I shoveled what's left of my carcase into some running clothes and shuffled out the door toward the lake. The neighbors gave me a look like they were spotting the first robin of the season, then a little wave.
I paused, wondering if I was ready. I moved my toes around in my shoes to see if anything hurt and decided it was time. With the very first step, a tightness in my left hip told me it'd been a long time since this creaky old bag of bones had moved faster than a walk.
There were a ton of people taking advantage of the unusually warm weather, especially as it was spring break for a lot of kids. Weaving through strollers and dog leashes, I came across an old acquaintance. "Ooh, now THERE's some speed!" he said, sarcastically. I wanted to stop and beat him to death, but channeled the anger into trying to run instead.
A pretty Hmong girl came flying by, running fast in the other direction and I found myself thinking about how slow I was moving. 1.75 miles later, I saw her again and was startled when she said, "Wow. You're really fast!" Impressing young girls with 9 1/2 minute miles - well, it does help the ego a bit, even when recalling having run the same course at 5 1/2's when her age.
The next lap, I passed a group of walkers for the second time and was asked, "How many loops are you doing?" I answered: three. Then I decided I'd better not quit at two and make myself a liar. "You're a man on a mission!" Okay; they don't know the record - my record - is 21 laps. I need to recall that, for most people, 9 miles is unimaginable.
It was unimaginable for me, too, last week.
The retirement plan
I do think I'm done racing, though. To get into reasonable shape and stay there, my hope is to run as follows:
Monday 3 miles
At my current speed, that's fair training for about a 48 minute 10K. If by some chance I improve to running at about 7:45/mile, that'd be good for a 5K in 18-18:30 and I might think about a low-key race someday. If some miracle gets me to 6:30-6:45 pace, then I'll be looking at state age class records for 1 mile again.
Three of the Loveliest Words...
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