Monday, January 2, 2012

#382: Resolutions

Here's my line for yesterdays race:
Coldstream Research Park
Lexington, KY
January 1, 2012, 1:00 p.m.
(~45 degrees, Cloudy Skies and VERY Windy) [Swackett said the wind chill was 31°. I believe it]
Overall Name Age Gp  Place Time Pace
251/354 Pennsy M 50-54 7/8 53:55.6 10:47.1
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 Yesterday was a great start to the new year. I wanted to run arbout 12 miles yesterday, but Coach Melissa kept talking about this race that would be raising money for a young man named "RJ" who had Hodgkins Lymphoma, Stage 4A. That's one I couldn't say "no" to. 

I decided to make up the mileage in a LSR with a friend in the morning. 
50°. 6.08 mi/1:10:48 @ 9:00 AM. LSR, Legacy (b) from Coldstream. Adidas. 5:00 run/0:30 walk. Splits 12:04 11:40 11:44 11:40 11:29 11:14. Beautiful morning run.
The sun was shining and the air was a perfect 50°; a little too cold for standing around in shorts, but just right for running. We trotted down the Legacy Trail into the Bluegrass morning, along the fence rows and the cow barns and the horse farms. These runs always make me so grateful for the place I live and the chance to run in such beautiful scenes. We kept a nice, easy pace, and finished with breakfast of eggs and grits at the Cracker Barrel.

The race was scheduled to start at 1:00, so I made my way back to Coldstream and parked to wait. Tried to call Mrs P, but got voice mail. I called Mum to wish her Happy New Year, and we caught up on one another's news. As I sat in the Honda chatting with her, I noticed that the car seemed to be rocking. Outside, paper, branches, and other surprisingly large objects were moving horizontally past my windshield. The blue morning sky cooled to a steely glow. Winter had decided he had waited long enough to visit Kentucky. When I opened the car door, it felt as if the temperature had fallen 20°, though the thermometer swore it was only 5. I reluctantly pulled off my warm-up pants. Even more reluctantly, I took off my damp shirt, greased the nips, and pulled on three top layers for the race. I could always take one off if I got over heated, but to be honest, I did not anticipate that eventuality. Then I kicked myself for taking those gloves out of my bag in the morning when the back yard felt more like April 30 than January 1. It was a short jog up to the hotel where registration was going on.

The big, beautiful lobby was filled with people in running gear, some of it seasonally appropriate, some of it just plain crazy. My friend DJ was just wearing shorts and his "Run Kentucky" technical shirt. I didn't know whether to admire him, or to medicate him. A strangely familiar man greeted me warmly. "I'm sorry," I said, "But I don't remember..." "I'm John," he smiled. "I work with Dr. Kudramoti. You probably don't recognize me in my civilian clothes." John was the resident who raced me to the ER when they discovered I was about to die from a blood clot in my chest. Not the kind of guy you want to forget no matter what he's wearing, even without your glasses. We shook hands and smiled. I assured him I was doing great, and wished him a good run. 

Registration was in a large meeting room off the atrium. To the right was a loooong line of runners waiting for on site registration. (This not a strategy I recommend, by the way.) From the left, I heard another familiar voice greeting me. My friends Krissie and Nathan were volunteers, distributing bibs to those of us who had pre-registered online. Krissy told me she had decided to volunteer for more races than she ran this year. Nathan was wearing an orange safety vest, and said he would be at the last turn, pointing weary runners in the right direction. These are some very cool people. But soon, they would be much cooler. I decided that I would like to do some volunteer support one day, but that I would look for a chance to do it in May, not January. I don't imagine there was much demand for Gatorade yesterday.

I wandered the lobby for a while, listening to Indian folk music on my headphones and greeting runners I knew from John's Striders. It's surprising how many new people I've met this year. We run together on weekends, and keep up with each other online during the week. Yet another pack that has welcomed me in.

My LIVESTRONG cohort, LaDonna showed up and I went with her to the registration room. by now the line stretched around the walls, but by some miracle, an angel with a handful of bib numbers offered to sign her in as we were making our way to the end of the queue. LaDonna has earned a lot of karma points during her battle. I suggested she might want to pick up a lottery ticket on what was obviously a lucky day.

