Road Race Training: Final Week


HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM. The official motto of  my  whole attempt to run the Litchfield Hills Road Race, with no prior running experience, has been "it is not that the bear dances so well, it is that he dances at all." I've had simple, twin goals from the outset: 1. Run the race. 2. Finish the race. I'm a man who likes his numbers, particularly when training. How much did I lift, how many times, how far, how fast, what was my heart rate? However, in the preceding two weeks, I specifically avoided any measurements aside from distance. My only question was: Could I run the entire distance?"

Since I'm now running 5 miles without undue difficulty, I'm pretty sure I can handle an extra two without collapsing.

And then I made the big mistake. "Gee," I thought to myself, "Running 7 miles at age 57 is pretty cool, but I wonder what the average speed for geezers like me is?"

It was like an alcoholic reaching for that glass. Before I could stop myself, I had my answer. The average pace for a 57-year-old male running a 10k is 9.8 minutes per mile.

Now, I'm nowhere near that. Hell, I couldn't catch up to that speed with a Vincent Black Shadow. "But, that's ok," I told myself. "Most of the old guys running that distance have probably been running for years, not two weeks. I'll do just fine."

Still, the question remained. Just how fast (slow) am I? So this morning, I strapped on the smartphone with the Endomondo fitness app, and went out for 5 miles. At the end, I looked at the numbers.

Oh. My. God. My dead grandmother could move faster than this. Holy hell, I should just tell my wife to drop me off at the start, go see a movie, shop for shoes, and come pick me up at sunset. I was appalled.

On top of which, I hopped on the scale, and discovered that over the past two weeks of running my wheels off, I've somehow managed to gain 3 pounds. It's not "muscle weight" either, because I'm pretty sure that, since I haven't touched a barbell in weeks, my upper body is leaking muscle mass like oil out of a 1974 Ford Pinto.

After yelling at my egg breakfast, I realized that the problem wasn't my speed or my weight. My problem was mission creep. I had lost sight of my original goals. Run. Finish. Take no prisoners.

So on Thursday, I'm going to run the entire course, just to make sure I can do it. I'm not going to take my fitness app, I'm not going to do anything except put my head down and run. Then I'll know I'm ready for race day.

By the way, here's some nice playlist music: