Thursday, January 2, 2014

A 2000 Mile Quest

This morning I went for a run.  That is nothing unusual.  I went for a run on 260 days in 2013.  So, going for a run on the second day of the yar in 2014 is something that I would expect to do on approximately two out of every three days anyway. 

But I learned something about myself today.  First, I must be building up a reputation for posting pictures of my watch.  A friend wrote a post today with a picture of his Garmin and noted “in true Professor Frick style”.  He had the opportunity to run 16 miles in about two hours.  That was almost twice as long as the time I had available to run—I ran just under 1:04.  And that was twice as far as I ran (I ran exactly 8 miles).  So, his pace (based on the twice as far in less than twice as long) was obviously faster than mine.  I have not run with this friend in quite some time.  I noted that I look forward to running with him but that I will have to work to keep up with him next time.  That’s also not really a surprise.  If I had run the Charles St 12 last year, he would have been way ahead of me.  In the Baltimore Running Festival half marathon he was well ahead of me, although not nearly as much as he’d planned.  The only race in the past twelve months for which I had the lead was the Boston marathon.  There, we ran nearly even for about the first half and then I had the lead.  It was the third marathon (and fourth race overall) where he was ahead or we were even but I eventually took off.  The other three times it was much closer to the end of the race.  But on any given day for any race less than twenty miles, he will be way ahead of me unless something goes seriously wrong.

But that is part of why running is such a cool sport.  Many of my friends are impressed at what I do.  The distances I go each day.  The distances I go in a year (1867 miles last year).  The pace at which I run.  But then I look at what some of my friends manage, and I realize that my running is neither as fast nor as far nor as consistent as many other people. 

This is the first year I recall lots of people posting about how many miles they ran during the year.  I have several friends over 2000 miles.  I have one friend who was a little closer to 2000 miles than I was.  And I have friends with a variety of shorter distances that either they achieves last year or are looking to achieve in the cominb year.  And, in the end, all are fine.

I posted online this morning that I was happy with my overall 1:03:40 for 8 miles as other than a 14.4 mile very hilly run (at least noticeably uphill in the second half) on the winter solstice, I had not run much that included hills since the 5 mile race on December 14.  And, for six days in a row, I had run nothing but treadmill miles—nearly all at an 8 min/mile pace with the most slight incline possible.

So, today, I began by climbing Highwood, running the down and up along Lake to York, and then the relatively flat from Lake and York to Lake and Bellona and then along Bellona toward Springlake Way for the first mile in 8:12.  Then, I ran down Springlake Way to Norhtern, across Northern to Charles, and up Charles toward Stevenson for the second mile in 7:55.  After that I continued along a relatively flat Charles, then hung a right on Stevenson toward Bellona and then downhill along Stevenson after crossing Bellona for mile 3 in 7:55.  Next, I ran up Stevenson toward Osler and then down Osler toward Towsontown—hitting 4 miles before I hit Towsontown.  Fourth mile run in 7:53.  Then, I continued along Osler, hung a right on Towsontown, and then around Bosley headed back toward York Rd, hitting mile 5 right around York and Bosely.  Mile 5 run in 7:53.  Along York Rd toward Regester, hitting 6 along York, with mile 6 run in 8:01.  It’s a bit more up on York Rd than meets the eye when driving.  Then, along Regester to Sherwood.  Hit 7 miles right about there with mile 7 in 7:58.  Finally, finished by taking Sherwood to the Alameda, then Walker, Northwood, Woodson, and home.  Last mile in 7:51.  Relatively consistent.  Home in time to eat, shower, get Christopher to the light rail, eventually pick up the dog, do some work, take Joshua to TWIGS, and go to SPH to record two lectures. 

What I learned while I was running was not just that I had not lost anything on my pace during my 10 days without hills, but that I really do enjoy the hills.  Maybe not a hill workout but definitely a workout with more variation that I get on most of my treadmill workouts.  I love the sounds of the city.  I love the smell of the city.  I love seeing the outside—more than I could ever enjoy any number of minutes or hours of watching TV while running.  I love being in running tights, a long-sleeved shirt made for cold weather, and a long-sleeved t-shirt.  I love seeing people with their dogs.  I love seeing other runners.  I love saying hello.  I love being a part of the early morning community.

Of course, I would not run outside in bitterly cold temperatures.  And I would not run on the streets with ice and a risk of falling that is more than the risk I already face on the sidewalks—which I have fallen on once or twice. And there are only certain parts of the city I will run in by myself.

And I learned how far I am willing to try to push myself this year—I wrote that I am on a 2000 mile quest.  If I simply run 1:04 per day at the same pace for each of 250 days, I’ll have the 2000 miles. I don’t need any 10 mile races.  I don’t need any half marathons.  I don’t need any marathons or ultras.  And 250 days is fewer days than I ran in 2013.  So this is very doable.

What will I have to overcome?  Well, sometimes the workouts can take much longer than 1:04 when I drive somewhere to run.  And sometimes I won’t run at an 8 minute per mile pace if I am running with certain friends.  And there will be times that I just won’t have the 1:04 even without needing to drive.  And there are times when I will want to go further—and run either a half marathon or a marathon. 

But each run will bring a lesson.  Each run will bring a meaning.  Each run will bring a revelation. 

Something about me.  Something about a friend.  Something about life.  Something about running.  Something about my city.  Something about my shoes. 

And I will take it all in. 

And I will write it all down.

And I will share it with anyone who wants to read.

And I will continue to try to understand the meaning of life.  How I fit in.  What I am called to do.  And what God’s plan is for me.

Other than to run and write and teach and learn and be the most supportive person I can be to my friends and family and students and colleagues.

Life is good. 

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