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Speedwork Pep Talk Ther ...

Posted Jun 13 2009 12:00am
Speedwork Pep Talk

There's been some e-mail traffic among the running group about doing the Canal Park Home Run Trot 5k this coming weekend. This is a huge race, benefiting a number of noble charities; such as the Juevenille Diabetes Association and backed by some pretty big sponsors. The mostly flat downtown 5K loops through, what I consider some real armpit drab Akron scenery, before ending up in Canal Park. Now, that part is cool and always gets me warm, fuzzy, and nostalgic about the Akron Road Runner Marathon, which ends in the same place. The armpit scenery loops over 3.1 miles of mostly flat road, thus, it makes it a desirable race if you're looking to run a PR.

It's part of the Subway Challenge Series, so I wouldn't expect any age group awards; at least not for me anyway--all the area Cyborg women/men run this one because of the series. Another positive feature of this race is the abundance of post-race refreshment, generously donated by the subsidiary sponsors. I recall subway sandwiches, coffee, bagels galore, etc, so that immediately post-race you can consume double and triple the calories you just burned off running the 5k.

Traditionally, this race has been plagued by grey rainy cold weather, possibly contributing to my perception of the armpit scenery. I don't think I ran this last year or the year before. My last memory of this race was a bad one, so it is surely setting my despondent tone for this post. I recall running this with my first running partner as a speed work run leading up to running the full Cleveland Marathon. I made the fatal error of foregoing my wool running socks. It was cold wet and raining. My feet remained like frozen blocks until mile 3. Then in another .1 miles, the race was over and I was disappointed with my time that turned out to be no better than my 15k to 1/2 marathon times. It was also one of the last 5k's I remember running with my first running partner. She sustained a chronic injury and has not been running for a very long time now. I harbor hope that she'll be back at it someday!

Anyway, most distance runners that I know abhor 5k's. It must be that I'm one of those people which proportionally have more slow twitch fibers; the kind distance runners have, to those speedy fast twitch fibers; the kind that sprinters have. I don't even feel right until I've been running at least five miles. 5k's remind me of noisy raucous sex that's over too soon--crossing the finish line all heaving out of breath...and disappointed. I just hate them, and wouldn't do them at all, if I had more discipline to get my butt to the track and do some speed work; yet this is torture supreme, running around a track like a gerbil. Some of the guy's in my trail group just love doing the gerbil thing, but it bores me to death. Getting faster is not my main objective for racing, but I do like to maintain my speed over the years, or make small incremental increases. The only way to do that is by running fast once in awhile--at least once a week.

When I first started running, I was confounded by all the technical terms to describe really fast running; running where your lungs want to explode and you can absolutely not talk; intermediate running; where you can run at a speed and hold a conversation, or slow running; the kind of slow steady running you can maintain for long periods of time. Runner's World threw around terms like: VO2 max, lactic acid threshold, and other such nonsense. I never liked making my running scientific, but I did my best to make sense of it to be "in" on the language of the sport. 8, 9, and 10 are my current numbers. I can run a 5k around an 8 minute pace (lungs busting), I can now run a 10k through a 15K at a nine minute pace, and I hope to run this year's marathon at a 10 minute pace. My long term goal, then, is to slowly extend my 9 minute pace to the marathon distance. In the interim, I hope to have many long runs filled with conversation, friendship, good health, shared respect for this sport and just a minimal amount of time spent on times and numbers.
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