Chasing a Seventeen-Year-Old Me (updated 7/31/2013)

“Goals are not only absolutely necessary to motivate us.  They are essential to really keep us alive.”  — — Robert Schuller

‎”You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” ~Jack London
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Call it a mid-life crisis.  Call it dreaming.  Call it whatever you want.  I am chasing the shadow of a 17 year-old me.  I was 17 when I consistently ran 4:45 for 1600 meters.  I was 17 when I ran a half-marathon in 1:20:48.  I was 17 when I got tendinitis.  After a couple of years of doctors, specialists, & physical therapy, nobody could figure out why I had this tendinitis.  I would run once in a while, but my competitive days were done… or so I thought.
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My tendinitis issues started in 1984.  Now fast forward to 2003.  I decided that I was getting out of shape and I started jogging.  This time, my tendinitis did not show up but I had knee issues.  Another specialist and another round of, “There is nothing we can do.”  I was told to stay off hills and run 3 miles or less.  So for a few years I jogged 3 to 7 miles on a feel-like-it basis.
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When my life was turned inside out back in 2009, I really needed stress relief badly, so I turned to fitness.  I joined a gym and started training for a marathon.  Well, I should say that I started running a lot and hoping that would help me finish a marathon.  I can’t really say that I had a plan.  In the 2010 Knoxville Marathon, I totally bonked at mile 17 and walked the rest of the way…mostly in the cold rain…shivering..muscles locked up… but I finished.  5 hours and 35 minutes.  It was hell.  I was hooked!
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I put the weights down and focused on training for the 2011 Knoxville Marathon.  This time, I followed one of Hal Higdon’s plans.  I modified the advanced I plan.  I also learned about electrolytes and Yasso 800s.  I felt fast enough to run 3:40 or so, but alas I had still not learned enough about electrolytes and nutrition.  I had to settle for 3 hours and 55 minutes.  Much better than the first try!
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After this one, I followed Hal’s advice and used the momentum from this marathon to earn some personal records (PRs) in shorter distances.  He was SO right.  I had done very little speed training.  Most of my track work was about pacing more than speed.  Still, my training had made me much faster.  I found myself running a 5k in less than a 7 minute pace for the first time in over a quarter of a century!  A month later, I averaged a 7 minute pace for a 10k!
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“What else can I accomplish?” This was the question That I asked myself.  Moreover, “What do I WANT to accomplish while I am still young enough to get fast?”
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I set my sights on a 6 minute mile.  In the next 5k, I ran the first mile in 5:47.  I obviously couldn’t maintain that speed, but it was my first sub-6 mile in a very long time.  I ended up finishing the 5k in 20:46.  I kept pondering…”How fast can I get?”
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I am now 46 years old and I have qualified for the Boston Marathon twice.  At this point I know that I can run a sub-3-hour marathon somewhere in the next year or so.  It may not be on the next race, but it will happen.  :)
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Qualifying for Boston was just bucket list item #1.  Also on my bucket list:

  • Run 1 mile in 4:30.  (I may or may not make it, but it is worth a shot.)
  • Run a 5k in 16 minutes. (If I can even just get close to the first one, I have a shot at this)
  • Run a half marathon in less than 1 hour and 20 minutes  ( I can probably make it faster, but this specific time would be enough to defeat the 17 year old me)
What I am not doing is setting time limits.  I obviously can’t wait forever, but injuries/mishaps will occur along the way.  I have to give myself that latitude or I will go crazy.  I set goals and display them publicly to push myself, but I want to enjoy the ride.
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UPDATE – As of 7/31/2013, my current PRs are:
Mile  5:23
5K   18:35
Half Marathon  1:27:42
  Marathon  3:13:22
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I am chasing the shadow of a 17 year-old me…
I am finally getting close enough to see him…
and I think I can pass him before this race is over!
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Happy Running!

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