Thursday, January 8, 2015

Speed and Control

I'm a control freak. This comes as no surprise to those who know me or those who have read this blog with any sort of regularity. It's difficult for me when life throws curve balls and there are situations I am unable to control. I am constantly in motion, and being constantly busy makes me feel like I have everything under control. Control, of course, is an illusion, but I like to at least pretend.

Running is one thing that I can control (injuries aside). When I am running I feel like all is right with the world. Even with unpredictable elements like the weather running itself is certain.  My body gets into a running rhythm that is predictable. My mind gets into the running groove that allows me to zone out and work through the thoughts running through my head.  The wind rushes past my ears, and I am in my element. Even on days where my feet are soaked from running on slushy sidewalks or in a torrential downpour I feel like I'm in control.

Mario Andretti once said, "If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough."  This quote, coupled with a Runner's World piece titled "10 Reasons the 5k is Freaking Awesome" by professional runner Lauren Fleshman, got me thinking about speed and control. When I started running nine years ago I immediately jumped into distance. That's what you do as an adult, right? I knew I would never be competitively fast, so I went for distance. Running a 5k? Good for you. Running a half marathon or longer? You're a bad ass.

Don't get me wrong - I love the half marathon. The half marathon is my jam. I could live without the marathon, and after New York this year I swear I'm done with them. Last year, however, I didn't get to race as much as I usually do. But I was fast. I was fast for me, but I was placing and winning my age group. I was fast for most regular people it turns out. I'll never qualify for the Olympics, but I can push myself to run a pretty fast 5k or 10k. The surprise is that the speed made me feel even more accomplished than the distance.

I've run 3 marathons. (I count 3 even though the Green Bay Marathon was canceled after I had run 15 miles. The training counts!) I've run 14 half marathons, a half a dozen 10-milers (also a kick ass distance) and countless 5k and 10k races. I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in 2013, and the last six miles were a brutal mess. I walked more than I ran. My knee felt like it was on fire. It wasn't fun. Marathons are hard on every body, but as a Crohn's sufferer and skinny person they do a number on my GI system. I have zero appetite which is a bit of an issue when you've just finished running for more than five hours. My legs were so tired that I fell down stairs at a restaurant on King Street in Old Town Alexandria, VA the evening of the race. The only really good thing about running a marathon is saying you've done it. There's nothing about it that physically feels good.

Last year I shattered my 26:00 minute 5k PR by running 23:55. It felt incredible. I won my age group. I felt like I could conquer the world. I didn't run 26.2 miles, but it felt even better. It felt competitive even though I was only competing with myself.

I want to run several half marathons a year, but this year I will join Lauren Fleshman's 5k revolution. I will be in control, and I will be fast. My goal is to break 21 minutes in the 5k, and it's going to be hard. I won't be doing 10 mile long runs (at least not until later in the year when I start training for New York), but my training will be focused and fast. In 2015 I will own the 5k. Let's do this!       

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