Sunday, March 27, 2011

Running in Place, Sort of

Yesterday, I did my fourth 5k. I started running on April 18, 2010, nearly a year ago, and since then I've been amazed at how much I've enjoyed it and that I've kept doing it.

I think I've already told the story on here of how much I hated running and how I thought I could never come to love it. But running this year has been my saving grace. Don't get me wrong—I still love to ride my bike—but my runs have done wonders for my psyche. They became my "pink shoe therapy."

That doesn't mean I don't have any goals when it comes to running, though. It isn't only my therapy. I also want to improve.

My most significant goal for running is that I want to complete a half marathon by the end of the summer. That will set me up for that pie-in-the-sky marathon goal I have next year. (Yikes!) And I am making some inroads toward that goal. Most weekends, I run eight miles, up from the mile or so I was running when I started a year ago. So that's some progress.
But I'm a little discouraged by how slow I still am. (I know. Slow on a bike, slow on foot.) My first 5k, which I ran back in June, I finished at around 42 minutes. For my second, I was significantly improved, and my finishing time was 38:05. My third, on Super Bowl Sunday, was a complete disaster. Yesterday, I was intent on beating the time of my second 5k and I missed it by 14 seconds.

What does all this mean? I can run much farther now, but I can't run any faster. I don't know if there's a way to improve both simultaneously. Maybe I should do some research. 

Today I should be racing Barry-Roubaix, but I'm not. I'm sore from running yesterday, I haven't trained, my helmet is broken, I can't really afford to spend the entry fee and I need to pack because I'm moving next weekend. There are myriad excuses for why I'm not there.

But there's also a larger issue, and that's what I want to concentrate on this year. I have to decide which goals are most important to me and what my priorities should be. Should I try to run faster? Should I try to run big miles? Should I keep the running to a minimum and concentrate on bike racing? Should I just ride for fun this summer and wait until cross season to race bikes? I guess I have some thinking to do.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Done with the DNF

This morning I had planned to go for a run, but that new pair of SIDIs, still sitting in the box from Christmas and newly equipped with a pair of cleats, made me head for the garage to get the Badger. I have been running for most of the winter and none of my bikes has really seen any action.

The sun was out and my ride was fairly enjoyable. I was out for a couple of hours and logged a pathetically low number of miles, but I was out at least. I felt a little sluggish because even though I have been running consistently, it just doesn't keep you in shape for the bike.

What was more significant about today's ride than anything else, though, was the moment I pulled the Badger out of the garage and looked at it. It was still covered with mud and sporting the number plate from Iceman. That's right, last fall's Iceman from hell. The race I so didn't want to finish. The race in which the mud caked my bike and sucked all the energy out of me. The race I made myself finish anyway.

When I looked at that bike I remembered how tough I am. In four years of bike racing I have had one DNF, and it was only because my bike was completely out of commission. I have faced races that were too hard, for which I was woefully unprepared, and races that were humiliating beyond comprehension. And even those I finished.

As some of you (presuming any of you are still out there) may already know, the last several months of my life have been pretty difficult. And as soon as all the logistics are worked out, the person labeled as my spouse on the sidebar of this blog will no longer be my spouse.

Given what's been going on, it's no wonder that I've been spending a lot of time wallowing. But I'm done with that now. That doesn't mean I'm finished with being sad or that I'm going to be happy every second. I am, however, done with my emotional DNF.

After all, I'm tough, as the Badger reminded me this morning.