I saw Maggie at the GP banquet the other night. She inspired me to go back and blog the Thanksgiving day race. So here it is:
Late September 2008 After a minor jaw related surgery I had to take 6 weeks off from running or other heavy (make that satisfying) exertive efforts. (Doctor’s orders – with explicit instructions to keep my heart rate under 100 BPM.) Six weeks! Through to early November! I had to somehow manage to behave myself*. I decided to focus on the Thanksgiving day race.
*Behaving is all relative, isn’t it?
Weeks 1 and 2 Didn’t feel very good. Couldn’t eat anything that wasn’t essentially liquid. Sleeping was difficult. Couldn’t talk clearly. And talking hurt! Believe it or not, not being able to run wasn’t one of my biggest issues! Started walking during week 2.
Week 3 I was walking 4-6 miles per day, usually with a heart rate monitor that I glanced at occasionally. The kicker was – turns out couldn’t get my heart rate over 100 anyway, on a flat – had to do steep hills. Too bad I live near Hope Ranch – within easy walking distance of so may unavoidable (heh) hills.
Week 4 Walking distance up to 6-9 miles per day. I ventured out to More Mesa. Forgot my heart rate monitor. Oh, well. Did the stairs. Now that was fun! Next day, did More Mesa stairs again with heart rate monitor. Ooops! Heart rate up to 140.
Week 5 I really wanted to run! Tried to sneak in a little shuffle-jogging – at a 14 minute mile pace. My heart rate stayed below 110. Cool! But still slightly boring.
Week 6, day 1 I decided I had had enough of this behaving stuff. Tried a short 3-mile run. Felt my heart pound, my incisions pulse. Ooops again!
Week 6, day 2 – did a long shuffle-jog at 14 minute pace instead of having another go at a real run. 6.8 miles! A personal distance record for the past 20 years – if you count it as running..at a 13-14 minute mile pace, it took forever. But still cool.
I managed to keep myself somewhat in check, and November 8th, after the 6 weeks was over, and with the official doctors okay, attempted to get back to real running. It was discouraging at first – although I had covered distance those past few weeks, I had not done any intensity, and my body intensity meter was all screwed up! My first time out, I tried a short run at what felt like a very fast pace – and was mortified to see I was running 10 minute miles! Ouch! I resolved to make myself compete in the Thanksgiving race, even if my performance still sucked!
One good thing – my distance shuffle-jog seemed to have carried over. I was able to do two runs a week, one of them being record “long” (for me ) 5 to 6.5 miles! – and the other “short” (2 to 4 miles) – and my speed gradually picked back up – soon a 9 minute pace felt fast, then an 8 minute pace. . .I wanted ot get down to 7 minute miles – my 5K race times are generally a little under that. Pipe dream? maybe. . .
Thanksgiving Day, I waited nervously for the start of the race. Only three weeks of running to prepare – and totally unsure of what to expect. This would be the “longest distance” real race I’d entered since the 1980s (not counting Chuck’s). Plus, my body was still relatively untested since my layoff. . .I spotted Maggie – who unbeknownst to me, was coming down with a respiratory infection. She asked how I was doing. I said “I don’t know.”
The race started. I looked for Maggie – my sure and steady pacer – someone whose performance I can’t match, but I can strive to match. She was nowhere in sight. So I winged it. Gaaah!
Somehow, I managed to find a good pace. Maggie’s advice during our last race together (McConnells) kept running through my head like a mantra (“Relax your arms. Don’t go out too fast. Relax your arms”)
I did it. And I felt really good! The 4 miles wasn’t that long, after all! And I finished in 27:52 – just under a 7 minute pace!
It turned out that Maggie was actually about 10 seconds behind me. She was having a bad day, in the process of getting sick. . and all the while, I kept thinking she was off in the distance ahead, out of sight. .
So now – the next question – what happens in 2009? Can I run a little more frequently? Dare I venture a little farther, distance wise? Am I brave enough and also smart enough to test my “limits” – and stretch that envelope?