The closest I came to training in grad school was tacking a training schedule up to my cubicle wall and checking off the days as they came. I followed that plan as a minimum - in order to finish a half ironman, I would need to do at least that, but obviously I could turn a 50k ride into a 70k ride, or a 10k run into a 10-mile run.
Training to me was not rocket science. It was really just an exercise in linear progression, as far as I was concerned, and I certainly didn't mind running daily. That first plan was actually the first time I enacted a "rest day", which I only sometimes took seriously. As I advanced in my pseudo-career, I kept the rest day but really didn't change the basic training idea.
In general, when there was no plan, that included a pre-breakfast run or ride.
Alas, the schedule of the Goddard folks was quite different. They met at Goddard, assembled before lunch, and ran through what was my normal lunchtime. I couldn’t eat prior to these runs, lest they turn into...uh...runs. So I found myself counting down the minutes to the midday meet-up runs. And because I wasn’t on campus, the rest of the group typically came out to meet me closer to my office.
Jake apparently had a plan, as he spent much of his coaching effort sending out detailed schedules that included pace and distance. Workouts were often 10k or longer - not counting warmup and cooldown. My mileage went up, and my speed did as well, at least in some ways. It turned out that, since I wasn’t 25 anymore, my legs didn’t adapt the way they had back in The Day. But I tried my damndest to hold on.
A couple months into this adventure, Jake encouraged me to find a 10-miler to run. I had improved my speed and endurance and picked the Turkey Burnoff in Maryland. A couple of us Goddard peeps signed up for the chilly/not-chilly race, and I expected to bring up the rear. It was a two-lap race. I figured by the second lap I’d be wiped out mentally. But when the gun went off, I went at my pace; around mile 3, I picked up that pace; and by mile 5, I was passing one of the other Goddardites, and thinking ahead to markers where I could make up time.
That run was a real push, and as I dug deep for the final 3 miles, I knew that at the end of this race would be a hot shower and some tasty victuals. The last climb was a killer, but I passed someone near the bottom and never looked back, hacking up the hill to make the final turn and cross the line in 1:05:26. Not bad for a sort of comeback run.
A brand new event experience followed in February: a meet held at a local track. Really. For real, running on a track competitively like some sort of track and field guy.
I showed up and did a brief warmup (and I mean brief -- others were doing a 5k to get warm, stretching like crazy, and really taking it all seriously; I showed up, maybe put in a 500-meter warmup lap around the neighborhood, then stood around chatting up the locals until Jake insisted we do a warmup run as a team). The event was the 1-mile, and I knew I had it in the bag.
So much so that, like every other running event I’ve been involved with, I had no idea what to expect and probably underestimated my abilities. So I stood at the start line where Jake told me to, watched his shoes, and ran like a demon devil. While my final time of 5:21 was certainly solid for a 33.5-year old guy running on a repaired knee, I felt it could have gone better, especially if indoor running didn’t involve breathing dry and slightly musty air.
But Jake wanted us to do another track meet, this time in Maryland. So a few weeks later, I obliged and ran some sort of distance, but it’s not clear what, as no results seem to have been retained. I’m pretty sure it was the mile, and I’m pretty sure I burned the crap out of my legs and pushed for something like a 5:17. There was definitely some sort of timing glitch, as the Goddard runners finished something like 4 of the top 8 and 6 of the top 15 or some such ridiculousness. But since it was all for fun and cost a dollar or two (no really, a dollar or two), I didn’t mind, though the drive back took me through the RFK parking lot for no apparent reason, and I did quite mind that.
I started the summer hot and just got hotter. Every week I could feel more strength infusing in my legs, my power returning after years of neglect. I was free again!
Actually, I started feeling pain in my left achilles and had to back off, stop running, talk with a physical therapist, and fix my gait. I had been running on the repaired knee with a funny hitch that was obvious when filmed, and it took some time to convince myself that biking was acceptable for fitness and running would have to be on hold for a bit. I put the runs on the back burner, where they would simmer and eventually explode to make a big mess in the kitchen that wouldn’t even come out with the good soap and heavy-duty sponge.
The rest of the year was all about rest, recovery, and riding. I abandoned running because it was agonizing. But biking became agonizing too if it lasted longer than a couple hours. I had to build up slowly, do a lot of stretching, and finally -- and most importantly -- change my shoes. There’s a story in that.
Maybe next time, eh?
Next up: Comebackuppance.
Mash out. Spin on.
Some runner person. Also perhaps a cyclist & brewing type. But for your purposes, a runner person.