Sunday’s sweaty sorta track workout, inspired by Once a Runner.
After years of trying, forgetting about it for a few months, trying again, and forgetting again for a little while, I finally managed to get my sweaty little hands on a copy of this book and devoured the bulk of it over the weekend while sitting on a picnic table outside.
Once a Runner is basically required reading among those far more serious about running than I’ll ever be. I have an image in my head that the book’s most ardent fans are overly serious high school boys who learn sizable sections of it by rote and refuse the notion that their running endeavors will ever eventually be undermined by other life demands, but perhaps this is because most of my early running years were spent exchanging pithy witticisms with this exact demographic on the original beloved Dyestat forums (R.I.P).
I thought it got a little wordy and arrogant at times, but wordy can be fun. And it was. There are frequent digs at any breed of runner who isn’t an elite long distance track star, and at a few points in the book I found myself emotionally leaping to the defense of the “joggers” they sneer at:
“At paces which might stun and dismay the religious jogger, the runners easily kept up all manner of chatter and horseplay. When they occasionally blew by a huffing fatty or an aging road runner they automatically toned down the banter…”
I GET IT, FICTIONAL FAST DUDES. YOU’RE WAY OUT OF MY SPEED LEAGUE.
Even though I felt a bit unworthy of the book, this didn’t stop me from finishing it in one afternoon. All the characters seem to be eloquent, witty, and fast – heck, it’s my fantasy life! Even the rest of us average trotters can appreciate the racing imagery.
In fact, reading it inspired me to bounce on over to the track Sunday in search of a tiny dash of speed for the first time in about two years.
I tend to avoid track workouts the way roaches avoid light. As in, I see a track, get spooked, and scuttle off instead to the safety and subjectivity of a road or trail route for my speed sessions. The track is a little too truthful and I’m too much of an emotional pansy to go in search of the truth on a regular enough basis that I start to approach any numerical limits.
I hadn’t planned specifically on doing track stuff, but it was close by, and I was getting a little bored with my long run, so I thought back to Quenton Cassidy doing 60 quarter repeats and decided I could survive a lap or two. The truth is, I’m thinking that I should run a 5K road race one of these days. I’ve been afraid of the 5K for a while. It’s just so short, and I take way too long to “get into” races, mentally. At past 5K’s I find that I start hitting my stride with a mile to go, and then I run out of real estate before picking off as many people as I’d like.
I decided to do a few laps at what might perhaps be somewhere in the range of a potential 5K pace, eventually. Ran about seven miles on nearby trails, then did a 6:15 1600 on the track followed by a pair of 3:04 800’s and then eight ridiculously slow 200’s. Ended with five more trail miles at an easy pace for a total of 15 miles.
So thank you, John L. Parker Jr.
Even though my single 1600 was about 30 seconds slower than the easy long run pace of your affable main character, it was enjoyable to feign objective speed for a few laps.