R.J. Hijalda
On my way to the start, I met a bald young man in the hall. He was surrounded by friends, and was wearing a bib. I heard someone introduce him, and stopped. "Hey, are you RJ?" I asked. "Yeah," he said. He had a friendly, open face. "I'm Bob. I had cancer last year. You're doing great. You can beat it. Keep fighting." He met a lot of people yesterday. I hope he remembers me. RJ has a lot of friends, and a lot of heart.

This is the part where I should tell you about the race. I'm not sure I remember many details. I remember feeling numb. I remember running into the wind, praying for the next turn that would change it into a tail wind. Early on, I looked down at my sport band and saw it blinking crazily. I pushed the buttons until it stopped, but I knew from the first quarter mile that something had gone screwy with it and I wouldn't be able to rely on it for time or distance today. I set it to monitor my pace, and chugged along,  Trying to sustain  11:00/mile. There are a couple of long climbs on this course. Mercifully, the wind blew from behind on them. I tried to glide on the downhills, letting gravity and an easy stride carry me along. I had a hard time finding anyone to keep pace with. I'm sort of half-fast, now. I'm either passing people, or watching real runners pull away. On the other hand, I don't get passed nearly as much as I used to. Around mile 3, I found a woman I could track, and we exchanged places several times. You sort of get a feel for when somebody likes running with you. She was kind of hard to read. Not everyone appreciates being passed by a Fat Man. At mile 4, she shifted gears, and pulled away on the last long climb of the course. I thought about trying to keep up, but knew if I tried to push my way up the hill, I would be out of gas before I got go the top. I let her go, but I was just a little grumpy about it. A couple of young men zoomed past me, playing hare to my tortoise. It wasn't long before they learned that Aesop was right. I confess, that felt good. I turned the corner at the top of the hill feeling surprisingly fresh. Up ahead, I could barely see my former traveling companion steaming along. I know this course well. With the exception of one last little rise, it was all downhill from here to the finish. I decided to see how close I could get to her before the finish.

Jeff Galloway talks about "dirty tricks," little mind games you can use to keep your head in a race. I fashioned an invisible rubber lasso and threw it around her waist. Then I tied my end around my head. As she ran, without realizing it, she was actually pulling me closer. On the last rise, my watch beeped: my last walk break. Instead, I eased back to a jog, gathering steam for the downhill to the finish. As my watch beeped again, I crested the hill. I looked down and saw my friends Krissie and Nathan, freezing their butts off, pointing runners toward a side trail. Through the bare branches, I saw the timers and the finishing chute. I dropped my imaginary lasso and turned on the treadmill I have been training on this week. The belt spun faster, but my legs moved easily, Krissie and Nathan cheered my name and I smiled as I passed them. Ahead I could see the finish line, and my nemesis, just ahead. She had no idea I was about to pounce. She turned into Wile E. Coyote, mystified at the "whoosh" of air and the cloud of dust that flashed past her, 15 yards from the finish. Far behind me, I could hear an Acme anvil falling. I didn't look back to see if it got her.
Resolution Run, 45° 5 mi/53.55 @ 1:00, Coldstream. Adidas, Intervals, 5:00 run/0:30 walk.
At the end of the chute, we smiled. She wasn't such a villain after all. "Were you keeping time?" she asked. I looked at my watch. "50:33," I read. We were both amazed and delighted. Runners like us can only dream of that kind of pace. It wasn't until I got home and downloaded my runs into Nike+ that I discovered my gizmo had failed to record the first 4/10ths of a mile. I kind of hope she never found out. She looked really happy about her new PR.

I went to the car, put on a coat and some pants, and walked back to Krissie and Nathan's corner, hoping to see some friends finish. It wasn't long before I saw LaDonna coming down the hill, running strong and smiling enough to beat the clouds and the wind. I joined her for the last hundred yards, but at the end, I pulled back and let her finish on her own. After she got through the chute, she came to me, glowing. "That's the first time I've ever run 5 miles," she said and we threw our arms around one another. I know what that feels like; to go somewhere you've never been before; to reach something you once feared you would never reach. It is the greatest feeling in the world. And it's an honor to be there when someone you love feels it. That's holy.

God, but I love to run.

Peace, y'all.



  1. Great post on this race! I think I remember you passing me somewhere around the middle. That wind made 5 miles feel like 10! I probably hated you a little, but no hard feelings. ;)

  2. Great job! And for the record, I think I needed medicating.

  3. DJ, maybe a little of both...


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