Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year. Crisp fall air, leaves, football games, family time, my birthday and of course, the thanksgiving dinner! And the Thanksgiving run?! Yes, my love/hate/indifference affair with running usually centers around thanksgiving.
I have always been a reluctant runner, in fact my earliest running memories are in freshman year of high school. I went out for the no-cut freshman football team, and among other difficulties in learning blocking and tackling, I just didn’t get running. That sounds weird, but I honestly think that my biggest hurdle was the mechanics of running. First I had to figure out what I wanted my body to do, then I had to effectively communicate it. I was so discouraged that by the time that freshman football season ended on thanksgiving, I quit trying to run before I could figure it out.
I didn’t run again until junior year in college, where I distinctly remember a few breakouts that transformed myself from a “fast shuffler of feet” to actual running. And in doing so I actually felt really good, in fact I was able to get to a point where I ran a few 5k races with times in the 24 minute range (I’ve never touched that again). I gained some confidence, dropped the freshman 15, and even enjoyed running up some of the hills around campus. This all came to an immediate halt during the first semester of grad school, near thanksgiving, when running lost it’s fight against grad school and my radio program to fill the little free time I had.
It was thanksgiving weekend last year when I committed to running a half marathon with my sister. I had slowly folded a tiny bit of running into my routine over the past 2 years and the half marathon was a good next challenge. I like challenges, and I like how they force you to train. The half marathon was incredibly rewarding, I missed my initial goal, but beat the revised goal I set when I realized what it took to run for that long of a time. The half marathon was in the middle of June, and I logged about 200 training miles between Jan 1. and the race. Since then, I think I am somewhere near 25 miles. So of course… what have I done? I signed up for the Pequot Runners Thanksgiving Day 5 miler, which has been a Connecticut tradition since 1977 and attracts over 3000 runners (including many elite level folks).
Post Half-Marathon John
So I need to train – I have 6 days left! I am fortunate to have a good amount of base that seems to have survived the half marathon – and nearly 1000 miles in the saddle this year haven’t hurt either. If I can get two 4 mile runs done this week, I figure I won’t embarass myself too badly. In a perfect world I would be at a 8:30 minute pace, if I had continued to train I would be shooting for a 9:30 pace. I’ll be happy with anything below an 11 minute pace – but we’ll have to wait and see!
Maybe more important than my love/hate/indifference affair with running is my love affair (with limited hate) of cycling. After a few years of setting targets and goals for myself, I will finally meet almost all of them! I wanted to ride 1 century, and I rode 2; I wanted to ride an event with DC Randonneurs, and I coffeeneur-ed instead, I wanted to ride at least 1000 miles (keep in mind I don’t commute by bike) and I am 75 miles from that goal!
So, I’ve decided to turn Black Friday into Goal Friday. I’ve mapped out a 100k route a few towns over from my parents home (where I’ll be visiting for the holiday) and hope to break the 1000 mile barrier on that ride. Forecasts right now are calling for temps in the mid to high 40′s, which will be darn cold! I’ll layer up and hopefully stay warm enough to finish the ride, though I have worked in a few shortcuts and bailout points if for some reason the weather turns or it simply is too cold. I need to stock up on more wool!
Planned Route for Black Friday
With these goals done for 2011, it is time to start planning my 2012 goals!