On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Monday, November 29, 2010

Prospect Park Turkey Trot 5m

Last year, when I ran this race, I was ecstatic that I was running sub-11 minute miles.  This year, sub-10 minute miles.  If I continue to improve at this pace, I will beat the world record in only 6 short years.

Okay, maybe that's not happening.  But I'm glad to see that, although my marathon times might not be where I'd like them, at least I'm improving somewhat, somehow, at some distance.

Short recap: the race is five miles in Prospect Park.  They gave participants arm warmers (nice touch).  The course is fairly standard slightly rolling hills, with one notable exception: a giant, mile-long hill (mile 3 of the race).  The grade isn't too bad, but it just goes on and on.  It starts subtly, and (if you're me), you don't realize that you're in the middle of the hill and you can see how much it continues.  There was one point where I turned to the woman next to me and said, "I feel like I'm running in place!"  It just never seems to stop.  But then it does, there's a nice downhill, and you're almost done.

In case you're someone who's into statistics.
I'm not disappointed with my performance; in fact, I'm quite pleased.  However, I do wish that I'd warmed up some before the race.  I could tell from how sluggish I felt and how low my heart rate was for the first mile that I was working harder than I needed to (for slower return).  That first mile in particular should have been faster.

Immediately after the race, I got in a rental car to drive down to Thanksgiving in Philadelphia.  I have to say, the open road (well, the mostly open Jersey Turnpike) was the perfect complement to running hard.  I love driving and I miss being able to do it regularly.  I like to say that I'm an "assertive" driver, although I've heard at least one passenger suggest "aggressive" instead.  Whatever.  People are too passive as drivers these days.  I think it comes from everyone driving cars with automatic transmissions - what's that all about?  You don't feel like you're actually a part of the car the same way you do with a standard.  When you drive stick, it's like you and the car become one.  And it's awesome.  I could go on, but I'll save the rest for my car blog and go back to running talk.  (NB: I don't have a car blog.)

Open road tolling: Rod Blagojevich's gift to IL drivers.
The medal, and I think this is ingenious, is exactly the same medal as last year but on a different lanyard. I wore it in the car on the way down, and when I got to dinner, my host asked what I won.  I had to explain that I didn't technically win anything, besides a smug feeling.  He then asked if it was sort of like a summer day camper getting a medal for "best god's eye."  Sadly, yes.  Except it was "best" nothing.  I told the smart ass to get back in the kitchen.  (NB: No, I didn't.  I smiled and laughed politely and appreciated the delicious food and gracious hospitality.)