After a nap…
There lies a small town where the river bends. Through downtown of a tiny town, over the lone bridge in the community, carving alongside the ancient bluffs is a simple road that weaves along the flowing water. It’s level, it’s comfortable, it’s well worth running on. The lack of elevation on the road makes for a fast time, but there’s enough of a shift in feet that you’ll eventually begin to feel the lactic acid building in your quads and hamstrings.
Overall it’s a beautiful, isolated, and fast. It’s where lately I’ve come to love working on 5000 meter runs. My traditional road route is great for a solid workout, but speed rarely becomes a forefront thought due to the rapid adjustments in elevation (I’m still weak when climbing). This road though, this is the perfect escape route. Fast, smooth, and quiet. You can hear the river at mile mark one as it greets the road, and aside from a few vehicles, it’s going to be birds, shoes, and your own breath that’ll keep you company on this path.
That’s where I went tonight to cap off the week. Only running a few days this week had me down, and an aching Achilles didn’t help the mindset. I told myself to head west to the road, and just get in a solid run to head into the weekend with. What I didn’t know at the time was how solid of a run it really was going to be.
After messing with the phone for nearly ten minutes to stage a photo on the bridge (the one problem of running alone, you’re never going to get the really cool shots), I finally began my journey. Due to the road being on the east side of the bluff I was running against time, the sun going down was creating a rapidly dark environment on a road with no lights. Five minutes into the run I heard the robotic voice over my Yurbuds:
5 minutes completed, zero point five two miles completed, pace is nine minutes forty nine seconds…
Immediately I started to do the math in my head, if I could keep this pace for the next 2.6 miles I could ring in a 5K under 30:00.00, something I’ve never done in my entire life. I kept pushing, working on breathing, trying to stretch out, and at the same time not overexerting all the energy I had before hitting the halfway mark. At the turn around I learned that my pace was down to 9:44, I took a slight breather heading back and gained two seconds on the pace. By mile two though it was getting dark…quick. I mustarded up what I had left, started yelling at myself (out loud), and kept hitting the pavement. At minute twenty five I was at 2.62 miles. If I could squeeze out the final half mile in a respectable time I could still get it under the thirty mark.
At this point it wasn’t the burning that I was feeling in my muscles, it was the complete drain of energy. I hadn’t had enough food today, and I was paying a dear price with the final meters before me. In the distance, through the trees I could see the lights from the small town. The stars were nearly visible, and I was using headlights from passing cars as a guide to get me back into town. I definitely prayed a few times to get back without being attacked by a mountain lion…or a deer.
At the bridge, where this whole adventure started without even thinking about the idea of completing a personal record, I crossed back while ending the run on my GPS.
A time that I will forever treasure in my heart. Even at my age, and even at my weight, I was able to clock a 5K finally under thirty minutes. Interesting factoid about that actually, a few years ago I weighed a measly 230lbs, and currently I’m roaming around the 268lbs mark. During the “Turkey Trot” that year (a 5K race prior to gluttony for the day), the best time I was able to come up with was a very disheartening time around the 45:00.00 mark. Just a fun comparison to show you that not all weight is evil, and in some random cases it doesn’t mean that your times can’t improve.
What’s the point of sharing this runner driven story on here? Honestly, I just wanted someone to know personally I achieved something great today. Understand that it isn’t necessarily aimed at growing my ego, but I seriously just wanted someone, anyone to know that I did something that I wasn’t prepared to do, and something that completely surprised me.
P.S. Also thought of a awesome shirt to add to the “Last American Runner” collection, a shirt that reads “Keep The Pace”…a play off the phrase “Keep The Faith”