Friday, December 19, 2008

thoughts on the eve of the “christmas mile”

tomorrow is the “christmas mile”. i have had this event on my calendar for a couple of months. in my youth, the mile was my main racing event. i clocked a 5:45 as an eleven-year-old fifth grader at our school district’s regional track and field day. this performance earned me the nickname “bruce” from some of the sixth graders at my school (think: bruce jenner). i hated the nickname, and didn’t have the discernment at that age to know that it was a compliment.

during my junior and senior year of high school, i had a solid grasp on my mile race strategy. at our state qualifying regional meet, i would run the first two laps in 70 seconds and then start picking off the runners who had gone out too hard during the first half mile. both years i finished one position out of qualifying for the state meet. the two runners who finished just ahead of me my senior year, went on to take first and second at the state meet. a consolation highlight for me was having the fifth fastest time amongst all minnesota high schoolers in 1990: 4:23.8.

i am not even close to being able to run a mile as quick as i did when i was in high school. i am ninety days into my return to running. my body is really shaping up, and i am often filled with hope that i have the potential to get close to where i use to be somewhere down the line. but at this point, i am still a very big man. i am no longer at the top of the clydesdale running division weight, but i am still weighing in at mid clydesdale weight.

my speed work has convinced me that i might be able to get close to a six minute mile tomorrow. in my youth i would often day dream of participating in a one mile road race, so tomorrow i will get to fulfill that dream, as this is my first time participating in this kind of event. i have driven the race course and walked the race course. i know roughly where the quarter mile locations are. i intend to employ a strategy similar to my high school strategy. i intend to run the first half mile around a 6:15 – 6:10 pace, and then start picking up the pace all the way into the finish.

here is a related thought i had today regarding racing events: racing events are celebrations of preparation. in my opinion, authentic racing does include discomfort. i was reminded of this at the “turkey trot 5k”. when a runner gives a 100% in a race, there is a good measure of pleasure in experiencing the body perform, and to me that helps put the presence of some discomfort into its proper context.

so i am feeling ready for tomorrow. i am ready to celebrate the preparation i have participated in for the last ninety days. i am ready to face a small measure of discomfort and a big measure of physical performance pleasure. I AM READY TO FLY!
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