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October 17, 2011

Watching From The Sidelines

by Anne Paddock

Yesterday, Hartford hosted the ING Marathon/Half Marathon and I watched from the sidelines – on my couch, eyes glued to the televised race.  Three weeks ago, I had to pull out of the race because I was still building my mileage and couldn’t increase the miles too quickly without possibly re-injuring the foot I fractured in late May. Reminding myself to be thankful for being able to run, I focused on watching the race and set my sights on the Palm Beach Half Marathon in December.

The television reporter interviewed the winner of the women’s marathon – a 22-year old first timer who ran the race in 2 hours, 45 minutes– an incredible accomplishment that will allow her to go to the Olympic Trials. When asked how she planned to celebrate, she told the reporter her mom is turning 50 tomorrow so the family will celebrate with a birthday dinner. Hearing that her mother is only 50 took me aback as I’m in the same neighborhood as her mom.

The real success story followed when the reporter singled out one of the racers that just finished the half marathon in 1 hour, 52 minutes.  The runner weighed 380 pounds a year ago and couldn’t walk from his car to his front steps without feeling winded so he went on a diet, lost 190 pounds, and started running – building mileage and speed that culminated in him finishing the race yesterday within a minute of my time last year.

How did he accomplish several far-reaching goals?  Losing half your body weight is one thing, getting fit and running a first half marathon averaging 8-1/2 minute miles is something else but he did both within a year. He must be blessed with youth, a strong cardiovascular system, and determination. And, if I raced yesterday, there’s a good chance he would have kicked my butt because I haven’t run further than 9 miles since May.  And, he weighed 380 pounds a year ago and couldn’t walk a block, let alone run a mile – the guy is a winner.

This morning was one of those beautiful Fall mornings – 50 degrees and sunny – and because it was Sunday, there would be very little traffic on the roads making for a great run. So, I laced up my sneakers, put my heart monitor on and starting running.  I ran 10.4 miles in 1 hour, 27 minutes – averaging 8.20 minute miles. After obsessing over the 190 pound miracle jock yesterday, I was pumped up but made the mistake of running the first part too fast completing 5.6 miles in just under 45 minutes (8 minute miles).
I know my mileage because I’ve driven this town and have the mileage at every major intersection memorized.  If I didn’t drive a station wagon, residents would have thought I was some weirdo casing out the neighborhoods. Now they know me as the crazy runner that yells at drivers that slide through stop signs and don’t yield to runners in a pedestrian walkway.
The second half of my Sunday run was slow going because I ran the first part too fast but quitting and eating humble pie wasn’t an option. I didn’t run a negative split (which means running the second half faster than the first half) but I finished.  The reward:  immersing myself in 8 inches of cold water and 20 pounds of ice, for 15 minutes. But, the real reward was not feeling any pain in my feet or legs afterwards.  I haven’t found peace or acceptance yet but I don’t think any runner ever does.  Determination pushes runners forward and although they can’t beat the clock, they keep trying.

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