Last weekend, I ran a 5K, wearing my employer’s logo. I finished in 88th place. In my age group.
I ran hard–hard enough that I thought I might throw up as I approached the finish. And I broke a ten-minute pace for the 3.1 mile course.
Of course, me being me, I was thrilled with the time they texted me–for about ten minutes. It was clear from the almost-throwing-up that I couldn’t have done better during the race.
I’m not talking about the day of the race, or the day before. Or the month before. I’ve run enough in the past month that I’ve had to back off and give my legs a little time to recover.
But there are things I can do to get a better result. The first isn’t directly tied to effort. It’s research. If I’m going to start being serious about things like race times, I need to build some knowledge. I’ve started that process with a couple podcasts–neither of which is right for me. So I need to keep looking.
Then, rather than just running to run, I can run with a purpose. In my case, I aspire to finish a marathon. Given the issues I’ve had completing thirteen miles, that’s a lot of work. Given that summer is coming, it’s going to be miserable work.
But I want to know what it feels like to cross that finish line.
I also need to be more focused on my diet. I don’t eat the way I did when I was 23–but I can do a hell of a lot better. The lack of improvement there is just laziness. Junk food only has the intrinsic power you give it. The M&Ms guys aren’t junk-food sirens luring people to their dietary deaths.
And finally, I need to train smarter. I need to find out how to properly stretch. The days where I could get away with kind of stretching this and that and the other are gone. I can’t run through potential injuries any more.
And I need a specific plan. One that’s manageable for me. A couple of friends have a plan they use–and it might be the right one. But they’re a lot younger than I am, so it might not be.
So I’m pleased with my run time. But I’m not comfortable about it.
I’m not saying I was 87th loser. But I sure would like the break the top forty next year.
And I really do want to know what it’s like to cross a marathon finish line.
Five years ago, I couldn’t run a hundred yards. Today, I can say I’ve run faster than I ever have before. That’s a big accomplishment–and cause for gratitude. But it’s also just a taste of what’s possible.
I want the whole damn buffet.