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Compartment 14B

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What do you mean, am I OK? Donít I look OK?

2004-03-09 - 2:19 p.m.

I believe Iíve mentioned that my Dad and I race against each other in the National Capital Race Weekend 10K? Weíve done so for the last 4 years and that man has always won. Every year that Iíve gotten faster to the point of beating his time from the previous year, he gets faster by just as much, if not more! After the first or second year I had a rather handsome family trophy made and it now bears 4 little plaques with my Dadís name and his winning time. Since there are over 4000 runners and it can take awhile just to get over the start line, we go by ďchipĒ time which is the time between crossing the start line and crossing the finish line, measured by a chip attached to your shoe. (Fancy, no?)

This year, however, is the year that my friend Shawn has determined that Iím going to win. Shawn is a personal trainer and his modus operandi seems to involve inflicting torture on me. Ultimately, the program heís put together for me is supposed to have me finishing in 50 minutes which means a pace of 5 minutes per kilometer. Imagine my surprise then when I pulled it out yesterday for the first day of his three-month program and he lists the goal for the day as running 6 km at a pace of 5:10 per kilometer! To put this into perspective, I did some calculations and that works out to 6 kms or 3.73 miles in 31 minutes, meaning a pace of 7.4 miles/hour for the whole 31 minutes. I can tell you right now that this is faster than Iíve ever run in my life! My previous best time for the 10k was 2 years ago and, even then, I ran it in 55 minutes.

I have decided that his figures are more of a goal than a rule (I pretty much have to or the first day would be so discouraging I might abandon it), so I ran at a 5.8 miles per hour (the fastest Iíve set the treadmill this year) for Ĺ an hour and then called it quits. Even at the slower pace than he wanted me to go, I was bright red by the time I was only halfway done. Other people glow, maybe look a little shiny. When I exert myself, I turn into a tomato. I mean, even the whites of me eyes go bloodshot. Iíve had people actually ask me if I was OK while I was running. Iíd answer with more than an indignant eye-roll and a head-bob, but Iím generally too busy wheezing (well, maybe thatís an exaggeration, I can usually gasp out an assurance). The ironic thing is, that Iíve improved a lot since our first run but the gains all seem to be in the recovery time. A couple of minutes after I stop Iím fine and breathing normally, and Iím not even really at all sore the day after the 10k. But Iíd trade that fast recovery to shave a few minutes off my time. Iíd rather be flat busted for a couple of days and hit 50 minutes, than struggle mightily for 55 but be strolling and chatting easily 10 minutes after I cross the finish line. Humph.

Actually, the whole training thing is further complicated by the fact that thereís still snow on the ground here and Iím not a fan of running in the cold or snow or rain, but the time limit on the treadmills at the gym is 30 minutes and there are usually lineups so you canít go over. Well, not unless you want to be really rude, which I do not. Iím hoping for an early spring so I can get outside as soon as possible. I even have a hill picked out that I think is suitable for fulfilling the ďhill trainingĒ portion of Shawnís diabolical training plan.

Wish me luck and Iíll keep you updated on progress.

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