Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Running Appreciation Week

In my mind, this week should have been called Running Appreciation Week.

I got the best of everything this week, and I finally started feeling better, sort of like I'm running, instead of slogging. It's been nice to run distances that normal people run, and not feel like I have to do anything long, yet. I'll build up over the next month or two, but for now I'm really enjoying running 10 miles or less most days.

I don't talk race strategy much on this blog, mostly because I don't race much. But this year I've been prepping for some faster running. I think at some point it hits you, when you're nearing 50, that the speed you were gifted with might not be around too much longer, so better get out there and do something with it while you still can.

Not that you can't run fast when you're older, but realistically, the PRs get harder to come by, and I see some opportunities to improve on some distances that I never put my efforts into. Now or never. Let's just say I'm getting a head start on age 50, which is only one year and 7 months away.

I ran a 10 mile tempo run with Shannon on Wednesday, did some short, easy runs with strides this week, never went over 9 miles on my easy days, and ran a 5K today, and tomorrow I will be running a total of 16.3 miles, or 26.2 K, as part of a challenge that Shannon started, to run that distance on the day of one of the Olympic marathons.

The distance coincides perfectly with the timing to do my first long run. The phrases "16 miles" and "long run" don't normally go together in my world, but this fall, they will.

In the tempo run we were lucky to not have blazing heat. I ran okay, 8:40s, which are decent for me for a start. I'd like to get those well under 8 minute pace this fall, but I'll get there.

The 5K was the Run for Hope, a fundraiser for Carcinoid Cancer awareness. I've run it in the past but not hard. This time I wanted to push myself and get an idea of where my fitness is, so I can see my progress throughout this fall as I attempt to get faster.

I ended up running a very well-paced 23:10, a time which is adequate for a start. First mile split 7:26, mile 2 was 15:04. Not bad. What was interesting was that I placed 10th overall among women. Probably because the Wild West Relay is going on this weekend and there weren't as many fast people around town. But I was 7th in my age group, which means 7 out of the 10 fastest women including me, were ages 40-49. And I was the oldest of all of them, most of them were 40 or 42, with one 45 year old.

The thing is, this year I have run 4 5Ks, all between 22:43 and 23:20. That time is getting old. I haven't trained specifically to get faster at any distance except 100 miles, so it's hard to judge 5K times against that type of training. So, next weekend I am going to run another local 5K and see if I can get just a little faster. The Rat Race, in Ault. It's across I-25 from Fort Collins. Exciting stuff.

I do have a plan to run several more 5Ks, maybe a 10K (ouch- my least favorite distance these days), and a half-marathon or two over the next few months.

Where I hope all this is going, is a big 48 hour PR at Across the Years in December. The endurance thing is not the issue, it's my speed. I don't have to be fast to run for 2 days, but if I work on my speed, I can sustain a faster pace more easily when I'm just running easy. And that should, in theory, make me less fatigued after hours of running.

So that means part of my strategy this fall will be doing faster paced runs, but shorter distances. Fewer long long runs, and a lot of 20ish mile runs at a good pace.

I plan to take the old body for a test drive in Oklahoma in October at the 12 hour race at 24 The Hard Way, to see how it's all coming together. That race will also serve as one of two long long training runs, and everything else will be of the shorter, faster variety.

The only thing that I wish had been different this weekend was something that fell short, but only due to my own lack of foresight and planning. My husband went up to Gunnison to his old coach's 75th birthday celebration, and then I found out that a lot of the athletes I worked with when I was an assistant coach there in the late 80s were there too.

I just didn't make the connection, for some reason my brain pictured it as Dennis and a bunch of his old college buddies getting together and didn't connect myself with it. Maybe that's a hormonal brain thing too. Now I do regret missing it. But I did get to talk to a few of them on the phone and am now connected again so it will be easier to see some of them in the future.

We were all so fortunate to have lived and run up in Gunnison and Crested Butte back then. The places we went to do our runs, up Gold Creek, the West Elk area, Kebler Pass, Tincup, Taylor Park, Gothic, Alpine Tunnel, the quarries, Hartman's Rocks, I can't even remember all the names of the places but they were all so beautiful. And we got to see them like that before a lot of the big development came to the area around Crested Butte.

Not the least of which is that if I hadn't been living in Crested Butte in 1986 when Dennis was in Gunnison, we never would have met, almost 26 years ago to the day (August 6, 1986) when I won my first 5K ever and also met Dennis for the first time.

Anyway I feel very fortunate to have had those experiences. It was awesome to see the pictures Dennis sent me of everyone, I am so thrilled that these women all look so fit and have stayed so healthy in their 40s! They really look fantastic and it's nice to see that despite the intensity of competitive running they did when they were younger, they all managed to incorporate fitness into their lives since college.

Some of them now have children who are entering college, which is a little mind-blowing. But it has been 25 years since those days when they were on the team and I was an assistant coach. Unbelievable.

Back to running appreciation week, I love it when I have these moments, even after running for 30 years, that I can look back and see where I've been, and all the amazing people I've known, and realize more than ever that running has been the best thing, ever.


Ultra Monk said...

Somebody help me....I'm signed up for 48 hours at


I'll be running a half marathon in Germany while you do 24 the Hardway.

Alene Gone Bad said...

Have fun at Ultracentric. And in Germany!