And we’re back!
The Runnin’ of the Green (Island) race has a lot of meaning for us. Running it one year ago set off a quest to run at least one race a month for a year—which precipitated this little blog. This race marks the end of that year of races. (A recap of the year will come in another post.)
The weather was certainly better than last year (which was in the 30s, cloudy, and windy). This year was in the 50s, started off overcast but the sun eventually broke through making for a beautiful day. Perfect running weather. This race marks the official start of the running season in the Capital District, so the turnout was great: almost 700 runners for this little race. (I say little because Green Island itself is not that big.)
Jon-I came into this race with the assumption that a number of things had improved dramatically from last year’s run: my speed; my endurance; my ability to run, with both speed and distance, in barefoot shoes; and basically my whole concept and love of what it meant to run. This last year has yielded a wonderful change in my person, and I wanted to have physical evidence of this change by posting a better time.
My final time last year was 33:15, which is an 8:23 pace. I figured that I would try and shoot for at least a sub-7:00 minute pace, maybe even a 6:30. As the swarm of runners filed across the starting line I tried to get a clear shot around the slower runners (which always happens) and get into a comfortable rhythm. By the first mile the clock had just turned to 6:30 so I know I was on pace. From there I just tried to remember what that initial pace felt like, and then, maybe, pick it up a smidge if I could. Mile 2 showed a 12:45 time—15 seconds ahead. From there I just pushed myself around people. I thought of the words from Martin Dugard’s book To Be a Runner: (paraphrasing) You can either endure the pain of suffering or the pain of regret; one lasts only a short time, the other lasts a whole lot longer. I opted to suffer a bit.
Crossing the finish line in 25:11 I had bested last years time by 8 minutes; my pace per mile was about 2 minutes faster! That was enough to make it a great race, but two other things made the finish even more special: first, a volunteer engaged me in conversation about my “No Meat Athlete” shirt, wanting one so as to show his “meat friends” that you could run just fine (even better?) without meat. The second thing that made my finish special was getting to walk back and watch Katie finish. It has meant more than I can say (or write) to spend this last year running with her, and cheering as she crossed the finish line was a wonderful experience.
Katie- When you run gnarly technical trails, “time” stands still. “Running for a better time” is Bigfoot… a silly idea and rarely if ever seen on the trails. And so be it, being lost in the beauty of nature, without worrying about time, or a better time leaves you free to enjoy yourself, the twigs cracking, the mourning dove, the momma turkey and her two chicks dust bathing, the wonderful smell that can only be described as “the coming of spring”. Now, do I ever try to run a loop of Hard’ack or the Pine Bush Preserve faster than before… yes, it is a priority when I am out there in -all that is right with this world, lovely, perfect, beautiful nature- no.
I approach running this way now. It defines me on trails, but our last race in the year… a special race, was a road race… and boy did I want to wipe the floor with my old time of 37:11, a 9:23 pace. Last year I ran this race in Vibram KSO’s. This was my first barefoot/pavement race. I was new to my technique, new to my gate, new to my aligned posture. I was timid, making sure not to heel strike, and over analyzing every step, and freezing. This year, I can say I confidently stepped to the start. Moved my way to the middle of the starters, feeling I earned the spot at which I chose, to wait for the gun. Feeling like the runners around me matched my caliber, my dedication, my determination. I was thankful for the decent warm up, that left me feeling ready and warm to just take off on pace, what ever that was. I didn’t determine a pace before starting, opting rather to be uncalculated (unlike Jon). To move my legs, pump my arms and feel what felt fast but do-able. I felt, as I ran, that I finally hung with a pack that was my equal. And then I passed some of them, and then some more. And just when they closed in on me, a hill loomed a 1/2 mile from the end.
And this is where people lose it, unless you are a trail runner and you get beasty with hills far steeper than this on a regular basis. So, I left them in the dust, and made my move… on a hill, because I… am a trail runner. I crossed the finish line at 33:24, a 8:25 pace, just 9 seconds off Jon’s time last year.
Thank you Jonnie, for always being there to cheer me on at the end. However if we could replay this like Mario Kart, where you can show the “ghost runs” and we replayed your last year’s run, and my current run, your ghost self would cross just before me, and thats cry-worthy, because for me, that’s an unbelievable accomplishment as a runner. And besides you, I have to thank the trails. Always there to kick my ass and put me in the kind of shape that allows me to shave 4 minutes off my time.
Post Race Delicacies-After the run we made our way to Xs to Os Vegan Bakery in Troy for some delicious food and to pick up a little treat: a Root Beer Float cake in commemoration of our year! (We also snapped a shot of the “Will Travel For Vegan Food” sign. Yeah!) The food consisted of Bean & Sweet Potato Tortillas w/ Daiya; a Curried Tofu w/ Cabbage Slaw sandwich; and a bowl of Irish Stew. You’ll also notice the picture of Arlo being the un-official “greeter dog” at the Xs to Os entrance; he did a great job. After we got home we cut the cake, but as you can see we forgot to snap a before picture. Oh well.
One tired dog on the way home.