For The Love of God, Go Faster!!

Someone got stabbed over a chicken sandwich last night. Not just any chicken sandwich, but a Popeye’s chicken sandwich. (That means something to some people apparently). The person cut in the line at the register, an argument ensued, out came a knife, and it wasn’t for the sandwich.

The cutter got cutted and died. (Poetic license, but all true).

So that’s how I started my day. With the news.

I know, I know! Don’t watch the news then!

In my defense, I didn’t turn the TV on this morning. Today was just one of those days when Russ did, which isn’t every day, and that report vomited from the screen all over my senses before my first slurp of coffee.

Now for the real story….

These days, “No Stirrup November” has turned into “No Run November” for me. I ran my last race this past weekend (sounds like I’ve raced a lot when I say it, but I only eeked out two this year and they were a month apart).

I managed to shave 22-seconds off of my mile, and at twice the distance. While that sounds like “hard work and perseverance paid off,” I think it had more to do with not pre-race prepping with two margaritas the night before. There was also the lack of a monster hill in my second race, even though when I turned around at the halfway point, the wind hit me hard off of the Potomac and it never let up. It was like being stuck in a wind tunnel the whole run home.

Once again, I pulled up at the finish like a fish tossed onto the beach, viciously gulping for air, but with no real luck. That’s how you know you’ve worked hard—when you can’t swallow for fear of choking on your sticky wads of spit and you wheeze uncontrollably instead of … well … just breathing.

Despite all of the self-induced pain, my favorite part of racing is passing the people I’ve stalked throughout the race. I pick targets as mini goal-posts within the race. It takes my mind off the tedious task and focuses my attention on something else. I pick a “pacer”, keep up with them, and when they start to show signs of weakness and begin to hit the wall, I pass them and pick someone else to keep pace with.

However, it’s not unlike passing someone on the interstate in a car. When I start to pass my pacer, I’m always amazed how they suddenly pick up the speed. I always think, “Well, if you could have been going that fast the whole time, why weren’t you?”

Seriously, who hasn’t experienced this phenomenon driving down a highway??

Who hasn’t thought, “You’re going to go fast… NOW??”

I think drivers don’t do this on purpose. It just sort of happens, like some basic human instinct kicks in. The one that tells you, “Don’t let them ‘beat’ you. You can go just as fast as they can and get there sooner. Before them. Wherever it is they’re going…”

So a car speeds up, and you find yourself going ten miles an hour faster than you want, and they’re now going fifteen miles an hour faster than they were before. The other driver does this until he or she finally looks down at the speedometer, and sheepishly takes their foot off the gas pedal, aghast at their secret recklessness that brimmed over the sides before they knew it.

(They think, “I never drive this fast. What am I doing?? Holy hell…”)

My strategy for racing well isn’t super sophisticated.

This is it:

Start out going faster than is comfortable for the first half of the race, and then go as fast as you can for the last half.

Yep, that’s pretty much it. It’s not rocket science.  But we’ve all experienced the situation, both racers and drivers alike, when you pull out from behind to go around and suddenly the other person speeds up.

When this happens in a race, I just wait it out, because I know this is not something they can sustain.

Then I pass them.

This makes me sound like a good runner, but I’m not. I’m nothing more than a desperate amateur with decaying knees, trying to beat the clock, not unlike the die-hard Eventer attempting to scrape up a few extra points in the dressage test on their egg-beater trotting, fastidious-galloping Eventing machine.

If you’ve Evented long enough, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Every pacer I pick off feels like a small victory. It’s a cheap bolster for my wavering confidence while out there sucking on my lungs and burning my quads to a crisp.

Whatever works, right?

It had been a year since I raced, and it was 18-months before that. Once I got started running again after surgery this summer, I didn’t want to stop. But like the old campaigner pulled out of the barn to go win the short-format invitational with a lot of prize money offered, it’s time to rehab…err…cross train back at the barn. I know enough now to know, if I don’t break up the running with other things, I will be sidelined, and at this stage of the game, a sideline might morph into a career-ending move. Taking a break from running to do other things will make my body stronger and more elastic… and will only make my running better and last longer!

That’s the honest answer.

So here we go. I’m hanging up my stirrups…err…running shoes for the next month.

No Running November.

The day after my race, off to yoga I went. I do a little bit of yoga on my own all of the time, but lately it has evolved into more of “intentional stretching” than anything else.

(See above: Love. To. Run.)

Let’s face it. The scenery is way better, and so are the endorphins when running. I mean, who wants to look at a little rectangular mat for an hour, and worse, not leave it??

(I know, I know, this is where my friends tell me I need more yoga in my life…because obviously I have not benefited from the biggest aspect of yoga a.k.a. ‘The Om.”)

So off to the studio I went. And today I woke up luxuriously sore all over. (After the news this morning, it was like the pleasant injury added to the ugly insult). Later there will be no luxury to the soreness, I will just be plain sore, but right now… it’s. totally. awesome.

I went back again this morning, and tomorrow, I will head into the “Sculpt” class. It is like Barre, Pilates, and Yoga, on speed dial, in the Bahamas, rolled into one. Not unlike all of “Corporate Yoga” these days, this class moves at lightning speed. I often find when I’m supposed to be up, I’m down; when I’m supposed to be down, I’m up; and when I’m supposed to be on the right side, I’m on the left side and vice-versa.

I consider this hybrid–yoga plus “working out” blended together–has as much quality as an all-purpose saddle. You can accomplish some stuff in this shitty, no-purpose saddle, but you pay a price for it.

I find it hilarious we heat up the room exorbitantly (so you don’t even have to work hard enough to create your own body heat anymore) and speed it up exponentially (so you can spend half the time for all of the burn, theoretically).

Yes, I am the hypocrite who ridicules, yet attends, these “Corporate Yoga” classes, because it’s what I’ve got available. Trying to cross-train on my own is a bit like riding your horse on your own. You feel like you’re pretty fucking good at what you’re doing, until you show up for a lesson. That’s when the trainer tells you what you’re doing is not actually a leg-yield at all. You are going sideways on four tracks, which is a non-movement, or a movement with no name at least, and with no integrity or benefit whatsoever. (Like an all-purpose saddle. Just saying.)

The bottom line is you’re doing it all wrong and it really comes across as half-assing it.

So yeah, I’m trying to avoid that, and off to the speed-round of exercising in the Mediterranean I go.

Besides not being able to keep up, face the correct direction, or resemble any of the exercises/positions other people are doing, the other thing I’ve noticed in DC is that no one my age goes to these classes. They’re about half my age (minus the one really old dude in class who I’m pretty sure is homeless).

In fact, they could be my children….

(And just like that, I see a knife fight about a chicken sandwich. The world is craaazzzyyy…)

I’ve often wondered, where exactly do people my age live in DC and do they exercise??

Oh, that’s right.

I see them out running.

I think they must run from the suburbs to The Mall, and back again.

Suburban Interlopers.

And just like that, I can’t wait until December, when I rejoin my tribe out on the pavement, huffing and puffing, and shuffling along.

In the meantime, more Greek yogurt and less Margaritas.


And a lot more Ommmm….



2 thoughts on “For The Love of God, Go Faster!!

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