I’m in a bit of a strange spot with my running. I really want to be running further. I want to get into the 18 mile Saturdays, the 40 mile weeks. I want to be doing three-hour runs every weekend and kicking out 150 mile months. The kind of running I’ll need to peak at for my marathon prep in the fall. I want to be an endurance athlete. I want people to look at me and admire the kind of work I can do. I’m vain. I want people to see what I do and think that I’m exceptional. I want to be exceptional.
The problem, of course, is that I’m not ready right now for that. I can’t go from 22 mile weeks to 40 mile weeks overnight. I can’t just get myself prepped and ready and not expect to burn out or get injured. I need to be circumspect. I need to plan and be careful. And I need to allow myself the right amount of rest.
And I need to train for the things I have coming up. In two and a half weeks, I have the Providence half-marathon. It’ll be a slower race that the last one I ran for two reasons. First, there are more hills in Providence than in Virginia Beach. And second, I’m running it with a friend for whom it will be his first run of that distance. His goal is to finish, not to put up a time. My goal is to run with him and with BB the whole way and enjoy myself. I don’t want to overtrain for this race.
So I’ve been running in a little bit of a new way. One thing I’ve always enjoyed is incremental progress, and so just like last year, when I added gym work, I am now adding hills. In ECC, the path I run on is mainly along a river, but there’s a big hill up to a museum that I used to pass by. Now I run up it, and back down, twice on each run. It’s not a long hill – maybe a tenth of a mile – but it is very steep. It takes my wind out and reminds me that I have a long way to go, fitness-wise.
Yesterday I ran with a friend from work. He’s a younger man, only 26, and pretty fit. He’s training for a 10-mile run in May, and so we went out for a 10K yesterday. For an hour, with hills, we ran and talked. At a 9:32 min/mi pace. Which is right about my personal-best half-marathon pace. It felt good. It especially felt good that this young man wasn’t smoking me. He was sucking wind from time to time, and I could tell that it was a challenging run for both of us.
We talked work and retirement planning and relationships. He clearly wants something of a mentoring relationship, and I’m happy to participate. I enjoy networking with people who are technically behind me on the career ladder, in addition to those supposedly higher. It’s valuable to make connections all over; I never know who’ll be relevant to future career plans.
So I’m running a little harder. Saving my distance training for later in the summer. And beginning to make additional fitness goals for myself. My ability to run hills. Body fat percentage. Strength.
But soon, I’m going to run further. I want to be able to look at myself, the me I see in the looking-glass, and see an endurance athlete. There are many things I never was, and will never be. But this is something I think I can do. I can be. I will never be a champion. But I am a finisher. I can finish things that the me I used to be never even contemplated starting. I can run a long way. And I have a lot further to go.