Saturday, September 29, 2012

Get By with a Little Help from My Friends

In the past few weeks I have done some tempo runs with friends--tempo runs are sustained high speed.  We have run the streets of East Baltimore and both times two specific runners have been clearly ahead of me starting some time in the third mile or sooner.  The first time, I motivated myself along.  The second time, I had two friends who helped keep me going as strong as I could.  Better run the second time.

In all the 5K's I've run recently, I have never had someone to run with virtually the whole time.  Today, at the starting line, I was with three other gentlemen from Back on My Feet and knew that there would be several others from Back on My Feet out on the course cheering us on.  Two of us had visions of running about the same time.  (We had similar recent personal bests.  I call mine a recent personal best as there was a time when I was 17 that I could run a lot faster but that almost counts as "someone else".   At this point in my life after 6.5 years of being back into fitness, I should just focus on the recen times.)  In any case, we went out.  One gentleman (who admittedly had worked last night and had not kept up with his running so much recently) fell behind early.  One gentleman went out fast (after having already done a distance run this morning) and pulled away in the first mile running a sub-6 but later burned out (his words) so that at about the 1.8 mile point the other two of us passed him.

The remaining gentleman and I ran the first mile just together at 6:15 pace.  Then we hung through the second mile together.  Every once in a while one of us would pull ahead slightly and then we would regroup.  I don't recall the time that was shouted out at exactly the 2 mile marker, but I know that we were running very consistent with our first mile.  It was interesting as my GPS watch and the course matched up exactly for mile 1 and almost exactly for mile 2.  Mile 3 on the course seemed a bit long and I pulled away slightly.  Ended up ahead of the guy I ran the race with by 4 seconds.  I would hardly say I "beat" him as it wasn't about winning or losing at that point.  It was just about pushing myself to my own limits (20:00.2 for the official time but I honestly thought I had broken 20 minutes on my watch) and seeing how well teaming up to run with someone else would help me and help him.  It helped us both amazingly.  Pacing together and not wanting to let the other person get too far away and encouraging each other throughout made a huge difference.

I hope to run with someone who runs my exact pace in a future race.  Two of the other three runners I began with asked if I'd be running either the Baltimore or Philly marathon this year.  Unfortunately, no and no.  As I've discussed before to prioritize in my life, I have chosen to step away from marathon running until Boston next year.  But, next time there is a Back on My Feet 5K or any other even where I see Road Runner, Michael, or Ryan, I'll know who to team up with to try to have more than one of us set a new personal best.  Running with a little help from friends is such a gift.  

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