10 October 2014
Her Day, Not Mine!
It is fun, and in a way a relief, to write of someone else’s adventures once in a while within these lines of prose. It takes the pressure off writing about myself without coming across as a cad; trying to share the highs without boasting while relating the lows without whining. When someone else is the center of attention, I can pretty much say whatever I want, within the bounds of propriety. And this time, Dearest Daughter the Younger has earned her spot in these column inches.
Yeah, but we’ll get to that later. Back to me for a while.
I can’t tell you if I’m surging back into top shape or mere weeks from death. Inconsistency is the title of my training log. Speed is a memory, or at least speed as I knew it just a year and a half back. But as you’ve seen, since mid-summer, I’ve taken a ‘damn the torpedoes’ attitude and plunged back into the racing pool, even if mostly in the shallow end, and in the head of someone as twisted as I, that means a fall marathon is a fait accompli. It’s just what we do, right?
I’d entertained thoughts over the summer of dipping my toe into the fresh waters of a new race. Hartford stuck out, being relatively close, of reasonable reputation, and, interestingly, teasing top-notch racers with mini-elite packages. I spent about an hour thinking about that; after all, my 2013 Boston, still recent on my resume, ranked pretty strongly on the senior circuit, as did a few other outings before the Achilles slap-down, and hey, maybe if they wanted a competitive field in each age group…since maybe by fall I’d be back in that kind of shape…
Sanity caught hold, and I dropped that idea hard and fast like a heavy chunk of granite. Seriously, it would have been a stretch anyway – I’m no two-thirty-marathon stud, nor even, at my age, in the running for the overall masters column. And as the fall crept closer, and that inconsistency as well as various other woes continued to prevent solid training, practicality followed. Seriously, why was I doing this, anyway? In my shape it wasn’t to win anything, so why travel? My fall goals were simple: improve my seed time for this next Patriot’s Day, and land a qualifier for the one following, which – if that happens – will be number ten, a golden ticket that makes future Bostons just a little bit easier to get into. So if a decent time was the only goal, why play games? Just hit the local favorite and be done with it.
Except that the local favorite, it turned out, was all but sold out by the time I came to this conclusion. With literally no time to spare, I grabbed one of the few remaining slots, only to discover hours later that the annual race to honor my lost friend John Tanner had been moved to that same morning. Missing that was not in the plan and was not a happy thought, but the deed was done, and Bay State – for my fourth time – was booked. Though as it creeps closer, I can’t say that improving that seeding time is a strong likelihood, based on training, racing, and an utterly horrible final attempt at one more long one before coasting into a taper. At least today’s set of Yasso 800s, traditionally my last hard workout before a marathon, went reasonably well.
But before we got here, last weekend there was one more hill not to climb, but to descend; a race that for years I’ve avoided, either by racing out of town or working it as a volunteer or even, last year, power-walking it in the walking cast boot after the Achilles surgery and the Clotty Adventure. After all those years, it just seemed like it was time to tackle the Marlborough Main Street Mile.
It’s not my forte. It’s only a mile (it’s a hair short, but close enough), and I’m barely warmed up after three. It’s all about speed, and even in my good years, that’s not my finest quality. And it’s downhill – almost entirely save a couple of flat stretches. I’m an uphill guy. Strike one, strike two, strike three, and you know why I’ve avoided this one for years.
Confront your demons.
But first, I promised this would be about DDY. Remember that, a page back? I keep my promises.
Said offspring is enjoying – thoroughly enjoying I might note – her first year on the high school cross country team, made doubly fun not only because she’s finding new gears she didn’t know she had, but also by association, having landed on a team that, at last count, was something like eight and one. Winning feels good.
A couple cross country meets a week pretty much rules out weekend racing, which, as you read, worked nicely to the advantage of a bunch of old guys at the Forrest a week back. But a mile? Just a single mile? Her agonizing decision to run or not got downright tense the night before. I wasn’t much help; knowing my need for a ludicrously long warm-up for a race with the word speed in its description, I wasn’t sure how the logistics would fall out. I dithered on the choice as well, despite my bias toward prodding her to run, until she made the game-day decision to toe the line.
Now, this is supposed to be about her, but I can’t tell you much about her race. She came in almost exactly a minute behind me, but I didn’t see it. A minute after running that mile, I had yet to emerge from my post-race delirium. Oh, what I missed.
There’s a reason I’ve avoided this race. A minute after I finished, I was still in no condition to notice that DDY was holding off a pack of females bidding for her slot, not just leading the youth, but leading all of the females. All of them. And holding them off, barely, but enough, across the line, over a minute faster than any mile she’d ever run, impressive even if it wasn’t all downhill and a hair short, yes, winning the whole shootin’ match among those with two X chromosomes.
And to think about that choice, do I run or not? Nothing happens until you step on the line.
Now, I’m not entirely sure about my daughter being called, “The Fastest Woman in Marlborough,” but I think I’ll get my mind out of the gutter and enjoy it.