With the lack of competitions this year due to the pandemic, we’ve adjusted our plans and expectations like everyone else. Yes, we did get in three triathlons that were held this summer. But we learned that the Florida Half Ironman my wife planned to attend in December was not going to happen. We ‘half-expected’ that, of course. Races are being cancelled for good reason. It doesn’t pay to be ignorant or selfish in the face of this tricky-ass, random disease called Covid-19.
So we decided to run 13.1 miles together as part of her workout plan. Her coach scheduled the run, so why not do it together and see what comes about?
We chose the Fox River Trail for its convenience and it amenities. There are a couple bathrooms along the way in case of need, and that works best for us. So we set out on a calm, clear day to run 13.1 miles our way.
We hit the turnaround point at exactly one hour. She still had a two-mile interval to do so we took the short recovery period and then nailed those two miles at near 9:00 pace. We took the three minute rest interval, then picked it back up and finished in 2:02 for the full half-marathon. That was exciting.
That’s such a great sign for Sue’s running fitness. Her times have come down from the 2:10 zone to the point where she can run sub-2:00 with a bit of concerted effort. It’s been an interesting journey training with her along the way; watching her endurance progress, to see her running form grow more efficient and watch her confidence build.
I’m not her coach but feel some gratification in helping her achieve these pillars of progress. Running with her has built my own mileage back up to 25-30 miles a week. A few years back, I’d sort of given up running 13-milers. My hips tightened so bad during the Madison Half just three years ago that I was reduced to lying down on the ground to stretch in order to continue at all. I finished just over two hours that day after racing 8:00 pace for the first nine miles. You can see how slow I ran the last five miles! That was a tarsnake moment for sure. But I didn’t let it stop me. This summer I cranked out a ten-mile at 8:30 pace. So the times are coming down. I’ll never touch my PRs of years ago, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is working on what you can achieve in the present age.
This summer, I ran a 2:01 half to conclude a Half Ironman after the 1.2 mile swim and 56-mile bike segments. That’s progress of a sort.
So I’ve come a ways too. I’ll never run a 1:10 half marathon as I once did, but that would be an unrealistic expectation after four decades of running!
Recently, I also had the chance to work with a 60s-ish friend seeking to break 2:00 in the half-marathon. After a couple consultations he followed the pace plan we mapped out and cranked out a 1:51. He has his eye on even faster times.
This is all part of the fun of achieving progress at any age. Surely it is remarkable to coach young athletes setting PRs as they develop. It is just as satisfying helping people look at themselves through new eyes in endurance sports. Setting goals and making them happen is satisfying at any age. When you think about it, every race or great workout you do is one for the ages.
If you have questions about hitting your objectives, shoot them my way. We’re all in this together!