01 October 2009

Heck of a Week, Heck of a Month

Thirty days ago the world looked dreary. Today, well, face it, it still does. Earthquakes! Tsunamis! Roman Polanski! But, the heck with the world. So what if we’re still not sure the recession is waning! So what if my bankrupt company is being sold and I’m crossing my fingers for continued employment! At least so far as my running and fitness level, thirty days has made a surprising difference. It’s been a heck of a month. Suddenly, life is good.

Being the obsessed type, I do of course keep a log, and in it I force myself to write a quick summary at the end of the month. Sum up the month in 40 words or so. Not quite as hard as summing up the year, or summing up your life (side thought, how’s this for a gravestone epitaph: “He went sub 3, now he’s sub 6” But I digress…), but still, this task makes you think a little bigger than just writing down each day’s run. At the end of August, I wrote:

A struggle. Body never really felt good all month. Average pace slowed. Fell short of mileage target, but still matched last month, and missed a few days due to NH hikes/knee wrench. Can’t commit to MDI yet.

Then, as I wrote last week, something clicked. And today I closed out the month with an 8-miler at 7-minute-flat pace that just felt grand, tallying up 214 miles in a month where I’d targeted 165, and that at a quick average pace. After that horrible August. 30 days, complete turnaround. Go figger.

To make it better, the month closed with a fun week. Friday we kicked off cross country season for my daughters’ middle school with our first practice. I can’t officially be the head coach, since I can’t be sure my work will allow me the time, so our other coaches hold that title and provide greatly appreciated help. But effectively, I’m the coach this year, and I’m having a ball. I’ve had my fun setting up a meet schedule and pulling the team together, and the kids have already repaid me with their positive attitudes. Positively infectious, I tell you, though not at all like that H1N1 thing.

Saturday was Runner’s Arts & Crafts Day with industrial materials and nasty chemicals. Seeing as how I’ve now got a cross country team, I figured we’d raise our stature with some real live equipment, so for forty bucks I built a set of stands for a finish line chute out of ubiquitous PVC pipe. For a thrill, we held a controlled burn of the spilt glue. Can you say, “Whump!”?

Sunday brought soggy fun at the 25th annual Forrest Memorial 5K, which as everyone around here knows, isn’t 5K, it’s more like 3.2 miles. Details, I know, but it makes you feel better about your time. That aside, the event is a local tradition to benefit the Special Olympics, and the organizers put on a fine party afterward. It’s all about the food, of course. Being a Sunday event, it’s a bit of a rush to make it over after Mass, but I had enough time to jog the course for a warm-up, only getting mildly soggy as the day’s rain subsided somewhat for the race.

Once again, it was pretty easy to pick out the fast guys ahead of time. There were two this time, accurately pegged in advance. Out the gate, they, I, and about four or five rabbit imposters kicked up some rooster tails in the rain, then, by a quarter mile out, the race was pretty much over. The imposters dropped rapidly, the fast guys took off, and I went for a run, not realistically thinking I could hold the pace of the fast guys, and never to see a challenger. I can’t recall a race that settled to finality faster. By a half mile in, I told myself that it was me versus me, and tried to hold a hard pace. With nobody in sight, I crossed the line in 3rd place, taking the masters, but in a fairly leisurely time a solid minute behind the fast guys and a minute plus ahead of #4, a good friend from my club. In a strange twist, I finished a 5K not entirely wiped out, thinking I had something left, wondering if I should have challenged myself to go with the fast guys. Matters not. Fun day. And my club took home a plethora of hardware. And I capped it off with a double workout with the kids on the cross country team a few hours later. In the rain. Because we love punishment.

Monday, hit the magical (at least for me) 200 mile mark for the first time in a year. To celebrate, I stopped in to visit Lady Healer, my PT, to revel in recovery. It was a year ago this coming weekend that the foot went snap. And a year later, I am feeling like I’m back.

And today, the kids ran their first cross country meet. The score? They got slaughtered, who cares? They had a ball, and frankly, so did their coach. We even tried out that fancy new low-tech PVC finish chute. Worked pretty good, save for the kids who thought they were supposed to run full speed through it. Ah, naïve youth!

All this fun in one most excellent week to close out one most excellent month. It’s almost too much to take. What more could you ask for?

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