Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I still have a full deck; I just shuffle slower now.

I have no idea who said it, but for the sake of my blog I'll take credit.

Could it be that I am - gasp! - getting slower?

Let's all think back to 2009 when I was training for Nike with Babs and Elkin at my sides. Think about it. Think.

Or just click on the links to the left that take you there.

I was all hopped up on a steady stream of first marathon juice. I felt lean, mean and fast. I did a fair amount of boasting about times and pace. We did our first mile test and I clocked a sub-7 minute pace. I.Was.On.Fire.

(We'll skip over the whole "falling apart at mile 18 of the marathon and was a lot slower than I ultimately wanted" thing. Point is, I was faster in training).

Fast forward to this summer's training. I knew Barb had been running a lot faster recently. My gazelle-like buddy had gotten speedier, which I saw Tuesday night after Tuesday night. So when it was time for the mile test again, Ramon broke us up into groups by speed. And I let Barb join the fastest group. She was the only woman in the pack, and natch, she blew the doors off them.

Ramon kind of gave me a look as I put myself into the next group. Kind of a, "come on, you can do better than that" look. But I knew the fastest group would be too much for my abilities. Regardless, I ran hard per Ramon's instructions. Hardest effort my body could handle. I ran to the point of sheer exhaustion. Yet my fastest mile? Would only be 7:20. I was completely disheartened as the two mile repeats that followed were an abomination. A much slower 7:40, then a 7:55 mile. I was beat. And really super pissed off.

So I've been trying desperately to pick apart why this has happened. Have I stopped running as hard? Did I pack on the el-bees these past few years? Did my legs get shorter? Did I stumble into some bad lighting?

No, not really, not possible and as if!

There was only one explanation. I'm 40.


Now mind you, I'm not the type to blame things on age. Listen, if they didn't want us to enjoy these years, they wouldn't make so many damned creams and potions (yay, Juviderm!) to make us look good. I also firmly believe that I am stronger now than I have ever been and will proudly challenge anyone to an arm wrestle over dinner. (What a lady).

I've never regretted turning 40 (like I could do anything about it anyhow) and other than just those few times when I told people I was really 32 - okay, maybe 31 - I've embraced middle age. ("Middle age." I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.)

Okay, so it was 29. Don't judge.

Suddenly, Barb was much more than a mere ten years younger. I thought maybe now she'd have to find faster running buddies. There's nothing I'd hate more than to think I'm holding her back; luckily, Babs and I have a standing agreement that we will leave one another in a race in order to pursue our own goals. That pretty much means I see the Back of Babs for every race. It's never bothered me that she is clearly the faster of us and that I will most likely never come in ahead of her. I just always want to make sure I'm in the ballpark. And on those mile repeats? Forget the ballpark, I suddenly wasn't in the same league.

We've started hill repeats now, which are really designed to make you stronger - and faster. I am one of the few who actually love hills, perhaps because you have a built-in excuse for going a bit slower. But after two weeks of repeats, I already feel my speed on the flats picking up just a bit. I don't think I'll speed up enough to catch Barb on Tuesday nights, but perhaps I'll get close enough to feel her draft.

To be continued.

1 comment:

  1. (a) You look way closer to 29 than you do to 40.
    (b) 7:20's...even 7:55's are CRAZY fast. I seriously wish I could still run that fast...we're working on it...maybe with more hill repeats.