Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Why Did I Ever Race The Clock?

Day 50 -- Sept. 25, 2012

Today I'm 193.2 pounds of rolling thunder.

It's been a while since I raced the clock. Quite a while in fact.

One of the nice things about being the world's slowest human is never having to punch the clock.

But every once in a while I indulge my vanity and try a little test of speed. And just as often I get a punch to the gut that tells me that I'm not fooling anyone.

Nevertheless I've been running well lately with few if any breaks to walk, so I thought I'd test my mettle with a 3-mile timed run. I have a 3-mile route that is a mixture of stop lights and small hills, so timing is everything if you want to keep momentum going.

I warmed up by jogging up the hill near my house. It's a half-mile stretch that tells me where I'm at for the day. Run all the way up, and it's going to be a good day. Run/walk/run and it's OK. Run and then walk, and you're asking for trouble.

But part of the reason I start on top of the hill is to give myself a rolling start. I know downhills are tougher on ankles, knees and other joints, but so far it hasn't been an issue.

So I jogged to the top of the hill and took it as an omen that it was going to be a good day out on the road. I stopped at the corner to stretch and loosen my muscles, which, by the way, are genetically hard-wired to be tight as piano wire.

It was a mild yet humid day, so sweat came easy as I punched my wrist watch and started down the mile-long descent to the first turn. And even though you say time doesn't matter, just once it would be nice to look down at the half-mile or mile marker and be surprised by the number staring back at you.

There was no surprise at the half-mile mark. The number on my watch was large and getting larger.

I made the mile turn in a time that could as easily have been measured on a sun dial as on a digital wrist watch. Ouch! But I was still running. No walks.

I rounded the corner and began the second mile, which is filled with rolling hills and a single stop light. A long stop light, but the only one along the way. Catch it just right and you can maintain momentum from the hill you're on as you ascend the next one. Miss it, and it's a long wait for green.

I figured I'd be OK if I was only a minute slower in the second mile -- not proud, but OK. So moral victory No. 2 was making the second mile with all its hills without walking and only a minute slower than the downhill mile at the start of the run.

I turned the corner and headed for home. A half-mile downhill followed by a long flat (with two lights) and then a gradual ascent to the finish. I saw a walker in the distance so I pushed to try and catch her. I made the stop light and passed the walker on the flat.

I made the second light with little delay and rolled up the final climb. My time was horrible, but I had gone the distance without a walk or much of a pause. Victory was in the doing and not in the time was my rationalization, and I'm sticking to it.

So the next time you see the world's slowest human out on the streets, give me a wave.

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