, finishing in front of a hundred more people this year.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:32 PM

    Very, very impressive. I admire your dedication.
    Love, Mom