The Calm Before The Storm

Irish 8k 2015 – 28:32

That wonderful running store that I score pancakes at, and have so far convinced a handful of med school buddies to join me, have a race team. It’s an all-inclusive, all experiences welcome team of runners that encompass many of the same folks that I get the opportunity to run with on Friday mornings. It’s a great excuse to be late for class. When I first got into running with them more frequently (almost 3 years ago!) I became really intrigued in taking this running game to another level. I loved the feeling of competing when I ran my marathon PR just a few months prior and certainly being on a team with a bunch of fast and friendly people was a sure-fire way to keep me motivated to train. Especially through the awful summer months of brutal heat and humidity. And I’ll be honest, running the same distance over and over, especially for my crazy and easily distracted scatter-brain, can get monotonous. Moreover, this would allow me to actually train for speed in a way I hadn’t before in my running life. Hell, I would sometimes even ask myself to sprint during training. Yes, me, at my (slow) maximum velocity. There are a good number of high school friends who can attest to just how awkward a Ryan Duff can appear while trying to use an uncoordinated 6-5’’ wingspan to hit full-speed. It’s amazing I never got hurt. It’s more amazing no one else got hurt. Luckily for me, 5k’s and 8k’s are still not sprinting speeds, and if I have to ask myself to try in training, I can do it in a socially isolated venue, before most people are awake, on an early morning track workout. Preferably near the pole vault mats.

I digress. Suffice to say I was signed up and ready to really try my hand at something new. I signed up just in time for the first race of the year, an 8k in Saint Paul at the turn of the season. I was feeling fit(ish) and this race seemed like it had exactly what I needed going for it. I happened to also be trying to bring down my marathon PR at the Fargo Marathon that May, and to do so I was gonna need to improve my top speed. This race would be a great first foray into just such an endeavor. Out and back. Not too far. It was spring-time so the weather was (should have been) solid. In actuality I’m pretty sure it was sleeting at the start. You get what you bargain for in this state. That’s me in the front of the photo. Still have those shoes BTW.

I managed to, once again, surprise myself with my splits. I was definitely not unhappy with a string of 5:40’s for 5 miles. I don’t think I’d ever run that fast in my life – I did definitely feel physically like dogshit by the end of it, but I was feeling good about the overall finish nonetheless. I was, at the time, determined to run the Fargo Marathon in the spring and try to break the Women’s B standard for the Olympic Trial Qualifier. If you don’t know what that means, it’s the time you need to break in order to get invited to run at the Olympic Trials. Any American that wants to run the marathon in the Olympics has to qualify, so you’re talking the fastest people in the country. The women’s qualifying time is 2 hours 45 minutes, and I thought I had enough in me to shave a few more minutes off my PR to make it happen. However, in the midst of training, I was also ramping up the binge eating and falling deeper in the depths of my eating disorder. I don’t need to explain to you how those are completely incompatible states. I would not wish that fucked up habit on anyone, but this specific blogpost is not meant for what I have covered previously (don’t worry, next week we’re going that deep again). Below is me not in the front, not smiling like Mr. Sunglasses, but just a few steps behind my friend Jack Mullaney, who himself has an amazing story to share.

This race gave credence to the idea that I could do some short distance stuff as well. I wasn’t as single track minded as I thought I was, and despite not having run a competitive short distance race since some turkey trot 5k about 3 and a half years before, I could throw-down halfway decently with some fast folk. Unfortunately, as it turns out, this is the last race I have run since my mental health took a turn for the worst. Fear not! After a hiatus of a few years, my return is on the horizon…

I am returning to this race team. This year. In fact, this week, at ‘Flapjack Friday’ (I don’t even have to be late for class this week as we don’t start ‘til 9am!). My next organized race should be on March 10 with O’Gara’s Irish 8k. I’ll be coming back right where I left off. Same store, same race distance, same great group of people, with a handful of new faces thrown in the mix. I have no idea how fast I’ll be running this, but I’ll train like hell for it. Just like always. I don’t know what kind of physical shape I’ll be in, but I can assure you my mental shape will be better than it has since I can ever remember. It’s gonna be a blast. And I can assure you I’ll give myself the opportunity to run more than just this race for this wonderful group of people. I’m already making plans to get my Minnesota born-and-raised ass up to the great city of Duluth for the first time in my life to run the infamous Grandma’s marathon. I know, I know, it’s embarrassing I’ve never been there. Better late than never, right? I have no plans to be breaking a qualiftying standard, or my PR, or anything else. I do plan on having a great time, on sporting the MCR singlet, and a smile twice the size of our friend above. Well, perhaps depending on the weather. I really, really, really, do hate the heat.