Saturday, September 29, 2007

Racing Short for Fun and Profit

Today my procrastination in finding a gym/pool thing to join paid off big-time. But first, some workout stories. I don't run many races, but I frequently have fun and eventful workouts. First, on Thursday I took a quick tempo run along the lake between getting home from work and going to a concert. And as I ran by a couple of twentysomething women, one of them took out a camera and followed me by with it. And probably took an unauthorized photograph of me! She'll be hearing from my agent! So if you see a picture of me running in a RAGBRAI bike jersey and magenta Big Sur Half Marathon cap, know that it was not taken by an Al Dimond (tm) Authorized Photographer.

Then yesterday, because of the race today, I ran one of my favorite pre-race workouts from high school: 3x400 with 3-minute interval. The idea is to start fast and get faster; in high school my goal was always 66-64-62, but I never made it. Yesterday I thought I might be able to run 68-66-64. So I jogged over to the track, did some strides, got loose, stood at the line, took off, finished: 68.9. Acceptable. Just have to get a little faster on the next one. Rested, got loose, toed the line, took off. Tried to run the same first half as the last one but kick it in to the finish. Obviously failed in one of those: 68.9. Gah. Rested, got loose again. Toed the line. Then it came to me: the advice my high school's sprint coach always gave on how to run fast. "Lead with your arms," he said, "If you run at any speed and accelerate with your arms, your legs have to follow, no matter how tired they are." Like magnetic and electric fields inducing eachother to make light. I had forgotten this for four and a half years and it came back to me just before starting this last quarter. So I resolved to go out hard with my arms leading. And I felt it. I felt it along the backstretch as I really accelerated and picked up my turnover. On the second curve I held it together better than usual. And the final straight, well, it wasn't exactly glorious but I didn't fall apart too badly, just pumping those arms. I thought, "Surely, this must have been faster. I felt so fast! Just like when I ran 55.7 on that relay split in high school!" Looked down at the watch, and it was indeed faster. THREE WHOLE #@*(-ING TENTHS OF A SECOND FASTER. 68.6! AAAAAAAARGH! "Screw the 5k, and all this speedwork," I thought, "I want to run marathons."

So today my race was only a 2-miler: the North Park River Run, put on by North Park University. My roommate had sent me a link to it while trying to send me a link to the race he was running, and I thought at the time that 2 miles would be a good distance. I was a bit sick, and didn't know what the competition was going to be like; I figured that with competition I could run 10:30. I also figured that lots of good 5k runners might appreciate an opportunity to race at a shorter distance, just like me. Some of the guys running warmups looked good. But when we stepped up to the line my hopes dropped: I was the only person that stepped all the way up to the line, while everyone else held back, as if to let the real runners through. I knew then I was going to have to lead wire-to-wire. So the race was totally uneventful; the pace cyclist led me through the course and I finished in 9:56. Which means the course was short. Because there's no way I ran just 4 seconds off of the best race of my life (senior year of high school, on a track, in spikes, with good competition, after a whole season of intense training focused for the 2-mile) today (mixed-surface race, in trainers, nobody within a minute of me, two weeks into the interval-work phase of 5k training). I probably would have run closer to 10:40 on a real 2-mile course, but that's a total guess, because I didn't see the 1-mile mark and didn't really trust the 1.5-mile mark, which had me at 7:50.

Oh, well. I guess I'll just have to give in and run big races if I actually want to have times. So anyway, they were giving out awards at this block party over by the university after the race, so I went over there, grabbed some lunch and waited for them. Then my nose started bleeding. Fortunately I had pocket-packs of Kleenex because I was sick... I went through 5 tissues and got blood all over my face, hands, clothes, backpack, and the sidewalk. Boo. So of course they wanted a picture of the winners after the awards, and I looked like I'd just come from a war zone. But the procrastination-paying-off thing: the prize for winning the race was a year membership at a health club! So by not going out and finding one, I now avoid duplication. It's about four miles west of me, which means biking over could be a nice warm-up. If they have a pool I can learn to swim now! Plus I won a Fleet Feet gift certificate so I can get one running shoe for free. And another running duffel bag. Woo.


Kori said...

Al - will you be my idol?

I want to be fast! I feel fast in my heart! Alas - not nearly as fast as you. Not even close.

Audrey said...

dude, that is one of the best prizes i've heard of. excellent...