Yesterday I was catching up on some reading and paged through a recent Runner's World. There was a great article about the Steve Prefontaine Memorial Race. One quote from Prefontaine (a US distance runner in the early 1970's who died an early death in a car accident) in the article was the following:
The best pace is a suicide pace, and today looks like a good day to die.
This quote fascinates me after two recent runs for the following reason. First, when I ran the 1:30:39 recently and had negative splits, I commented to my running partner that I felt completely in control and how different that felt from when I ran a half-marathon race the last time in November when particularly my first five miles felt like I was pushing too much. Today, in our 5x1600m workout, the first 1600 was at an easy 6:20something pace. Then the other four were all sub 6:05. All, except for the last one felt completely under control. Even the last one felt mostly under control. It helped to have a buddy who is faster than me pacing it out. I just followed along and for a couple ran along side him for the last lap. Our very last lap of the morning resulted in my buddy and I running a 5:53 total with the last lap being at about 85 seconds was just on the border of control. But it was still under control. It was just fast enough to make a difference and bring us home with our fastest mile of the day being our last.
The choice to go out a little slow and come back is a strategic choice. It is a matter of free will. It is a choice I make about how to run.
I like to feel under control when I run. When I don't, it worries me. It worries me that I might injure myself. It worries me that I might not last.
Obviously Prefontaine was different. If he took his own statement seriously, he would have just gone with "the sky's the limit" attitude for every race and pushed as hard as he could. That is also part of free will. Just how much effort to exert every single time.
Maybe his attitude and an amazing endurance was why he was a great runner and I am just a good amateur.
What I like to ponder is how a quote like his could apply not only to my running (especially with Boston coming up) with to the rest of my life and what is the difference between going out with a lot of effort but still feeling like I am in control and just turning over my fate to my faith and pushing with every last ounce of energy that God has bestowed upon me.
Perhaps I will find out in Boston.
Then, I can carry that forward in my life.