Friday, August 3, 2012

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

How am I going to deal with getting slower?

Last Sunday, I ran the Chicago Rock N Roll half marathon. I’m not going to say I raced a half marathon, since I didn’t go into it looking for a race, I went in looking to run fast, yes, but since it was only 35 days after running a full marathon, and 12 days after a 20 miler, I started slow to test my legs and see where they were at.

They felt pretty good, so I proceeded to kick out each mile, to speed up, to get into that zone where I felt I was kicking ass, where my everything was being tapped into, and the only way to get by was to tell myself this pain was temporary, that the highs I was sucking in with each breath made the effort worth it, and I cruised to the end with a 1:39 and pretty darn happy with the result. In fact, I looked at the marathon foto shots, and yes, I see exhilaration and determination.    

So, a pretty fast marathon has become a 1:39.

A 1:39 was the half marathon split I hit just 2 years ago en-route to a full marathon time of 3:20.

A 1:35 was the half marathon splits of many of my marathons completed in the last decade.

And a 1:30 is my half-marathon PR. 

And now I’m happy at 1:39.

Even adjusting a few minutes  for the 80 degrees heat, it’s clear I’ve slowed. My regular running pace has moved from 8 minute miles to  8:15’s. My mile intervals have moved from the high 6:50’s to the 7:20 area.

I realize that time is relative, that there are many faster runners who would be disappointed to run even my fastest times, and other runners would love to be able to kick out a 1:39 half.  But all I can think of is the poem we talked about in 9th grade English class:

To An Athlete Dying Young
The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

Today, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

I know part of it is my ego making me even worry about this crap. In fact, it is perhaps my ego even writing this right now, trying to remind folks what I once could run.   Yes, that ego even rears it’s ugly head when I write down my DailyMile training log and put in something like 6 miles at 51 minutes.  Oh shit, everyone’s gonna laugh at you.

When I was a huge, gross drunk pig in college (and I was) I felt so nasty about myself once in a while I’d drunkenly say "you know, in High School, I was a varsity miler as a freshman and ran a 4:30 mile as a sophomore."  Yep, that was my ego trying to fight against the gross pig I had become. (and besides, everybody has run a 4:30 mile in high school).

But it's more than ego. Much more and much deeper, because but I also fully believe that I tap into the deepest parts of myself during the longer, faster runs.  Its only when my legs are fresh and I can run uninjured and unencumbered by the effects of the last training that I can reap all the benefits of making the endorphins and spiritual lubricants move through me. In other words, the faster I run, the better the dope.

I do feel my legs can be just as fast, that I still have it in me, but the problem is, injury looms larger, and recovery times takes twice as long.

If I really wanted to work harder, I am sure i could speed up my recovery time. I could take up yoga, add some more stretching, throw in ice baths, sacrifice a goat to the gods, and improve my diet.  But, I'm just not all up for all of that just yet.

So, how am I going to deal with getting slower? Well, today I’m not a gross pig. At least not usually, I’m still oiling the wheel and truckin that rig hard.  And I’m going to realize that the highs are just as high, that the psycho-spiritual-mental-emotional benefits are all there, even if they are more fleeting, and I'm going to be grateful instead of pissin and moaning how Youth is Wasted on The Young.

Yes, this sounds good.

And, I need to listen to my own thoughts, when I wrote "They Have Age Groups For A Reason"

While I was running the Chicago Rock N Roll half marathon, I saw a sign that stuck with me.

And that day isn't coming anytime soon, for I've got Miles To Go Before I Sleep, and I do Not Plan to Go Gentle Into That Good Night,

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 


Vaudiophile said...

I never managed a mile under 10 minutes in high school. Doing much better now.

SupermomE13 said...

1:39 is still a dang good half time, and I would not be surprised if you have faster times in you still. That said, I know the day will come for all of us when we plateau, and then start slowing down. I figure I can only ever do the best I can in the age/stage/moment I am in, and that is all I can do. Keep up the great work!

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