Yeah, that’s me in the white hat, gray shirt and shorts and black shoes finishing the 39th annual Get In Gear 10K run last weekend. Check here for my official times and finish line video. I “grabbed” that pic from the video, so you know what to look for if you bother to check it out. You should check it out because it will make more sense if you do.
As those of you who read my last post on running know, my running this year didn’t start as well as I’d expected. Got over the terrible hip pain only to have it return a couple of weeks later. Found that adding lunges to my exercise routine seems to make that pain a thing of the past and get started on prepping for the next 1/2 marathon (Red, White and Boom on July 4). Then patellar tendinitis set in (right knee). For those that have not experienced this wonderful condition, my symptoms were an occasional (and unpredictable) sharp shooting pain around the lower knee cap and a general feeling of knee instability. Fortunately, I caught it pretty early and stopped running and it cleared up in about a week.
In early April I decided that the Get In Gear 10K race fit in nicely with my 1/2 marathon plan, so I signed up. Last year’s race was a disaster and one I’d rather forget, but for those that missed it, I biffed it at home about 10 days before the race and had the spectacular purple forehead and gash to prove it and keep me from running.
Living in Saint Paul proper now, we decided to head over to the race on the MTC 84 bus route. A plan that proved that mass transit really can be a pretty good thing. Only about 15 minutes on the bus and we got dropped off more or less at the park. Certainly more convenient than the park at the VAMC and take the shuttle bus over to the park routine and we timed it to arrive just 15 minutes prior to the start. Dropped the sweats (chilly morning!) off at the bag drop, get over to the start, fire up the Garmin and the iPod and we’re off.
It’s the Get In Gear, so my chip start time was just 2:42 after the gun start and I was near the back of the pack. I hate that first mile. So much jostling and jockeying for an opening and you’re just trying to find your pace. It’s super awkward, but I denied my inner Johnson, determined not to want to punch anyone in the face. The result: 9:31 for mile 1. Pick up the pace! I almost negative split each mile after, but the hill by St. Thomas took it’s toll. I’ve never run a road race with my Garmin and it was kind of cool (in a nerdy, data oriented way) to keep track of my cadence and heart rate. Going up the hill I found that both got too fast. Just at my threshold for having to walk I was able to slow my cadence and then let the heart rate come down, then back to pushing. I missed the mile 3 time by 1 second. Then turned in better times for mile 5 and 6 with what felt like a near sprint to the finish line, Garmin telling me I was doing a 7:20 pace for the last bit!
OK, did you watch the video? If not, go do it now. I’ll wait, it doesn’t take long.
Seriously, is that embarrassing or what? I look like I should have crutches or at least a walker to move at that speed and still be safe. And damn, after all the time I’ve spent trying to be a mid-foot striker there I am with my foot out in front and leading with my heel. But, there it is. And it’s all about perception. You may feel, in the moment, that you’re moving at top speed, but later you might realize you really weren’t. You might feel like your form is spot on, but when you have some time and perhaps some data, you find that there are improvements to be made. You just have to be open to the fact that what you think at any one time isn’t reality, just your perception of reality.