Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Gifts of the Season

I tend to run alone. My friends who live near me do not understand my need to run, and certainly don’t want to run with me. They will happily drop off a water bottle or two when I have a 20 miler planned, but the thought of running 5 of those miles makes their skin crawl. So in general, I only run with people at races. I always figured I wasn’t missing out on much running alone all of the time.

This week I found out I was wrong. I was lucky enough to get two running days in with two entirely different runners, both of whom gave me so much in such in the duration of a single run, I had to put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard?) and just talk about it.

My first partner run this week was with my buddy Beth. She is a strong runner who has a marathon PR of 3:15, which she ran at Boston. For reference, my PR is 4:18. We never have run together, I honestly I thought my pace was too slow to run for her. I had a 10K run scheduled. She told me she had been taking it easy and would like to do a slower mid-distance run, so we made a plan to meet up.

Her easy pace turned out to be about a 7:30 minute mile. Go ahead and look at my marathon PR again, and you will understand how I might have been feeling. After a mile I was sure I wasn't going to make it 5 more at that pace, but I kept plodding along, nodding and gasping as she talked easily and caught me up on her life. At the turn-around, she said she wanted to go an extra mile or so and ran up the hill out of site, as I turned around. I know I slowed down after she turned around, but I am sure I was running faster than I would have at all if it wasn't for her. Beth caught me again in the last mile, and we finished the run in what would have been a big PR 10K pace for me.

I had a chance later in the week to run with a friend Danny. Danny is not your typical runner or triathlete - most who look at Dan think he couldn't run 10 feet, not to mention 10 miles. But looks are deceiving; Dan has run 2 marathons and done numerous Olympic distance triathlons. When I mentioned going for a 5 mile run the next morning, he asked if he could come along. Happy for the company, I agreed.

As we stepped out the door the next morning, our conversation turned to our 2010 goals, training, and life – the miles flew by. I mentioned that I was signed up for the Timberman Half Ironman in August. Dan was so positive and kept saying, “Holy cow, that is awesome! Good for you!” We talked about this year’s Kona, and he asked me when I was doing a full Ironman. I laughed him off, but the thought stuck in my head. After 4 miles, Danny headed home and I finished off my 5th mile with dreams of Ironman dancing around in my head.

I learned a lot in those two runs. From Beth I realized that I can push myself to run hard and fast for longer than I thought. I never would have known I could run that fast if it wasn’t for her. I realized that I can I train my body to hold a faster pace for a longer distance. New goal: sub-4 hour marathon this spring. Or as close to 4h as I can get.
My run with Danny re-lit my off-season training fire with his excitement and support of my 2010 race plan. He inadvertently reminded me to always think bigger, reach higher, and that your biggest limiter is always yourself. I came away from that run with an even stronger resolve to stick to my winter training plan.

So whether it is a faster runner pushing you harder than you thought you could go, or a positive, happy, fun person who believes in you more than you believe in yourself, running with friends is good. If only I could convince my friends to run.

1 comment:

Lora said...

Hey, I saw this post over on GOTRIbal and wanted to leave a comment there, but couldn't yet leave a message on your wall.

Really, really well written post. I like to train by myself, for the most part, but on the rare occasion I've run with others, I've PRed.

Onward and upward!