Friday, July 10, 2015

Real Men Blow Chunks

Last week the running club I belong to (The Gate City Striders) held it annual "Ultimate Runner Workout". The "URW" typically occurs during a break between the two halves of our track season and consists of 4 distances (400, 800, 1 mile & 2mile). Each participant runs these back to back with about 6-8 minutes rest in between. It's sort of like "Survivor" for runners. And, the key to success is to not run any one of the four "all out" since the competition is age-graded and each distance is worth 25% of your total score. Of course, in my case, knowing the key and using the key are two very different things!

The first event was the 400. And, to say I was psyched up wouldn't even begin to describe what I was feeling. I used to run track in high school, and since I was the slowest runner on my team, track meets were not my favorite places to be. Being lapped repeatedly in the mile will do that to a person. However, we were 20 years removed from that time & place. And, this was my first track meet since I graduated. Let's just say I was slightly eager for a bit of personal redemption.

So, the race starts and I bolt to the front. Up on my toes and leaning into the first turn. Down the back stretch I feel like I'm flying. This is why I run. This feeling right now. I take the far turn and I can't hear anyone behind me. In fact I can't hear anything at all. I'm all alone. I start down the front stretch and I can just make out the clock at the finish. 45 ... 46 ... 47. My legs are starting to get heavy as I race toward the line. It is at this point that I start to feel like I'm floating above the track watching the race unfold before me. The clock gets blurry as I get closer. What does it say?!?! I dig down for one more moment and then it's all over. I collapse on the curve and look down at my watch. 1:00.9 - a personal best 400 by 5 seconds. So much for not going all out.

Five minutes later they announce it's time for the 800. What?!?! My heart rate isn't even close to normal levels. It feels like I'm still running, for crying out loud! So I reluctantly amble up to the line. And, as the race starts I think to myself, "this is going to be a long night".

I survived the 800 in 2:31. And, started to feel a little more like myself during the mile which I finished in 5:32. For the two mile I chased the lead runner as hard as I could but never closed the gap. My time of 12:03 would have easily surpassed my best high school mark. But, as I crossed the line, all I could think about was lying down. I got to the infield and proceeded to get violently ill. Oh yeah. I remember this feeling. This sucks.

After I recovered, I sat back (in a different spot) and reflected on my evening. One first, two seconds, a third and one exorcism. Not bad for a nights work. As I staggered back to my car preparing to head on home, I thanked God that this "Ultimate Runner Workout" was finally over.

I can't wait until the next one!

Postscript: This story first appeared in my "pre-blog" blog called Mine Falls Milers and I'm re-publishing it now because this week was Ultimate Runner Night at GCS.

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