Saturday, August 9, 2014

"Let's race!"

Training for the Ventura Marathon has been, in a word: fun. (And as I write this, I am sitting with my feet on ice, recovering from this morning's hot and very challenging 20-mile long run. So if even in this moment I think it's fun, you know I mean it.) I've got four more weeks to go, and am so grateful for the twelve weeks of good health and strong running that I've been granted thus far. Work and life circumstances have lined up the right way for me for the first time in a long time, making a proper 6 day per week training schedule somewhat manageable, and I'm sleeping as soundly these days as my lazy old dog. Sure, I still have mornings when I need to get up in the dark in order to fit in a workout, and days that I'm stiff and uncomfortable from the rigors of training. And my Friday nights these days usually consist of little more than dinner and putting myself to bed early. (Oh wait, sometimes I also do laundry, so that I'll have clean running clothes to wear on Saturday mornings.) But on the whole, feeling well has enabled me to get so much more out of training than just good paces and high hopes for my September race. I'm also having a lot of fun out there. I had the novel experience this week of looking at my schedule and seeing the prescribed pace for my Tuesday tempo run, and feeling excited to get out there and run hard, rather than the usual feelings of dread and inadequacy that tempo runs usually incite.

Mission Beach: a favorite local route.
I recently ran "doubles" for the first time in years. The way that my work and marathon training schedules piled up that week, the only way I was going to get in the mileage I needed (while also getting enough sleep) was to run four miles of hill repeats on that Wednesday morning, and then lace up again in the evening for another six miles after work. I didn't know how it was going to go, and wasn't feeling terribly confident about that second run, especially since it happened to be an unusually hot and humid monsoonal day in San Diego. So to maximize the chances that I would enjoy myself, I decided to drive out to one of my favorite local spots, the boardwalk on Mission Bay.

This time of year, the houses along the boardwalk are mostly occupied by vacationing families who've rented them out, and it's teeming with tourists. Since it was such a hot day, there were people everywhere, coming in and out of the water, even though the sun was almost down. And kids. Lots and lots of kids. Somewhere around four miles into my run, I was feeling better than I'd expected to, but was definitely tired, when a boy jumped out onto the boardwalk from the sand and yelled out "Let's race!" If I'd had time to give a reasoned response, the sensible and boring part of me might have thought "No, I have already worked out hard once today, this is supposed to be a relaxed run." But lucky for me, he didn't give me a chance to put that sensible and boring part of my brain to use - he just started running, and I automatically gave chase. Even though I caught up to the little guy quickly and could definitely have outrun him (and even though he was a total cheater, and wouldn't tell me where the finish line was going to be!), I stayed just a pace or two behind him, and pretended to struggle. Eventually he declared himself the winner, we slapped some high-fives, and I kept on running up the boardwalk while he returned back to his family. Definitely some of the most fun I've had at a race yet. I hope Ventura can compete.

Kids are a great reminder that running comes
naturally to we human-types. And that it's fun!


  1. That's awesome. I am sure that racing the kid was a perfect distraction for even just a few minutes.

    1. Exactly! In that moment, I totally forgot that I was already exhausted. Kids are great that way. :)