Monday, May 11, 2009

For the past month and a half I have had the immense privilege to be training with Tim VanOrden. And, I can tell you that I have gotten stronger and faster within that short amount of time. But, more importantly, I ran the smartest race I have ever run a few weeks ago at the Race-For-Research 5k in Springfield, Ma., due to his great coaching.
As some of you know, I have been running again since this past August, after not having run in twenty three years! At the beginning, my goal was to be competitive again in some local races, and to just stay fit. But, as I have gone on with this journey my goals have changed to: Let's see what's possible. Is Tim right? Will I gain an advantage by being a raw food vegan, and can I get back into the shape I was in when I was eighteen?
So far the answer is pointing to, yes. It's all possible! I still have a long way to go, but I have no doubt that I will get there.
At the Race-For-Research in Forest Park, on the 26Th of April, it was an unusually hot day. By 9:00 is was 80 degrees. That was a bit concerning, due to the fact that my training had not acclimated me to that kind of heat yet.
Running in this race to support our friend who is fighting a very aggressive rare form of cancer: Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma, was my wife Ginger, our friend Chrissie, Tim and me. My goal in this race was to set a much faster personal record for a 5k than I had run before. To help me do this, Tim (who had won a race the day before) graciously agreed to pace me during the race.
I have to tell you that I have never really run with a strategy before. Especially as an eighteen year old, it was: Gun goes off, run as fast as I can, for as long as I can. That's it. And, on this hot spring day, that would have been a very poor strategy. But, old strategies die hard.
The first mile was flat with a little downward slope, so we got into a comfortable cruise, nice and easy. At the first mile marker I was way behind four guys in their late teens and early twenties. The old strategy in my head wanted to kick in and go after them as hard as I could. But, Tim said, "Back off. There are hills coming. We'll catch them". I didn't believe him. I was even more doubtful when we hit the first hill, and he told me to back off some more. Now I'm convinced I'm toast. But, Tim said, "When we get over the hill, we'll really go."
And that's what we did. By the second mile mark we were gaining on the guys in front of us.
Then another hill. Once again, we slow down, taking small steps, conserving our energy.
Tim knows Forest Park well, as he has raced there many times before. So he knows there is one more hill three quarters of a mile before the finish line.
Just before that hill we pass one of the runners. Going up the hill there are two runners directly in front of us, and we're gaining on them fast! When we get to the top of the hill, it's a quarter mile flat race to the finish.
Now, we have the fresh legs, and we're kicking it into another gear. We blaze past two of the twenty year olds, almost at full sprint. There is only one more runner in front of us, and we're gaining on him. At this point he can hear us, and he knows he's in trouble, but he holds on and gets to the finish line just before we catch him. As soon as he crosses the line, he loses his breakfast. Ouch.
A great race! I got second over-all, and first place in my age group. Obviously, Tim could have won the race at any point, but was a good friend, and let me take second.
And the goal was accomplished, as I broke my best time by thirty seconds!

Since that race, my training has only gotten more intense. So we'll see what happens in the upcoming months.

1 comment:

Liz W. said...

what an amazing inspirational story!! Thanks for sharing.