When I finished up racing, almost two years ago, I promised myself some serious time off to give my body a rest and clear my mind of the competitive fervor that had saturated it for so long. I planned on giving my self at least two years off and next month will have been just that. The time off has been great, but with how consumed my life has been with school last year my complete lack of fitness passed the range of healthy rest and moved on into sedentary discomfort. I definitely noticed that my energy, concentration, and well-being were suffering from lack of exercise. This summer has been a welcome change, and we have been able to get in tons of hiking and running all over the place.
Having built up some decent fitness, and done some speed work with the speedster girls of Prado Racing Team, I decided to give my legs and lungs a little test to see where I was at, and if I could enjoy a fun little local race. San Diego has a great informal cross country series called the Dirt Dog which are all close by, short, and cheap to boot! The Wild Duck 5k is the first one of the season, and my wife's team races the whole series, so I decided to tag along.
I jogged the course in reverse to warm up while cheering for the masters race, and did some strides to get my lungs and heart heated up. I had no idea how my system or my legs would respond to a full-gas effort after so much time off. The line up was amazing with almost 100 high school and junior high school athletes in the back and about 50 open age groupers up front. I set some heart rate restrictions for my self based on my old numbers less 5% to make sure I didn't blow my doors off at the start.
The mass start was great, and lots of young kids went out super fast. The first mile was slightly up hill so I cruised along behind the first few groups just watching my HR and staying under control. The second mile was a slight downhill so once we crested the top I let my legs open up and ran on feeling. I got together with a young high school kid and a super fast PRT girl that were setting a great pace. At 2.5 miles they both dropped me by a number of yards on the last small hill, but that left me with great incentive to push hard the last half mile downhill. I finished in about 17:55 which is about 5:45/mile and my HR average was 182-bpm which is not far off what my old numbers would have dictated.
I am very happy that the race went so well and to be able to go hard without it totally destroying me. Beforehand I was really worried that it was going to feel awful, I wouldn't enjoy it, and I would still have a really long way to go before being able to do fun fast stuff again. There was an awesome chocolate fountain at the expo, and tons of fun give-away items. These races have a great atmosphere, are filled with fun people, and are so accessible. I hope to try to maintain enough activity this next year to hit a few more in the series so that I have a goal to stay motivated to work out during school.
It is great to be back enjoying exercise and hard efforts again. By the time school was out, I was getting out of breath walking up stairs and cramps in my stomach from lack of muscle tone. Sitting in chairs all day, leaning over thousand-paged books, and surviving off of coffee and cookies does not lend itself to thriving physically...or mentally. I am so glad to have had such a wonderful summer and to be feeling healthy again.
|1/2 Mile to Go Charging Grimace PC- Maureen Friend|
We will see if I can keep it up when school really gets going again but for now it is a good goal and hopefully will make this year better than the last.