Monday, May 14, 2012

The Exhilarating Feeling Of Progress

When I first got the crazy notion to start running last December, I was only taking on this adventure with a somewhat half-hearted ambitiousness. I did a whole lot of internal eye rolling regarding some of my initial goals. Of course I had to sign up for some running events so, obviously living in San Francisco the "Bay To Breakers" was the first to come to mind. Initially I didn't have a whole lot of confidence in myself and reading through some of the finishing times for the different age divisions, I gave myself a probable time of 1hr 15 mins to complete the course. My speed has in the meantime and especially in the last month increased considerably. This past weekend I decided to do my Bay To Breakers Recon or, dress rehearsal of sorts. 1 hour seemed at this point to be a possibility.

I'm enjoying the science of it all and with the many books I've read and the forums I've perused on the subject of running, there is a general consensus that consistency in training and preparation are of utmost importance.

I got up early and had organized everything I would need the night before. Cathy made me some homemade oatmeal and I added berries, banana and washed it down with some Peets coffee. I was actually a bit nervous. In the back of my mind I was very afraid of not hitting my time goal. That confidence thing or lack worst enemy.
One of my worries was that I had gone for a pretty intense (although short) ride with a couple of pro cyclist's the previous day and kind of toasted my legs just a bit.
Due to my nervousness I elected to do a very easy jog to the start line.
When I arrived I set my Garmin, hit my timer and hit the street! Immediately I realized traffic and lights would be an issue. After two blocks I ran into a road block. It was a week before the race and already they were setting up for the race. I came to a stop, thinking I may have to detour around but, realized the side was although crowded with apparatus was still open so I continued with a bit of a slow down. Again two blocks later for some reason my Garmin lost it's connection and again I stopped about 2 minutes and then began moving. I was getting pretty aggravated at this point.
I then had to gauge my running speed to make sure and hit the green lights. Once I crossed Market and Van ness things moved a little smoother.

Hayes Street Hill: 
I backed off quite a bit on the second block of the climb. My heartrate was edging into the red zone. I also jumped to the side walk due to traffic and couldn't help but to stop behind a couple of tourists posing near the painted ladies on Alamo Square, I gave them a victory pose! They got a hoot out of it. I then hopped on to the Pan handle which is a bit winding so, that killed a little of my time.
Once I got to the park I finally was able to settle down to a steady pace. Between the park entrance and Stow lake was actually the toughest. That section is flat and your getting tired. The realization that you still have quite a ways to go is a little intimidating. I began wondering if I'd have enough kick left for the last few miles. Fortunately there were a lot of people training and I keyed on some younger guys who were a bit faster than me and attempted to keep up and let them set the pace for me. This will be the key for me. I need a target when I'm competing for the psychological boost. I was also getting pretty amped up and the adrenaline was starting to pump me up. By the time I started the down hill I was seriously kicking ass. I checked my time at the Polo fields and for the first time I realized that I may get under my estimated time. The last mile I was totally into the red zone but I felt great and I just hammered to the finish line dodging bikes and people. As I crossed the line at 7.46 miles my time was 58:50. One minute under my goal. I felt great and kind of proud of myself that my dedication and training had actually worked out. If there is one thing I'm desperately in need of these days is a nice big shot of confidence.

I now think I could go for 5 minutes off my time on race day, as long as I don't get trapped behind a sea of humanity.

I stopped for a Gatorade and downed a GU pak and jogged home happy with my accomplishment and excited to be back into competitive sports again. On my run home my spirits were high and I just thought back to the tough times in my life and somehow I was able to transcend them and not become completely destroyed over them. I've been very lucky and I'm grateful for that. I think I was born to run. I'm finding this out a little late in life but, that's OK. I'm having a lot of fun doing it...

My Strava readout is 7.5 miles and 1 hour. I guess there's a delay on the reading from when I shut off my Garmin.

 Here is my Strava report from my short but sweet ride with my friends on Saturday morning. These guys kicked my ass!

click for ride details

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