Sunday, March 05, 2006

Just a nice 10k!

They call it the Northeast Road Runners Winter 10k, and today the weather was, in fact, on the wintry side--hefty headwind and temps in the 30s--but the beautiful clear sky and sun gave promise of spring.

This race pretty much also opens the spring racing season in Philadelphia, so it's a favorite of mine--a chance to touch base with old friends and run on a flat, scenic out-and-back course... with a headwind on the way out... did I mention that? :)

My goal today was to beat or at least run my age in minutes, but ... well, instead I ran next year's age in minutes... 56:14.

But there were a lot of positives:

--The headwind during the first half became a tail wind in the second half!
--I beat my time in Brian's Run
--I was healthy (last year, I had to miss the race because of illness)
--I set a better pace in this 10k than I'd done in the first couple of 5k's last year.
--And I even won an award in my age group.... second place for women 50-59. And yes, there were more than two women in this age group! ;) (But I don't know if there were more than three... results not yet up on the web site... Never mind, though... we three showed up to run!)

Sometimes the quality of the experience defies the numbers... the friends, the sunlight on the water, the rowers, the pair of birds soaring in tandem over the bike path, the sheer blessing of health and the ability to run races at 55... Enroute back, I passed a man coming the opposite direction... with a cane... and one leg.... and I realized just how lucky I was to be running this race. But it would be unfair to that man to stop with that realization. When I think of it, what a hardy soul he was to be out for a walk on such a chilly day... and rather than assume that he was unhappy, as he might have had a right to be, with his condition, I wonder if he too was focusing on the beauty of the day and his good fortune to be out and about.

It was a good beginning to the racing season... but it was more than that. As Vietnamese poet and philosopher Thich Nhat Hanh reminded me this morning on the NPR program, "Speaking of Faith,"* we need to cherish the present, in and of itself, that in the present, there is value. In this race at this time, regardless of results or experiences before and after, there is value.

* Anyone who'd like to listen to the program can click on the following link: You're in for a treat!

Well, since I left you all hanging... = my Philly Marathon

Seems only fair to let you know what happened!

Since that marathon, so busy, haven't had much time to come back to here... so by way of catching up...

After the marathon, I did a couple more races... Brian's Run in West Chester... a 10k I enjoy and in which for the first time ever, I won an award! I've actually had faster times in this race, but finally, this time, being in the 55-50 age group seems to have helped... and I wasn't too unhappy with the time so soon after a marathon either!

My other December race was a 5k in which I won my age group... and again was happy w/ my time... and with being able to run with no pain. Seemed as if the knee problem mentioned in the article was temporary!

Small track meet in early January, with unremarkable times in the mile and the 3k... didn't help that I'd taken a fall that twisted my back... fortunately recovered from that and today plan to run a 10k.

Also got into another masters' swim group. This one is not as close to where I live but due to other commitments, the coach of the other one has not been able to continue the workouts at my nearby Y. However, the group I'm in has been terrific in helping me get back into good swimming shape and has been a factor in helping me recover from that fall!

And just a reflection about yesterday's workout: A few new people joined, and so there were more people in the beginners' lane where I've been swimming. The beginner workouts are shorter than those in the other lanes, but until yesterday, I was either the only one in that lane or sharing it with one other person.

I didn't know how I'd feel about sharing it with three people, and starting off, things were a bit awkward b/c we had to do kick only on alternating lengths (with regular freestyle on alternating lengths). There were 2 200s of this, then came the regular swimming for the rest of the workout. But during the initial repeats, there were some collisions. Fortunately, we all managed to be good sports and polite about it and there were a lot of "sorry's" and "excuse me's."

After the first 200, I checked my watch and noticed that I had gone faster with the kick laps than I had when I did regular 200s on my own, so I wondered if I'd lost count. Did an extra 50 just to be safe. Then, later, after one of the 100s, I noticed again a much faster time than usual. This time I knew I hadn't lost count, but how could it be that I'd gone so much faster? (Granted, still not very fast by Real Swimmer standards, but faster than I'd ever gone in practice--in either masters' group!)

I thought it out later, and decided there were several factors involved:

--new swimsuit...don't laugh... less drag and a psychological lift
--my focus had changed from trying to get across the pool fast to trying to "harmonize" with the others in the lane. I didn't even feel as if I was swimming that fast so was very surprised by the times.

Lesson learned: getting out of the "comfort zone" of having a lane to myself or almost to myself, which at first felt awkward, created an opportunity. I'm trying to take that into my life too: be patient with the situation, "go with the flow" and sometimes things work out (or in this case, I worked out) better than expected.

Okay, gotta get ready to go...

Hope I come back sooner than five months!