The Race is O’re…

The race was Saturday. After hints of rain earlier in the week, the day turned out to be absolutely beautiful. It was dry, about 60 when we started and 70 when we (well, I) finished. A little over 1100 in the half marathon, so the traffic wasn’t too heavy, but there are always people around you. A flat, flat, flat course, but at about 4500 feet altitude.

It all went pretty well for me. No problems (except for too little speed training and too much age). I was really happy that I was over 4 minutes ahead of my schedule at 5 miles, and a little further ahead of schedule at 10 miles. My downfall was the last 5k (a half marathon is 10 miles plus a 5k). I really slowed down in the last 5k, and lost the 4+ minutes I had banked at the beginning. The final result was a finish that was right on schedule: 2:37:30.. Just to show how bad the slow down was, I talked with a woman I had been running with in the first half of the race. She picked up in the second half and finished around 2:23. That’s a big difference

Overall, I was still pretty happy with my performance. I finished 4th in my age group. I’m still pretty unhappy to realize that I was running 2:10 less than 10 years ago. But, abdominal surgery and age took care of that.

I’ve largely accepted the age related decline I’m experiencing. But there is still that voice in the back of my head that says “more training and you’ll be back where you should be.” Another case of high expectations meeting reality, I guess.

Do you notice age-related declines in performance or ability? How do you deal with it?

Home Stretch

Yesterday was my last long training run before next week’s race. 16km. Some easy runs next week just to keep up the routine, but nothing too long or hard. I went to the river again to watch the balloons, and once again they went somewhere else. Sigh. 

I did a short run this morning with my daughter, who is also running the race, and with her daughter. I love these 3 generation things even though I don’t see much of them after we start. I think it is the idea that they are still willing to go out with me that I like so much. 

The race is on a flat course parts of which I have run many times. It’s out and back, so no course complexities to worry about. The weather should be beautiful, just like it was today. So, the hard part will be finding a place to park. Aside from that, just go out and have fun with a few thousand of your best friends. 

Peaches

Peaches-1There is a new kid on our block. Peaches is an apricot toy poodle. He’s about 6 years old and he has a heart condition. He moved in with us on Sunday and has begun to make himself at home. We didn’t realize how dull our lives had become.

Peaches was a bit of a surprise in several ways. We have had a couple of standard schnauzers, and it is about 2 1/2 years since Gigi passed on–the result of a brain tumor. We had gotten used to that size dog and didn’t really want a smaller one. Additionally, we thought we were going to inherit  a great dane named Annie, so Peaches was a real surprise. The great dane is still a possibility at some time in the future. Wouldn’t that be a thing to watch–the great dane and the toy poodle.

How did this come about, you might ask. Go on. Ask. You might as well because I’m going to tell you anyway. It happened because my Muse plays the harp. La Muse is a professional musician (piano, organ, and harp) who spends much of her time playing for hospice patients. And, much of the rest of it playing memorial services. She prefers playing for patients who are “actively dying”–you knew that was a process, right? Spending time with these patients in their last hours or minutes, she can often help the patient with pain or with “terminal agitation” through judicious application of therapeutic music. I’m not sure how this works. My explanation by analogy with the test for “is it a duck”, is that she looks like an angel, sounds like an angel, and acts like an angel, so she must be one.

Peaches belonged to one of her patients. When the patient passed, Peaches went to live with the patient’s son. But the son already had three other dogs (two of them big), and uncountable numbers of little grandchildren running around the place. It wasn’t an ideal situation for a new little dog, so Peaches whipped out his laptop (everybody has one these days, don’t they) and sent us an email asking if he could come stay with us. And, here he is.

The situation with Annie is much the same, but the story is not yet over. Her owner was on hospice, but wasn’t ready to give up Annie, so she is still there as his companion. Someday we may get an email from her, too.

Training Schedule

I’m doing a half marathon at Duke City, now just two weeks away. This will be a group affair: my wife, who walks, and her walking buddy will be doing it as will my oldest daughter. It feels like a group effort even though we may not see each other after the start. Just knowing they are out there somewhere means I’m not doing it alone. You may well ask how one could feel alone when in the midst of all those thousands of people, and I can’t answer except to say that you can.

I’m still serious about how I perform despite being as slow as I have become. I’m not going to win. I probably won’t even win my age group, although I’ll come a lot closer, but my time and performance are still important. So, like most serious runners, I have a training schedule that I am trying to follow. It’s like most such schedules: shorter runs during the week; longer runs on the weekend; background runs a few months ago; more speed oriented more recently; extensions to longer mileage on the weekends. Pretty standard.

One of the things the running mags and books don’t talk about much is what to do when the plan doesn’t work. Last Saturday, I went out to run 18km (16km=10mi, so 18 is 11.25). I had had a flu shot on Friday, but felt no after effects and I expected no problems. I had been extending 2km each week (I’ve omitted mention of rest weeks, but I do know about them), and my experience was pretty uniform: the additional 2km felt pretty bad, but the next week it was fine. Last week’s run didn’t work that way. At the beginning, I felt good. By 8km (5mi) I was minutes ahead of schedule. I was still well ahead at 9km, the turn around point. By 14km I was right on schedule. By 15, I was out of gas and could not continue running. Walking back to where I started was a major disappointment. I took that failure badly, and it took much of the week to get over it.

What do you do to recover from a failure like that? How do you get back on track? My approach to that is to repeat the week. The previous week wasn’t completely lost. I did cover the distance, just not as fast as I had hoped. So, I did it again this week. Busy and stressful week at work, and I missed one of the mid-week runs. But, this morning I felt good. Back down by the river because it’s the first weekend of Balloon Fiesta and they usually fly along the river–500 balloons in the air at once is quite a sight. Unfortunately, they go where the wind takes them, and today the wind took them elsewhere, so no low flying balloons overhead. Much of the run was like last week. At 9km I was way ahead of schedule. By 14km I was right on time, having slowed down and burned through those minutes I had banked in the early going. But, this time I didn’t run out of gas at 15 and successfully finished the planned 18km. I’m still unhappy about last week’s failure, but this week’s success has improved my mood. On to the race.