With less than 11 weeks before the big race I am feeling like my body is starting to get stronger. This doesn't mean that the race won't be one of the worst experiences of my life, it just means that I think I am starting to turn the corner.
For the longest time this winter I have just felt like I have been in the doldrums. I haven't been able to get into a rhythm, parts of my were breaking down and when combined with my mental issues (December and January my head just wasn't in the game at all) those bad months had resulted in my training lagging behind where it should be for such an event as the Vikingman.
Today was my day with the boys and we had lots of fun while the wife worked. Normally, on Mondays I go to the rec center and drop the boys off in the daycare there. But because it is spring break there is no daycare this week. This kind of threw me off a bit, but the wife was willing to let me go when she got off work.
I ran on the treadmill for 70 minutes. About 25 minutes into the workout a friend from church came in and starting running next to me. He is training for a half marathon the weekend after Vikingman. [I wish that is all I was training for.] He starts up right off the bat at 7.2 mph. Damn, he must be in pretty good shape I am thinking. He doesn't have a HRM, so I have no idea what his heart rate is, but after about 20 minutes his body language is not a smooth as it was when he started. I am just keeping my HR around the low 150's with an occasional hop up to 160 just for kicks and then back down to the upper 140's to low 150's again. This goes on until I hit 55 minutes, when I am still feeling pretty good, but my pace has only been 5.5 to 6.0 most of the time to keep my heart rate where I want it. Dude next to me, his name is Mike by the way, is pumping it up to 7.5 now and he has been running for 30 minutes. I had thought that he would back it down a notch after a bit because he hasn't been training for very long and I didn't think he was this type of runner. However, I am thinking that I was wrong about him. I am feeling a bit like a weenie here doing my heart rate training stuff. While he is thinner than I, I have been training for longer. And I am in my uber-competitive mood at that point. So what to do....
I kick it up to 8.0 mph and turn the iPod on to something that will get me going. Oh yeah, I am flying...or at least it seems that way to me after running over 2 mph slower for almost an hour. I can see both of our reflections in the windows in front of us. I work on keeping my form looking good and not like Magilla Gorilla. Compared to Mike, I think I am looking a little smoother--but that might have just been me in my workout haze instead of reality. I ran at 8 mph for almost a mile. Then I backed it down so that I could have time to cool down properly by the 70 minute mark. My HR got up to 185 at the very end, which is my max according to my rough calculations.
We both finished at nearly the same time. Although he had run at a faster pace during his run on average, I felt like I had done well enough. I ran 2 miles further and ran my fastest at the very end. I really should not have cared what he was running, but I have this competitive problem at times. If I have no shot at competing with someone, I don't care what they do, but if for some reason I think I should be in the same fitness category as some particular friend or associate I have to start a pissing match. Or at least one is going on in my head, not verbally.
I do this every time I go out to Utah to see Fish. I love going out there, but I have to get a little competitive with Fish. It only takes one ride usually--sort of a heat check to see who is going to rule the roost that weekend. DTP is always there too, but he is content to wallow in the back for some reason. One year Fish was en fuego, we could not touch him (I remember him listening to the Shins on his iPod riding up the road to Benny Creek like it was nothing while I was near my limit on my singlespeed try to stay at his pace), but the last couple years I have felt pretty good, or good enough anyway. I don't brag about beating Fish if I do, although I am sometimes merciless with DTP. It is important to me to have a good showing when Fish is around for some reason.
After thinking on this for a bit, I think that with Fish, I goes back to when he rode with me when I was fat and horribly out of shape some years back. I mean I was on the road to an early death. I hadn't done much of anything in 4 or 5 years. I hadn't touched a bike in 3. Regardless, he stayed with on numerous rides and never, ever, gave me a hard time about being so damn slow. I owe him a lot. Nevertheless, it was a goal to actually be able to ride as fast as Fish in those days, and then to ride faster than Fish. I felt that if I could do so then I was probably doing OK physically, and getting healthier. I remember like it was yesterday the time that we were going up near Timpanogos Caves that he asked me what the hell I was doing setting a pace like that when I was at the front. My inner self was beaming, it was the first time that had happened on the road. He had owned me on when riding on the road up to that point. I think it was probably sort of like when a kid finally can outrun is father or something. I know, that is weird, but it is probably true.
So it is that I like to do these occasional heat checks, to see who is going to lead the pack that day. Admittedly, most of the time, I am off the back when riding with people of modest ability around here. Nevertheless, it is fun. I don't ever wish rub it in and make someone uncomfortable riding with me, and if I have, well, I am sorry. Except for DTP though. I mean to make him uncomfortable, mainly because I think he likes it that way.