Since the 2018 NYC marathon, besides enjoying not having to train for a marathon, I've been evaluating what I want to get from running as I head for the back half of my 50s. I came to running late, but I've been at it now for 12 years or so, and I would like to keep at it for as long as possible, even as PRs feel more distant and I can practically sense my speed slipping away with every run. These thoughts, as well as worries about aging parents and my oldest child's college preparations, made 2019 an off-and-on year for running. I ran one race, and other than that, the highlight of the running year was a post-race meal in Asbury Park with some loopsters after they ran the NJ half marathon/marathon in April. In November, after a year of JFR, I decided that in 2020, I was going to run a race every month. Here's how it's gone so far.
The Central Jersey Road Runners' Hangover 5K in Westfield, NJ. 25:27 (gun-time only). I've run this race a few times, with temperatures at noon ranging from 17 degrees to near 60 degrees. This year, it was high 40s and windy. My 5k PR was set in this race in 2012 (22:40-ish). I was hoping to go sub-25, as a way to start the year strong, and I had about 6 weeks of uninterrupted training coming in, but like a fool, I lined up where the directors wanted the 8 minute milers to line up, which meant I was behind a lot of 10-12 m/m resolution runners that I had to get around at the start. My Garmin showed my time as 25:02, with the first mile split 8:20, followed by 8:08 and 7:44. I crossed the finish line and just kept going to my car. As I drove away down the street which shared part of the route, I passed a number of people who were still running. I got home, cleaned up, and promptly came down with a cough and a fever.
Mike's Seafood Polar Bear Run/Walk for Autism in Sea Isle City, NJ. 25:47. It's hard to find races in NJ in February. Other than a weekly timed 5k in a park about 30 minutes from my home, the only race near me was a Valentine's themed race that requires runners to ask for sponsors. On Super Bowl Sunday, my sister-in-law, who is also a runner, told me about a 5K race on the Sea Isle promenade that she and my nephew have run. Her husband's family have a shore house that's a 10-minute walk from the starting line, and there was a room available for us, so down the shore we headed for President's Day weekend. That January illness and some iffy weather had made a mess of my running schedule, and 10 days had passed since I had last been able to get out the door, so I had no idea what to expect from this race. My honest guess was I would be lucky to run at 8:30 pace. But for a race in the middle of February, the weather was kind. Temps were pushing into the 50s, with some high cloud cover, when the day before, at the annual Sea Isle polar bear plunge into the Atlantic, the temperature had been below freezing. I ran 8:19 pace, which I'll take, but I hope this isn't a trend for the rest of the year. I would like to improve my times, and not get slower with each month. Maybe get to sub-24 before the year ends. My brother-in-law joked that I was running on a strange course. No home field advantage. But races by the ocean, even in February, are hard to beat. Plus, after the race, when I was walking to meet my family, I unexpectedly crossed paths with ocrunnergirl.
As with the Hangover Run, I negative split like crazy (8:38, 8:20, 8:06). I'm not happy with these 40-second swings between my first and last miles. My first miles need to be faster, and the following miles need to be more consistent. My nephew finished the race 3rd overall in 17:44, and he didn't run negative splits, but his splits fell within a 5-second range of one another.
Tales too short for bloops
- In the winter, I run in the dark, and one of my regular routes passes a house where a resident has set up a stationary bike in a 2nd-floor room between a lamp and a window shade. This person is often on the bike when I run past the house, and it creates a silhouette that, when I first saw it and didn't know what it was, made me feel a little dirty.
- I provided some pre-dawn slapstick entertainment for a driver at a traffic light a few weeks ago, when I was crossing the street and was so busy looking around for cars that I didn't see an orange mesh barrier stretched across the sidewalk in front of me. It caught me waist-high and I went ass-over-tea kettle, head down, feet up, over the barrier, and knocked the whole thing down. Only my pride was hurt. And honestly, if I were that driver, I would have laughed at me. Loud.
- I went to the Millrose Games a few Saturdays ago. I started going to this meet in 2018 with my brother-in-law and fast nephew, and it's a great event for watching world-class runners up close, as well as some up-and-coming high school and college runners. We weren't sure what this year would be like with athletes gearing up for Tokyo, but we saw Ajee Wilson and Donovan Brazier set indoor 800m American records, and if you haven't seen Elle Purrier's record-setting Women's Wanamaker Mile, I can recommend it. If you watch the video and know where to pause it, you can see me. I'm the blurry looking thing with gray hair.
Be healthy. Be safe.