I have reconciled myself to the process of getting better without worrying about others and how fast they are, but I have to admit there are times where the frustration over my own slow progress compared to others that appear to progress without (it seems to me) as much as I put into it gets over whelming at times … to the point of distraction.
Let me be clear here … I am not comparing myself to those who have been running their whole lives. I know they enter with a much larger base than I have or ever will have at this point, so comparing myself to little rubber people is an exercise in futility. No, I am speaking of those men, and women, built much like I am, and in some cases bigger than I am, that run faster, and farther with seemingly little effort or much training.
Case in point, there were two races in my area over the Thanksgiving weekend that I knew people from work who were running; a 10k on Thanksgiving morning in Clearwater and a Half Marathon Sunday morning in Brandon. A co-worker, lets call him Angel (because that’s his name), came to my desk on Tuesday and was talking to me about the races and some issue he was having (along with another co-worker, Angela, who had been talking to me about some knee pain she had been having while training for the upcoming Disney Marathon in January). This is a two pronged issue. In the first case I think it is great that on a floor containing over 100 staff the word has gotten out about my training and efforts to the point that some are seeking out my opinions. A bit surreal. On the other hand I cannot help myself in comparing what I do to others that are asking my input. I wish I could say that I was above that and only worry about myself, but I am human.
Now, Angela is a good runner, so there was no illusion that I could out run her. Add to that the fact that she trains a lot and is in pretty good shape and it would just be an effort in futility to even try to match her at this point. As a side note I am trying hard to get her into Triathlons, because I firmly believe in this sport and it’s ability to turn good runners into great triathletes. Angel, on the other hand, is someone I should be able to match, if not beat, consitantly. He has lost a tremendous amount of weight and is one of the truly nice people in county government, so he deserves kudo’s on all his efforts. When he asked me about running and told me about the races I asked if he had done a half marathon before. He had not, the most distance in training being a 6 mile run, and now he was going to do that on Thursday then attempt a half mary three days afterwards.
I did not discourage that, even though I thought he might be pushing it a bit. I gave him the sage advice always given me; go out slow, get your heart rate up, stay steady, walk if you need to, don’t worry about your speed, etc. He wanted me to do the race with them but I had training scheduled. I did consider it to be honest, and in hindsight I am glad I decided against it because if I was frustrated by just hearing the result I cannot imagine what my mind set would have been if I had been on the course with them.
Anyway, I did not see Angel yesterday to ask him how it went, but Angela came by my desk to let me know about her knee issues (it started hurting her around mile 7, which was probably due to the closeness of the races, as I told her) and I asked how Angel got through it.
He beat her.
Now, to explain, Angela ran the haf in 2:20:00, so a pace of 10:40. So, if Angel beat her he was running in the low 10:00 range. How?
Maybe I can just chalk it up to age? But he is not that much younger than me (I would guess in the 40 age range) … but here’s the thing … I know I train much more than he does, so why am I not seeing the results? How can people (not just him) train sporadically and consistantly out perform me on the course? Is it just something in me that holds me back from truly “hurting” while racing? Is it that lack of killer instinct that I speak about so much that doesn’t allow me to push to the pain breaking point and bust through it?
I had a scheduled 4 mile run last night and decided to push as hard as I could through the run, even if I had to walk some. I decided when I was runnning that I would run as fast as I could for as long as I could and not worry about my heart rate until I walked. It went great for the first mile, with one of my best first mile splits at 11:17. Then of course mile 2 and 3 were back to the old 14:00 range even with pushing as hard as I could. The last mile, as I have noticed lately, I get into a groove and was back in the 12-13 minute range, so the overall pace was 13’01”. One of my best this year, but in comparison is 3:00 slower than my counterpart. Seriously. WTF?
And the aftermath is the hard part for me. I have spoken about the “heavy running” issue before, but when I push like that I have a hard time running the next day. I have a scheduled short brick tonight (1 mile / 60 minutes / 1 mile) and I know by gauging how I feel now that those runs are going to suck. On Wednesday I have a planned 6 mile run. No idea how that will go. My body just doesn’t handle back to back running well. Is this my age? Or is it the knee and joint issues I have had for years? I really don’t know for sure. All I know is as I sit here typing this my legs ache and my knees scream at me when I stand up.
But, I know I will be out there tonight, and tomorrow, and Thursday. I’ll be out there every day, hoping that at some point it all clicks and improvements are seen on a steady basis. I know that I cannot let up and go back to what I was and where I was heading. I have been in a race since April of 1994 when I went into a doctors office in Orlando and was told I had cancer. I run this race every day, trying to extend the inevitable. I have been cancer free for a long time now, but I know from that experience how quickly that turns. I know how my grandfather was diagnosed in April of 1992 and was gone in November of the same year. I know how my step-father was diagnosed in October and was gone in January. It can come out of the blue and take you fast, and some of that is out of your hands, and some isn’t. I just have to take care of what I can control and hope for the best.
All I ask from you, dear readers, and listeners on the IM:Year One podcast, to not let me quit, to remind me that it’s only a competition with myself, and that I will improve if I stick with it, even if it takes longer than I want it to.
It would be appreciated.
Swim Calm … Bike Strong … Run Steady