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Monday, March 12, 2012

Running and aging, or don't shoot the old(er) horse

Spring is in the air. Kinda. And it could only mean one thing - let the season of races begin.

This past weekend I participated in the obligatory, hilly, and vomit-inducing St. Patty's Day 5K. Obligatory - because my friends and I run it every year and I feel guilty if I don't sign up (I missed last one due to post-surgery recovery), hilly - there is a big freaking hill smack middle of it to squash any hopes of PR for me, and vomit-inducing - well, it's because I run it much faster than my normal pace and inevitably end up dry heaving after.

This year, the run went pretty painfully - that hill nearly killed me and the muscles in my legs are still complaining pretty loudly two days later (I think going line-dancing that night didn't particularly help matters). The race was PACKED. I don't remember it being that crowded. 1358 people!! Wow. The course is really not designed for this number and the beginning was a huge clusterfuck (yes, it's my blog and I can curse if I choose to!): the road was so packed you couldn't even pass people, let along get up to speed quickly. Add wind and cold weather to that, and I was fucked. The crowd dispersed eventually and I was able to fall into my stride without risking tripping on someone and going ass over teakettle.

Every time I race, the first 5 minutes are spent silently asking myself "why?", as my body groans and moans. Once I get going it's all good, but the starting point is usually rough. This year was not an exception, and my shin was hurting pretty bad too. I didn't have as much momentum as I hoped for, but I beat my first post-baby 5K time by about a minute. So we are improving, but  in 2008, I ran the same race and finished with 7.5 minute mile pace. Four years added about 40 seconds to that.

This year's ego boost was me  beating a 13-year old boy to the finish line. Yes, yes, I did. And it made me happy. Because, you know, nothing says "I'm soo-o cool" more than passing teenage boys in a family-friendly race...Hey, at least I didn't elbow him.

As I get older, I'm noticing a definite shift toward slower pace, but my endurance is much-much higher than 4 years ago. 5Ks are the domain of younger people, in my opinion. I'll stick to 10Ks and half-marathons. This year, my goal is to finish 13.1 miles in May under 2 hours. Last year I finished in 2 hours 2 minutes, so I think shaving off about 2 minutes off of my time is doable. :)

The day was finished by watching a parade, cooking and then going out zaiki-free to line dance to Colorado Cafe, where I indulged myself by drinking club soda with lime and imagining I was a cowboy while trying not to trip on my own feet. Yee-ha. There's another sign of aging: I did not ride the mechanical bull at the joint unlike 4 years ago, when I'd be first in line. :)

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