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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Encouraged or Discouraged?

I ran the numbers of my outdoors 5k/5000 meters run. This includes both races and solo track times, and does not include treadmill times. Since my goal is about an outside time, either a track or race will do, but a treadmill will not.

I must admit I took more hope from my treadmill times than apparently is realistic. I saw it drop to 21:52, and though, why not? It might be that yesterday's 22:31 was a bad race, that under other conditions, I might have ran better. There is no way to know that, so I'll just look at the facts.

In reverse order, these are my times for the 5K/5000 meters:
  1. 22:31 9-3-07 St. Pet's 5K
  2. 23:13 7-25-07 Geneva Viking Sunset race
  3. 25:12 6-2-07 Run for the Animals race
  4. 25:22.33 5-30-07 COD track
  5. 26:33.05 5-21-07 COD track
  6. 27:05 5-11-07 COD track (adj)
  7. 27:54 5-6-07 COD track (adj)
Looking at the spread of times and dates, the pace of my improvement varied greatly.

Seconds Improved Per Day (average between races)
  • 9.8
  • 3.2
  • 7.9
  • 3.3
  • 2.2
  • 1.0
  • 2.7 average from May 6 to September 3
Above, the numbers shown the decline in improvement. Improvement is, of course, still good. However, give the current distance between my present status, and my goal, if these numbers portray the continual trend, 20:00 looks far, far off.

A second a day? That's the average improvement from the July 25 Viking Run through yesterday's race. To achieve 20:00, I need another 148 or 149 days. That means January 29, and this only is true if the trend does not slope even slower.

There is a plenty of room to be discouraged since I announced I wanted to hit my goal by September 30. While my date was arbitrary, it looked for awhile to be possible.

With each run, each race comes a victory. That victory may be bold and exciting, like a PR, or quieter, like the completion of a consistent week of workouts. My times now aren't real PRs the same way a hardscrabble fought few seconds are nicked off a year-old time. Mine are the easy ones, shed with each successively lost pound. They are victories just the same.

As poundage goes, I'm holding tight. No weight loss to speak of. My resting pulse rate, as well as recovery time after hard runs is improving. When I started in May, my pulse would still be very high hours later. Now, it gets back to the low 50s quickly. My overall resting pulse has been inconsistent, but last night and this morning was in the mid-40s, with right now at 47.

Encouraged?
Yes. I'm leaner. Muscle definition is increasing my legs. My face is thinner. my pulse is slower. My blood pressure is better.

Yes. I'm faster. I have track and race times to prove it. I keep a spreadsheet of my best times in each distance, and every distance has improvement. I have outkicked any runner within five meters with 200 meters to go.

Discouraged?
Somewhat. All this improvement aside, and not taking away from the enjoyment I have in it, I want to run like I once ran. I see the times in the top 10 of the 5Ks in the area, and remember once running there. Mere pluck and hard work is not enough. Progress takes work, and the endurance not only to run the distance but to suffer through the pain of not getting there quickly.

January 29? Ugh.

Is all lost? Maybe as far as my September 30 goal is, yes. But the winter will bring good and bad things training-wise, and I'm not sure where it will land. I'm hopeful.

Lost weight, gained muscle. I'll be joining COD's Fitness Lab. It is essentially a basic gym. Treadmills, weight machines. Nothing complicated. I have not lifted weights in years, and when I did, not seriously. A winter of lifting should do wonders for my scrawny, untoned blobbish physique. I will lose weight, hopefully, finally, and be able to see for myself the benefits that come with this. Lots of treadmill LSD, little speedwork (not sure how the Jim Spivey Running Club manages this during cold weather). With all of this, few, if any, races to check against. When the weather warms, I will hit the roads with, in a sense, a new body ready to race.

And, when it all comes down to it, I want to run fast. I will not be satisfied with 22:31. Not 21:11. Not 20:00. I want to run in the 17s again. I want to race, not merely run. I want to look over the starting line and know who I have to beat. I want to crush him in a beautiful dueling sprint that leaves us both giving the other that nod that comes with knowing it was a victory earned, not given.

Today, I'm not a jogger. I am a runner. But, I am not also yet a racer.

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